Posts Tagged ‘Robert Gibbs

23
Jun
10

President Obama on Afghanistan, General McChrystal & General Petraeus

NEWS
President Obama on Afghanistan, General McChrystal & General Petraeus

Obama relieves McChrystal of command
Gen. David Petraeus named to take over troubled Afghan war

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The White House says the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan made an ‘enormous mistake’ in an unflattering magazine article, and ‘all options are on the table’ with regard to General Stanley McChrystal’s job.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs repeatedly refused on Tuesday to say that McChrystal is safe in his post or could be considered by President Barack Obama to continue as an effective commander in Afghanistan.

The president summoned McChrystal to Washington to attend, in person, on Wednesday a meeting on the war and explain the comments in the story.
“We’ll have more to say after that meeting,” Gibbs said of McChrystal’s future.

In one part of the story, McChrystal complained about Obama’s preparedness in one of their first meetings. Gibbs responded tartly to that: “He’ll have his undivided attention tomorrow.”

This afternoon the President spoke on new leadership for the mission in Afghanistan, full remarks below:

Good afternoon. Today I accepted General Stanley McChrystal’s resignation as commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. I did so with considerable regret, but also with certainty that it is the right thing for our mission in Afghanistan, for our military, and for our country.

I’m also pleased to nominate General David Petraeus to take command in Afghanistan, which will allow us to maintain the momentum and leadership that we need to succeed.

I don’t make this decision based on any difference in policy with General McChrystal, as we are in full agreement about our strategy. Nor do I make this decision out of any sense of personal insult. Stan McChrystal has always shown great courtesy and carried out my orders faithfully. I’ve got great admiration for him and for his long record of service in uniform.

Over the last nine years, with America fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he has earned a reputation as one of our nation’s finest soldiers. That reputation is founded upon his extraordinary dedication, his deep intelligence, and his love of country. I relied on his service, particularly in helping to design and lead our new strategy in Afghanistan. So all Americans should be grateful for General McChrystal’s remarkable career in uniform.

But war is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general, or a president. And as difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I believe that it is the right decision for our national security.

The conduct represented in the recently published article does not meet the standard that should be set by a commanding general. It undermines the civilian control of the military that is at the core of our democratic system. And it erodes the trust that’s necessary for our team to work together to achieve our objectives in Afghanistan.

My multiple responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief led me to this decision. First, I have a responsibility to the extraordinary men and women who are fighting this war, and to the democratic institutions that I’ve been elected to lead. I’ve got no greater honor than serving as Commander-in-Chief of our men and women in uniform, and it is my duty to ensure that no diversion complicates the vital mission that they are carrying out.

That includes adherence to a strict code of conduct. The strength and greatness of our military is rooted in the fact that this code applies equally to newly enlisted privates and to the general officer who commands them. That allows us to come together as one. That is part of the reason why America has the finest fighting force in the history of the world.

It is also true that our democracy depends upon institutions that are stronger than individuals. That includes strict adherence to the military chain of command, and respect for civilian control over that chain of command. And that’s why, as Commander-in-Chief, I believe this decision is necessary to hold ourselves accountable to standards that are at the core of our democracy.

Second, I have a responsibility to do what is – whatever is necessary to succeed in Afghanistan, and in our broader effort to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda. I believe that this mission demands unity of effort across our alliance and across my national security team. And I don’t think that we can sustain that unity of effort and achieve our objectives in Afghanistan without making this change. That, too, has guided my decision.I’ve just told my national security team that now is the time for all of us to come together. Doing so is not an option, but an obligation. I welcome debate among my team, but I won’t tolerate division. All of us have personal interests; all of us have opinions. Our politics often fuels conflict, but we have to renew our sense of common purpose and meet our responsibilities to one another, and to our troops who are in harm’s way, and to our country.

We need to remember what this is all about. Our nation is at war. We face a very tough fight in Afghanistan. But Americans don’t flinch in the face of difficult truths or difficult tasks. We persist and we persevere. We will not tolerate a safe haven for terrorists who want to destroy Afghan security from within, and launch attacks against innocent men, women, and children in our country and around the world.

So make no mistake: We have a clear goal. We are going to break the Taliban’s momentum. We are going to build Afghan capacity. We are going to relentlessly apply pressure on al Qaeda and its leadership, strengthening the ability of both Afghanistan and Pakistan to do the same.

That’s the strategy that we agreed to last fall; that is the policy that we are carrying out, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In that effort, we are honored to be joined by allies and partners who have stood by us and paid the ultimate price through the loss of their young people at war. They are with us because the interests and values that we share, and because this mission is fundamental to the ability of free people to live in peace and security in the 21st century.

