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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Daily Political Wire

George Wenschhof

March on Washington, 50 Years Later - “The arc of the moral universe may bend toward justice, but it doesn’t bend on its own,” President Obama told the audience. “To secure the gains this country has made requires constant vigilance, not complacency.”  Watch the President's speech here.
Obama, 2 years old at the time of King’s speech in 1963, said the work would involve “challenging those who erect new barriers to the vote, or ensuring that the scales of justice work equally for all, and the criminal justice system is not simply a pipeline from underfunded schools to overcrowded jails.”  The Washington Post has more here.

Questions Remain on Chemical Attack in Syria - The intelligence linking Syrian President Bashar Assad or his inner circle to an alleged chemical weapons attack that killed at least 100 people is no “slam dunk,” with questions remaining about who actually controls some of Syria’s chemical weapons stores and doubts about whether Assad himself ordered the strike, U.S. intelligence officials say.

A report by the Office of the Director for National Intelligence outlining that evidence against Syria is thick with caveats. It builds a case that Assad’s forces are most likely responsible while outlining gaps in the U.S. intelligence picture. Relevant congressional committees were to be briefed on that evidence by teleconference call on Thursday, U.S. officials and congressional aides said.

The complicated intelligence picture raises questions about the White House’s full-steam-ahead approach to the Aug. 21 attack on a rebel-held Damascus suburb, with worries that the attack could be tied to al-Qaida-backed rebels later. Administration officials said Wednesday that neither the U.N. Security Council, which is deciding whether to weigh in, or allies’ concerns would affect their plans. has more here.


Obama: No Decision on Military Action Against Syria - President Barack Obama said he had not yet made his decision regarding a U.S. strike on Syria during an interview with PBS NewsHour senior correspondents Judy Woodruff and Gwen Ifill. The president said that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's regime alleged use of chemical weapons would factor into his calculation and he warned that the Assad should be held accountable.

White House to Brief Congress on Syria - With the United States apparently on the verge of launching military strikes in Syria, senior administration officials will brief members of the congressional leadership, as well as the chairmen and top-ranking minority-party on national security committees, on the situation Thursday.
Many members of Congress, even some who are inclined to support military action, have expressed a belief that the White House should consult with lawmakers — or even seek authorization — before using military force. Still others are miffed that only a handful of lawmakers are given information about possible acts of war by the United States. has more here.

Pakistan Overturns Sentence of Doctor Who Helped C.I.A. Find Bin Laden - A Pakistani judicial official on Thursday overturned the 33-year jail sentence passed on Shakil Afridi, the doctor who helped CIA agents hunting for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden who was killed in 2011.

U.S. officials have hailed Afridi as a hero for helping pinpoint bin Laden's location before the secret May 2011 raid by U.S. special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, after more than a decade of searching.

Judicial official Sahibzada Mohammad Anees ordered a new trial on the grounds that another official had exceeded his authority when handing down last year's sentence. Afridi remains in custody.

"The assistant political agent ... did not have the authority to award 33 years' imprisonment to Dr. Shakil Afridi," said the written judgment. "The assistant political agent played the role of a magistrate for which he was not authorized." has more here.


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