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• Solo stand on Syria
• Snowden keeps dishing
• Unions unhinged on ObamaCare
• Obama PAC to shill for Hill
• Ornamental irony
GOING SOLO ON SYRIA - Undecided and isolated - Fox News: The administration’s attempt to build a coalition for military action against Syria in disarray, President Obama remains undecided on ordering a strike. In a major setback, British lawmakers on Thursday voted against military intervention for now, as Obama came under increased pressure from lawmakers for congressional authorization before ordering an attack. With U.N. inspectors due to leave Syria on Saturday, and allies intent on waiting for the results of chemical weapons tests, the Obama administration finds itself isolated as it contemplates limited strikes against the Assad military.
Headlines tell the story - WSJ: “U.S. Prepares for Solo Strike Against Syria” //NYT: “Obama Set for Limited Strike on Syria as British Vote No” //WaPo: “White House: Obama can go it alone on Syria.”
Prepared to move - The WSJ reports the administration is laying the groundwork for unilateral attacks. Senior administration officials stated the scope of the attacks would not require a broad coalition to be effective. Pentagon officials told the NYT: “the Navy had now moved a fifth destroyer into the eastern Mediterranean Sea.” WaPo reports top military brass are questioning the wisdom of such a strike and the unintended consequences it may bring.
“I can't at the moment tell what's going to make us look weaker, doing nothing, having drawn a red line, or going in and doing a shot across the bow and a pinprick.”—Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren”
Baier Tracks: ‘Red line’ disruption … Thinking Coalition of the Unwilling? For all of the grief Democrats gave President George W. Bush for the allies he brought with him to the start of the Iraq War - the “Coalition of the Willing” it appears President Obama is having a harder time building HIS Coalition. After the British Parliament vote AGAINST action - and Germany's reticence - China and Russia's pushback - it's been a tough sales job. This headline of an announcement about the subway system in D.C. - the Metro - caught my eye this morning. It could perhaps also describe the president's definitive statement about Syria that many believe boxed him in a corner:
“RED LINE DISRUPTION: Metro is advising Red Line riders of a major service disruption that will impact service Friday, August 30.”
As President Obama tries to get allies onboard -- that's not the only Red Line Disruption in D.C. today.—Bret Baier
MAKING THE CASE -To the Public - Sources tell Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry a declassified intelligence report on chemical weapon use in Syria, originally scheduled for release Thursday, will be released sometime today.
To Congress - Top administration officials briefed members of key congressional committees Thursday evening. Aside from informing lawmakers on military response options to Syria’s alleged attack, the White House said it was “seeking their input.” President Obama wasn’t on the conference call, though he did personally brief House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier in the day.
Where’s the commander in chief? - House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon R-Calif., expressed his frustration with the president for not being a part of lawmakers briefing. McKeon added, “One thing that has bothered me is the president drawing a red line without knowing what he would do if they crossed red line.”
DIVISION ON AUTHORIZATION -Opinions split and cross party lines on whether or not President Obama should seek the authorization of Congress before taking military action against Syria. Senate Intel Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., told Time that she does not feel Obama needs to seek Congress’ approval because of the potential limited scope of the strikes. Marine combat veteran and New York Republican Rep. Michael Grimm agrees. Rep. BarbaraLee D-Calif., has insisted there must be congressional debate in a letter to the White House. Republican Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz agree, with Cruz demanding Obama call a special session of Congress to “persuade the American people that what he proposes is critical to the defense of our nation.”
[Watch Fox: Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., discusses Congress’ role in authorizing strikes on Syria in the 9 a.m. ET hour]
Related: National Journal covers the fresh faces in Congress that are calling for a vote on Syria strikes.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY WITH CHRIS WALLACE PREVIEW - As members of Congress weigh-in on the prospect of military action, Chris Wallace will discuss Syria policy with Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Sen. James Inhofe R-Okla. Rep.Pete King R-N.Y., will also offer his thoughts on new intelligence leaks from NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
SNOWDEN: THE GIFT THAT KEEP ON GIVING- NSA paying to snoop - Details from a $56.2 billion “black budget” leaked by Edward Snowden and obtained by WaPo show “[t]he National Security Agency is paying hundreds of millions of dollars a year to U.S. companies for clandestine access to their communications networks, filtering vast traffic flows for foreign targets in a process that also sweeps in large volumes of American telephone calls, e-mails and instant messages.” More “black budget” details here.