General Petraeus and I were able to spend some time this morning discussing the way forward. I’m extraordinarily grateful that he has agreed to serve in this new capacity. It should be clear to everybody, he does so at great personal sacrifice to himself and to his family. And he is setting an extraordinary example of service and patriotism by assuming this difficult post.

Let me say to the American people, this is a change in personnel but it is not a change in policy. General Petraeus fully participated in our review last fall, and he both supported and helped design the strategy that we have in place. In his current post at Central Command, he has worked closely with our forces in Afghanistan. He has worked closely with Congress. He has worked closely with the Afghan and Pakistan governments and with all our partners in the region. He has my full confidence, and I am urging the Senate to confirm him for this new assignment as swiftly as possible.

Let me conclude by saying that it was a difficult decision to come to the conclusion that I’ve made today. Indeed, it saddens me to lose the service of a soldier who I’ve come to respect and admire. But the reasons that led me to this decision are the same principles that have supported the strength of our military and our nation since the founding.

So, once again, I thank General McChrystal for his enormous contributions to the security of this nation and to the success of our mission in Afghanistan. I look forward to working with General Petraeus and my entire national security team to succeed in our mission. And I reaffirm that America stands as one in our support for the men and women who defend it.

Thank you very much.

• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): The White House
Share

22
May
10

BP oil spill clean-up costs spiral to $33 million a day

NEWS
BP oil spill clean-up costs spiral to $33 million a day

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Earth••• BP is facing increasing financial pressure as clean-up costs following the Gulf of Mexico oil spill spiral to $33 million a day.

Amid rising anger over a huge oil slick hitting U.S. shores, BP officials on Friday denied botching the month-long clean-up and deliberately hiding the true extent of the spill.

As Grand Isle, Louisiana, closed its seven-mile beach to clean up an orange-liquidy slick washing ashore, the British energy giant once again postponed an operation aimed at permanently stopping the leak.

The ‘top-kill’ operation to inject heavy drilling fluids into the ruptured well, a month after the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon rig, and then seal it permanently with cement, will now not take place until Tuesday at the earliest instead of at the weekend.

Just how much oil is gushing daily from the rig’s wreckage has been a contentious issue, with BP initially putting the figure at 5000 barrels.

‘That was not just BP’s estimate. That was the estimate of the in-flight command, including NOAA and the Coast Guard. That’s the best estimate we have,’ BP’s chief operating officer Doug Suttles told ABC television Friday.

But in further confusing comments, BP also radically slashed by more than half its figures for how much of the oil it is siphoning up daily from the ruptured well via a 1 mile insertion tube.
BP spokesman John Curry said it now estimated some 92,400 gallons of oil had been diverted from the well in the 24 hours before midnight on Thursday.

That would mean BP is sucking up only 2,200 barrels daily from the pipe, not the 5,000 barrels it had estimated on Thursday.

Coast Guard commandant Thad Allen later told reporters that the flow was variable, fluctuating from a low rate of 2000 barrels a day to a high of 5,000 barrels.

Live webcam pictures showed more oil continuing to spew into the Gulf from the ruptured well — as visitors flocked to BP’s site to watch the video.

Even at the lowest estimates, more than six million gallons of crude have flowed into the water since the disaster.

And independent experts have warned the flow could be at least 10 times higher than the current estimates.

Suttles sought to quell the growing anger among the US administration, telling ABC television that BP had already spent $700 million on the clean-up.

‘We’ve mounted the largest response ever done in the world. We put 20,000 people at this.
‘I understand the anger. But I can tell you, I don’t know of anything, absolutely anything we could be doing that we’re not doing,’ he said.

But he also revised the timetable for when BP would attempt its latest bid to stop the leak, the ‘top kill’ operation.

‘Our current forecast for when this operation will take place is sometime in the early part of next week. The best estimate is Tuesday,’ Suttles told reporters.

He added the operation was very complex and was being carried out by robotic submarines positioning the equipment on the seabed a mile down.

Meanwhile, the White House also insisted it was doing everything it could.

‘We are facing a disaster the magnitude of which we likely have never seen before… We are doing everything humanly possible and technologically possible to deal with that,’ said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs.

He said, however, that the government was ill equipped to deal with the disaster.

‘The technical expertise to clean up and deal with the equipment that is 5,000 feet below the surface of the sea, that’s equipment that BP has… that other oil companies have. That is not not based on equipment that the federal government has in storage.’
» Related: Weekly Address: BP Spill Independent Commission
» Related: Obama forms commission to probe oil spill
Share

07
May
10

Stocks turn negative for 2010

NEWS
Stocks turn negative for 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

••• U.S. stocks continued to fall in early trading on Friday, with the Dow Jones industrial average and Standard & Poor’s 500 turning negative for the year as traders preferred to stay on the sidelines after Thursday’s unprecedented market plunge.

