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March 24th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Do you feel you have been told the truth about Libya?

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Libyan rebels prepare for battle against government forces. (PHOTO CREDIT: ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In an interview with the Boston Globe in December 2007, then-Sen. Barack Obama said this on the campaign trail, "The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."

He was talking about Iran at the time, but fast forward three-plus years, and some lawmakers are accusing him of doing just that in Libya now that Obama is president.

In separate remarks that same year, then-Sen. Joe Biden (and now Obama’s vice president) said he'd move to impeach a president that did such a thing. Don't you hate when those words come back to bite you?

There are a lot of unanswered questions swirling around about our involvement in Libya on the part of Congress and the American people:

  • Did the president have the authority to deploy U.S. military to Libya?
  • What is the U.S. mission there?
  • How quickly can and should we hand over control and to whom? (It's something the president, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have talked a lot about.)
  • And maybe most importantly, what is the end game?

The Obama administration insists it has been responsive to the many questions about the Libyan mission, but no one on Capitol Hill seems to be happy with the president or clear on what's going on there.

Here’s my question to you: Do you feel you have been told the truth about Libya?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Libya
March 24th, 2011
04:56 PM ET

Why won't Congress and Pres. get serious about debt crisis?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The federal government has been operating without a budget for six months, instead lurching from one stop-gap spending measure to the next. And the inability or unwillingness of the president and Congress to do the jobs they were elected to do is starting to have an impact.

A new report on CNN Money.com highlights some of the growing money woes:

The U.S. military has delayed a total of 75 projects. And the Army has deferred contracts for new equipment like Chinook helicopters and held off on refurbishment projects of war-torn Humvees.

No big deal. We're only fighting three wars.

There are hiring freezes at the Justice Department, Social Security Administration and Congressional Budget Office. And the Army and the Marine Corps have temporarily stopped hiring civilians.

Eight new Social Security offices will not open.

National Institutes of Health officials are underfunding some grants, due to uncertainty over the budget.

Almost one year ago, President Obama launched the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, a bipartisan deficit commission. The group released its final report in December, but the suggestions have been all but ignored.

This week, ten ex-chairs of the President's Council of Economic Advisers wrote an opinion piece on Politico.com urging Congress and the President to act quickly. They said, "The unsustainable long-run budget outlook is a growing threat to our well-being. Further stalemate and inaction would be irresponsible." Want to bet that's ignored too?

Here’s my question to you: Why won't Congress and the President get serious about America's debt crisis?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.


Filed under: Congress • Economy • Government • President Barack Obama
March 23rd, 2011
05:45 PM ET

Should Senate hold hearings on Muslims' rights in U.S.?

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The House Homeland Security Committee held a hearing entitled "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response" on Capitol Hill on March 10. (PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

A Senate Judiciary subcommittee led by Democratic Dick Durbin of Illinois will hold a hearing next week on Muslim-Americans' civil rights. Aren't they the same as every other Americans' civil rights? And is this what needs our immediate attention at this time? Sometimes the people in Washington can make you want to stick sharp objects in your eyes.

The Durbin circus comes just weeks after the circus led by Rep. Peter King, R-New York. He held congressional hearings on the topic of the radicalization of Muslim Americans. Those hearings sparked protests and demonstrations. Critics called them a witch hunt and said they sent the wrong message to Muslim-Americans.

Durbin is apparently trying to send a different message to Muslim-Americans, as if he doesn't have other, more important things to do. These hearings will be the first held by the new subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights, human rights and the law.

Durbin says he's called for the hearings because there's been an uptick in anti-Muslim sentiment in this country. He says it's important to renew the nation's "commitment to religious diversity and to protect the liberties guaranteed by our Bill of Rights." Right.

However, according to The Washington Times, the latest FBI data show that hate crimes against Muslims account for just 9.3% of religious hate crimes in the United States. More than 70% of religious hate crimes were against Jews.

Meanwhile, we have no federal budget, three wars and we're broke. Lovely.

Here’s my question to you: Should the Senate hold hearings on Muslims’ rights in the United States?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Muslims • Religion • Senate
March 23rd, 2011
05:00 PM ET

France wants committee to run war in Libya. Good idea?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates - who is refreshingly open and honest - said: "We haven't done something like this, kind of on the fly before."

He was talking about the coalition attacks on Moammar Gadhafi's forces in Libya, why the United States was still in control, why tensions are rising among members of the coalition, why there's no plan for any group or nation to take the lead. The allies, you see, aren't getting along so well. In fact, there are reports today that the coalition is falling apart.