Israel targeted for counter intelligence - The Hill: “A secret budget request obtained by The Washington Post from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden lumps Israel alongside U.S. foes Iran and Cuba as ‘key targets’ for U.S. counterintelligence efforts. The document suggests Israel does not believe U.S. assurances that its interests are aligned with Israel's on crucial issues such as Iran and peace talks with the Palestinians.”
Secret documents reveal Bin Laden DNA test- AP:“Secret budget documents show that a U.S. military laboratory in Afghanistan analyzed DNA from Osama bin Laden's corpse and confirmed his identify shortly after he was killed by a Navy SEAL team. The Pentagon denied more than a year ago it had any records of these tests in a response to a Freedom of Information Act request…”
Related: Fox News - The nation's top intelligence official, James Clapper, said Thursday that he'll now release figures every year on how many new top secret court orders and national security letters are issued and how many people are targeted because of them.
UNION BOSS: OBAMACARE NEEDS A CHANGE - Fox News: ObamaCare still needs changes since it contains “inadvertent holes,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told reporters Thursday. The leaders of three large unions sent a scathing letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. “Time is running out,” they warned. “Congress wrote this law. We voted for you. We have a problem -- you need to fix it.” - Chief National Correspondent Jim Angle reports.
OBAMA’S EXECUTIVE GUN GRAB - Washington Examiner: “President Obama on Thursday used his executive power to announce two minor steps aimed at limiting sales of powerful guns: He stopped the import of military surplus weapons and proposed to close a little-known loophole that allows felons and others to go around background checks by registering guns to corporations.”
“Requiring background checks for corporations and trusts does not keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. Prohibiting the re-importation of firearms into the U.S. that were manufactured 50 or more years ago does not keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. This administration should get serious about prosecuting violent criminals who misuse guns and stop focusing its efforts on law-abiding gun owners.”—NRA’s Andrew Arulanandam in a statement
WITH YOUR SECOND CUP OF COFFEE...Stephen Lurie in his Atlantic Piece “How the Senate Exploits Unpaid Interns” considers how heavily congressional offices are dependent on unpaid interns: “The facts: only 35 senators compensate their interns. In most offices, summer interns are expected to gratefully work full-time in exchange for whatever exposure to national politics, and politicians, they might earn.”
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POLL CHECK- Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval: Approve – 44.2 percent//Disapprove – 50.0 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 29.2 percent//Wrong Track – 62.6 percent
OFF TO THE RACES - Pro-Obama super PAC shill for Hill - WaPo: “Priorities USA Action, [a] pro-Obama super PAC … is quietly positioning itself to become the main independent group funding a media campaign for Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, according to Democrats familiar with the plans.”
McAuliffe climate change conundrum- The National Journal reports on the careful ground Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe has to tread when it comes to the presidents’ new environmental regulations that are unpopular with coal producers in Southwest Virginia. This as the Democrat continues to call Republican Ken Cuccinelli a climate change denier.
Lambasting Lamar - The Tennessee Campaign for Liberty has launched www.PunishLamar.com. The centerpiece of the project: “a unique, descriptive, and humorous, video” highlighting what the group considers Sen. Lamar Alexander's, R-Tenn., objectionable votes.
OH SNAP: AZ UNCOVERS MASSIVE FOOD STAMP FRAUD - Daily Caller - Four Arizona convenience store owners have been arrested in the state’s most massive case of abuse of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. K&S convenience store employees were arrested Wednesday for “stealing taxpayer money by allowing a person with a [SNAP] food stamp card to purchase something small, such as a bag of chips, and then overcharge that card to make a fraudulent profit.” The scheme apparently netted over a half million dollars.
BOSTON EVEN STRONGER- NYPOST: “The Boston Marathon will accept an extra 9,000 runners for next year's race, making room for the more than 5,000 people stopped on the course this year when two bombs went off and for many of those wanting to run as a tribute to the victims. Registration for the 118th edition of the world's oldest and most prestigious annual marathon will open Sept. 9.”
JUST IN TIME FOR STRIKES ON SYRIA, A CHRISTMAS GREETING - Washington Times: “White House 2013 Christmas ornament is going on sale with the slogan, ‘Peace on Earth’ … This year’s ornament honors Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president, who pushed for a precursor to the United Nations.”
AND NOW A WORD FROM CHARLES…“If you are going to do this, Mr. President, do it constitutionally. And seriously. This is not about you and your conscience. It's about applying American power to do precisely what you now deny this is about - helping Assad go, as you told the world he must.” – Charles Krauthammer in today’s WaPo column “Shamed into War.”