U.S. stocks saw a 10 percent correction in ten minutes on Thursday, sending investors in great panic. The Dow Jones industrial average experienced its largest-ever point decline in intraday trading, plummeting almost 1,000 points before recovering to close down about 348 points.

Speculation of bad trades emerged in the market as many traders suspected a glitch in the trading of Dow component Procter & Gambles played a role in the heavy selling.

Investors preferred to stay on the sidelines after the unprecedented plunge, even after payrolls data came in better than expected, as uncertainties over European debt problems were still haunting in the market.

According to the Labor Department, non-farm payrolls expanded by 290,000 in April, the most in four years as more confident employers stepped up hiring. The unemployment rate rose from 9.7 percent in March to 9.9 percent, mainly because 805,000 jobseekers resumed their searches for work as the economy showed more signs of recovery.

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 112.75, or 1.07 percent, to 10,407.57. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 13.14, or 1.16 percent, to 1,115.01 and the Nasdaq was down 36.41, or 1. 57 percent, to 2,283.23.
President Barack Obama says U.S. authorities are probing ‘unusual’ stock market activity which triggered a slump in the value of securities, and will act to protect investors.

Obama diverted from a statement at the White House on Friday on a sharp increase in job creation, saying he wanted to ‘speak to the unusual market activity’ that took place on Wall Street on Thursday.

‘The regulatory authorities are evaluating this closely with a concern for protecting investors and preventing this from happening again and they will make findings of their review public along with recommendations for appropriate action,’ he said.
Share

06
May
10

Record 998.5 point drop for Dow Jones before recovery

NEWS
Record 998.5 point drop for Dow Jones before recovery

Thursday, May 6, 2010

••• Panic selling swept U.S. markets on Thursday as the Dow Jones plunged a record of almost 1000 points before recouping more than half those losses.

It was unclear whether the sudden sell-off, the Dow’s biggest ever intra-day drop, was the result of fears over the Greek debt crisis, a mistaken trade or technical error.

The crash began shortly before 2.25 pm EDT, when in a white-knuckle 20 minutes America’s top 30 firms saw their share prices dive 998.5 points, almost nine per cent, wiping out billions in market value.

The drop eclipsed even the crashes seen when markets reopened after September 11, 2001 and in the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse.

The Dow later recovered, closing nearly four per cent down, but spooked traders were left wondering whether a technical glitch had caused the blue-chip index to erode three months of solid gains.

Rumours swirled that a Citigroup trader had mistakenly sold 16 billion rather than 16 million stocks in Procter and Gamble shares, forcing the Dow down.

Shares in the consumer goods giant lost more than seven U.S. dollars, falling in a similar pattern to the Dow, trading at a low of $55 a share.

‘At this point, we have no evidence that Citi was involved in any erroneous transaction,’ said company spokesman Stephen Cohen.

A spokesperson for the New York Stock Exchange said the cause was still not known.

‘We don’t know, right now we’re looking into it,’ said Christian Braakman, ‘it’s all speculation.’

But after three days in which stocks have suffered triple-digit intra-day losses because of concern about Greece’s debt crisis, it was clear that the sell-off was real for some investors.

At the close, the Dow had recovered to 10,520.32, down 347.80 (3.20 percent), while the Nasdaq was down 82.65 points (3.44 percent) at 2,319.64. The Standard Poors 500 Index was down 37.72 points (3.24 percent) to 1,128.15.

Images of rioting as the Greek parliament passed unpopular austerity measures did little to ease market panic.

The parliament approved billions of euros of spending cuts pledged in exchange for a 110 billion euros ($138.55 billion) E.U.-IMF bailout just one day after three bank workers died in a firebomb attack during a huge protest.

On Thursday, police charged to scatter hundreds of youths at the tail-end of a new protest outside parliament that drew more than 10,000 people.

In Lisbon, European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet battled to reassure financial markets that Greece’s debt crisis would not end in default, but could not prevent the euro from falling to a 14-month low against the dollar.

Pleas for patience from the White House also had little impact.

The White House said that reforms in Greece were ‘important’ but would take time and that the U.S. Treasury was monitoring the situation.