France yesterday suggested a committee be formed - outside of NATO - to oversee the military operations. It would be a political steering committee and would include members of the Arab League. See if a committee is running the war, no one has to take responsibility if things go to hell and everyone can take credit if they go well.

The French were early backers of the no-fly zone and were the first nation to launch airstrikes against Libya on Saturday.

The Italians have accused the French of not originally backing a NATO-run operation to be in a better position for oil contracts when a new government is established in Libya.

It's not just the French causing problems…

Russia's defense minister yesterday called for a cease-fire in Libya.

Germany today pulled its naval ships out of NATO operations in the Mediterranean over a disagreement over the Libyan campaign's direction. It's not pretty.

Foreign ministers from Western coalition partners will meet in London Tuesday along with members of the Arab League and the African Union to see what can be done.

Here’s my question to you: France wants a committee to run the war in Libya. Is that a good idea?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: France • Libya
March 22nd, 2011
03:59 PM ET

Should Pres. Obama have consulted with Congress before U.S. military to Libya?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Quite a few members of Congress are not happy with President Obama over his decision to allow U.S. air attacks in Libya. They feel they weren't given any say in the whole matter…which they weren't. And the criticism of the president is coming in from everywhere.

Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas says the no-fly zone is unconstitutional. Liberal Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich from Ohio has brought up the idea of impeachment hearings for President Obama's actions. No surprise there... but it's not just the far right and the far left up in arms. Moderates like Democratic Senator and former Navy Secretary Jim Webb and Republican Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican member of the Foreign Relations Committee. They aren't happy with the president either.

Yesterday the President sent an official letter to Congress asserting his authority to make the decision on Libya based on the Constitution and War Powers Resolution. The letter said he was acting in the "national security and foreign policy interests of the United States."

The president did hold a briefing for congressional party and committee leaders in the White House Situation Room on Friday before any attacks were launched. But many lawmakers say that wasn't enough.

Here’s my question to you: Should President Obama have consulted with Congress before sending the U.S. military against Libya?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

March 22nd, 2011
03:58 PM ET

Does latest Army photo scandal change your view of U.S. military?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The armed forces of the United States are arguably the greatest fighting force ever assembled. More importantly, it traditionally has been used only for the noblest of causes. The most recent example is Libya, where President Obama ordered our military to assist in protecting innocent civilians from being slaughtered by the ruthless dictator Moammar Ghadafi.

But as with any organization, sometimes it only takes the actions of a few to call the reputation of the whole into question.

Over the weekend, the German newspaper, Der Spiegel, published photographs of what appear to be two U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan standing over the bodies of dead Afghan civilians, in what's been described as trophy-like poses.

One of those soldiers, Army Specialist Jeremy Morlock, is being court marshaled for the murder of three Afghan civilians. He will plead guilty tomorrow. In all, 12 soldiers have been charged for offenses related to the murder of Afghan civilians last year.

The Army released a statement yesterday apologizing for the pictures and for the actions of 12 soldiers, saying:

"The photos appear in stark contrast to the discipline, professionalism and respect that have characterized our soldiers' performance during nearly ten years of sustained operations."

The incident is reminiscent of Abu Ghraib during the war in Iraq where U.S. soldiers took pictures of each other torturing Iraqi prisoners.

Whether the lengths and numbers of deployments of our military, which has been stretched to the breaking point, contribute to these kinds of things is a debate for another day.

Here’s my question to you: Does the latest Army photo scandal change your view of the U.S. military?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: U.S. Army • United States Military
March 21st, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Right time for Pres. Obama to go to Latin America?

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(PHOTO CREDIT: VANDERLEI ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

President Obama is in Chile today, the second stop on a three-nation, five-day trip to South and Central America. It's his first time in the region since he took office.

But it comes at a time when our country is suddenly involved in another hostile military action, airstrikes in Libya, the possible meltdown of nuclear reactors in Japan following an earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands and may cripple that country's economy for some time.

And on the home front, a budget crisis and game of Russian roulette over raising the national debt limit that could lead to the shutdown of the federal government. Perfect time to pack up the wife, kids, mother-in law, and whoever else and go to Carnivale in Rio.

The White House says the goal of the President's trip to Latin America is to expand trade and create more jobs here in the United States.

But Republicans like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are challenging that, saying that President Obama has dragged his feet on free trade deals with two Latin American allies - Colombia and Panama.

McConnell says that these trade deals were negotiated and finalized about three years ago and have broad bipartisan support. He says it's the administration that is holding things up.

Here’s my question to you: Is this the right time for President Obama to go to Latin America?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

March 21st, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Your understanding of U.S. role in Libya offensive?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The U.S. military has led the initial allied air attacks against Moammar Gadhafi's forces in Libya, which began this weekend. Something about it reminds me of the way the war in Iraq started eight years ago.

The U.S.S. Barry launches a Tomahawk missile.

The U.S.S. Barry launches a Tomahawk missile.

But President Barack Obama insisted at a news conference this afternoon that the U.S. will soon step aside and that the mission will then be controlled by NATO forces and other allies.

It was the first time the president has answered questions on the topic of Libya since allied airstrikes began Saturday.

Republicans have sharply criticized Obama and his administration for the way they've communicated about the U.S. military mission in Libya.

House Speaker John Boehner says he supports helping the people of Libya, but he also says:

"Before any further military commitments are made, the administration must do a better job of communicating to the American people and to Congress about our mission in Libya and how it will be achieved."

Sen. Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican member of the Foreign Relations Committee, echoed Boehner's concerns, telling CNN's John King he doesn't understand the mission either and believes there are no guidelines set for success.

It's not a partisan issue… so far. A group of liberal House Democrats held a conference call Saturday because they're pretty upset that Congress wasn't formally consulted before the U.S. and allies attacked Gadhafi's forces. They are concerned that involvement in the airstrikes could lead to a third war in the Middle East in which the U.S. is involved. U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, even raised the prospect of impeachment over the president's actions.

Here’s my question to you: What is your understanding of America's role in the Libya offensive?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Libya
March 15th, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Will the internet eventually kill newspapers?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

A rapidly unfolding story like the earthquake in Japan and the devastating tsunami and nuclear concerns that followed shows the strengths of the news media but at the same time exposes its limits.

The Japan earthquake hit about 12:45 a.m. ET last Friday morning. Internet news sites, blogs and cable television broke the story right away and stayed with it. Newspapers on the other hand scrambled to get such a late breaking story to print... and could only report so much before the presses got rolling. "Hot off the presses" wasn't so hot when it hit doorsteps across the country, so readers relied on other outlets to find out the latest.

A new report from the Pew Center's Project of Excellence in Journalism says 41 percent of Americans say they get most of their national and international news from the Internet. That's up 17 percent - more than double - from a year earlier. And that number's likely to grow. The internet not only provides up-to-the-minute news to anyone who's interested, but in the case of Japan, also puts them one-click away from humanitarian aid websites, groups that are helping loved ones find each other, and opinion blogs.

And laptops, smartphones and electronic tablets like the iPad are making the Internet easily accessible almost everywhere.

Here's my question to you: Will the internet eventually kill newspapers?

Tune in to the Situation Room at 6pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.

And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.


Filed under: Internet • Japan earthquake • Journalism • News Media
March 15th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Why is there no looting in Japan?

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A masked boy walks past nearly-empty shelves at a supermarket in the Japanese city of Akita. (PHOTO CREDIT: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

In the wake of Japan's deadly earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant explosions, we have witnessed the almost indescribable chaos that follows a disaster of this magnitude: loss of life, severe injuries, homelessness, lack of water, food and proper medical care, the physical destruction of towns and cities, and a growing fear of radioactive contamination from power plants that seem beyond anyone's ability to control.

But one heart-wrenching byproduct of disasters like this one has been missing in Japan, and that’s looting and lawlessness.

Looting is something we see after almost every tragedy; for example: last year's earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, the floods in England in 2007, and of course Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. It happens when some people who've seen life as they know it get tossed out the window feel that all morality has been tossed out too. It's survival of the fittest and whatever you can get your hands on is yours, no matter who it belongs to.

But that's not happening in Japan.

Journalist and social commentator Ed West wrote in the UK Telegraph yesterday how struck he was by the Japanese culture throughout this ordeal. He observed how supermarkets cut their prices in the days following the quake and how vending machine owners were giving out free drinks as "people work together to survive." And West was most surprised by the fact that there was no looting.

Many have pointed to the popularity of Japan's distinctive Buddhist and Shinto religions as well as how the values of conformity and consensus are considered virtues in their culture. That's one explanation, but it probably has something to do with remaining true to your moral code even in the darkest hours.

Here’s my question to you: Why is there no looting in Japan?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST


Filed under: Japan earthquake
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