‘The president has heard regularly from his economic team,’ said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, adding that President Barack Obama’s top economic officials were closely communicating with their European counterparts.
• Source(s): Associated Press
Share

04
May
10

Barack Obama: America will not be ‘terrorized’

NEWS
Barack Obama: America will not be ‘terrorized’

The President on Times Square: “But as Americans, and as a Nation, We Will Not Be Terrorized”

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

President Barack Obama says the failed Times Square attack is a sobering reminder of current security threats, but vowed America would not be terrorised or cower in fear.

The president said the FBI and law enforcement officers had all the tools they needed to investigate the attack and would probe whether the Pakistani American suspect arrested on Monday had links to foreign extremists.

‘This incident is another sobering reminder of the times in which we live,’ Obama said in a speech to the Business Council in Washington on Tuesday.

‘Around the world and here at home there are those who would attack our citizens and who would slaughter innocent men, women and children in pursuit of their murderous agenda.’

‘They will stop at nothing to kill and disrupt our way of life.’

Obama said hundreds of lives may have been saved by the vigilance of citizens and law enforcement authorities in New York when the car bomb attack was thwarted on Saturday night.

And he promised that Americans would stick together and keep their heads held high after the failed attack.

‘We know that the aim of those who try to carry out those attacks is to force us to live in fear and thereby amplifying the effects of their attacks, even those that fail.’

‘But as Americans, and as a nation, we will not be terrorised.’

‘We will not cower in fear. We will not be intimidated.’

Speaking hours after a suspect was pulled off a plane about to depart for the Middle East, Obama said ‘justice will be done’ in the incident.

The president said ‘hundreds of lives’ may have been saved through quick action by ordinary citizens and local, state and federal authorities.

Earlier, spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters that Obama had been informed a few minutes after midnight about the arrest of a suspect, Faisal Shahzad.

Shahzad, a Pakistan-born U.S. citizen, is suspected of driving a bomb-laden SUV into Times Square last Saturday and parking it on a street lined with restaurants and Broadway theatres.

Shahzad, was taken into custody late Monday by FBI agents and New York Police Department detectives at Kennedy Airport after he boarded a flight to Dubai, according to officials.
• Source(s): The White House
Share

14
Apr
10

White House fights for finance reforms

NEWS
White House fights for finance reforms

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A bipartisan meeting on financial regulatory reform between President Barack Obama and GOP congressional leaders broke up early and acrimoniously Wednesday – as the White House warned Republicans against trying to water down the bill.

“Obama made clear that bipartisanship should not be equated with an openness to lobbyists’ loopholes and special interest carve-outs and that he would be unwilling to negotiate on some key issues,” said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, in an e-mailed readout of the meeting, “And that he could not accept bad policy” in pursuit of a deal with the GOP.

“It appears the bipartisan talks have broken down,” pronounced Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kent.), after meeting for less than an hour with Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

“The strings were kind of pulled by the Democratic leaders,” added McConnell, who said that Democrats “are trying to jam us” for political gain.

“If there’s one lesson that we’ve learned,” said Obama in televised remarks prior to the meeting, “it’s that an unfettered market where people are taking huge risks and expecting taxpayers to bail them out when things go sour is simply not acceptable.”

Pelosi said Obama and the Democrats confronted McConnell and House Minority Leader John Boehner, saying they asked the Republicans, “Do you want to rein in Wall Street?”
Despite McConnell’s claims, Democratic staffers have expressed confidence that regulating Wall Street is such a poisonous issue for the GOP this fall that many in the party will ultimate side with Democrats – with as many as half a dozen defections possible.

Senate Democrats are lining up behind a proposal passed by lame-duck Banking Committee Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) that would create a consumer protection bureau with authority to write rules governing all financial entities, including banks and other institutions, in addition to “authority to examine and enforce regulations for banks and credit unions with assets over $10 billion and all mortgage-related businesses.”

Acrimony aside, Dodd and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the ranking Republican on the committee, are due to meet this afternoon in hopes of hashing out a broader deal. But Dodd earlier Wednesday threatened to end negotiations with Republicans on a financial regulatory reform bill if they continue to lead what he called a misinformation campaign based on Wall Street talking points.

In a blistering floor speech Tuesday, McConnell laid out the GOP’s counterargument – claiming the Democrats’ bill would put taxpayer on the hook for future bailouts.

Emerging from his Tuesday meeting, McConnell hammered home that point, saying, “It’s a bill that actually guarantees future bailouts of Wall Street banks, if you look carefully… hat is clearly not the direction the American people want to go.”

A seething Reid, squinting in the bright sunlight of the West Wing driveway, called McConnell’s claim that Democrats had abandoned talks a “figment of his imagination” and vowed to pass the overhaul quickly.

The White House has accused McConnell of parroting the party’s talking points, driven by polls.

Participants described the meeting as “lively” and “candid” but demurred when reporters pressed him on the number of GOP “yes” votes he hoped to get.

“It’s difficult to work with the party of no,” he said.

The majority leader, facing a tough reelection fight in Nevada this fall, seized on a FOX Business News report that McConnell and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) recently met privately with about 25 hedge Wall Street executives, many of them hedge fund managers, to talk fundraising and regulatory reform.

McConnell dodged questions about the meeting saying only that he had heard criticism of the Dodd bill from “community banks in Kentucky.”

But when a reporter pressed him about his relationship with Wall Street, McConnell said, “Sure, we talk with people all the time, I’m not denying that,” – saying it was “inaccurate to say the GOP was fighting for the big banks.

As the meeting took place, Boehner’s staff released a list of talking points the leader planned to make, including the argument that the Dodd bill “sets up a huge new bureaucracy” and “does nothing to address the root causes of the Fannie & Freddie.”

But a person familiar with the situation that Boehner “actually said none of that” during the brisk, businesslike meeting.

Share

18
Mar
10

Dems sweeten health bill, set showdown Sunday vote

NEWS
Dems sweeten health bill, set showdown Sunday vote

Thursday, March 18 2010

President Barack Obama again postponed his trip to Indonesia and Australia, this time putting it off until June so that he can be in Washington as Democrats in Congress try to pass a health care reform bill, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs announced Thursday.

Obama had already delayed his trip once and was planning to leave Sunday, but the House health care vote now is expected Sunday as well. Gibbs said the president didn’t want to risk having to cancel at the last minute.

“Passage of health care reform is of paramount importance, and the president is determined to see this battle through,” Gibbs said during the daily press briefing. “The president believes right now the place for him is to be in Washington to see this through.”

Postponing a presidential trip overseas is a dramatic step, and the move — decided on by Obama at 9:45 a.m. Thursday, official said — speaks to the importance health reform has taken on for the president. A trip overseas at such a critical moment could have left him somewhat out of the picture at what could prove to be a signature moment of his presidency, if the House can pass reform this weekend as Democratic leaders expect.

Gibbs insisted that the delay in the trip didn’t mean trouble for the House passing reform. “The president still believes we will have the votes,” he said.

But House leaders say they’re still short of the 216 votes needed to pass reform in the House. That effort got a boost Thursday when the Congressional Budget Office said the bill, which will cost $940 billion over 10 years, would reduce the deficit over the next 10 and 20 years. After the House acts, the Senate also must act to pass a cleanup bill, probably sometime next week.

Obama must sign the House-Senate bill into law before the Senate can pass the cleanup bill.

News about the trip postponement came just as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was ending a news conference. As she left the room, she said: “I’m glad. I like having him here.”

She suggested he was staying because the Senate will take up the bill next week.

“This is historical. I’m sure he wants to be here for the history,” Pelosi said.

Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) also is happy the president is staying.

“He may have to twist some arms. He may have to talk to some people. His personal presence helps.”

The Senate will take up the bill soon after House passage, probably Tuesday, aides said.

The overseas trip promises to be an emotional one. Obama was planning to visit Indonesia, where he lived for four years as a child. On Thursday, Obama called the leader of Indonesia and plans to soon call the Australian prime minister, Gibbs said.

“We greatly regret the delay in the trip,” he said.

While pushing back an official overseas trip is a personal first for Obama, it is hardly new to the presidency. President George W. Bush pushed back to July 2003 a major Africa trip the White House had scheduled for January 2003 due to a variety of considerations, according to CBS’s Mark Knoller, who keeps a meticulous tally of presidential statistics.

Bush also postponed a trip to Canada in the spring of 2003, in run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. President Bill Clinton also pushed back international trips. He sent Vice President Al Gore in his place to an APEC Summit in Malaysia.

President Ronald Reagan once cancelled a trip to Indonesia citing the need to remain in Washington to deal with the budget and other issues. President George H.W. Bush postponed a trip to Australia amid criticism of his international travel while Americans suffered in a down economy.

Gibbs said the delay was unavoidable. Unless the president left “extremely early” Sunday afternoon, the trip would not have been feasible and putting it off further seemed the best option when staff reviewed his schedule Wednesday night, Gibbs said..

“It just at that point seemed obvious to us that the best course of business was to reschedule,” he said.

The White House is not concerned about possible diplomatic repercussions.

“Each of these two countries understands what the president has been working on, what he’s involved in and the importance of him seeing it through,” Gibbs said.

Share




Calendar

September 2019
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  

Archives

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2 other followers

© Copyright 2010 Dominic Stoughton. All Rights reserved.

Dominic Stoughton's Blog