Posts Tagged ‘Jay Carney’

Amazon and New York Times battle publicly over story’s accuracy — Amazon’s corporate culture questioned

October 19, 2015

Two months after a damning New York Times story about Amazon’s corporate culture, the retailer has published a blistering response, accusing the paper of misrepresenting the company.

The Times responded with a tough, unwavering defense of its story and its reporter.

The original August 16 piece concluded that Amazon’s many breakthroughs and innovations come from a “bruising workplace.”

It bruised Amazon, and in recent weeks the company has been privately punching back, lobbying The Times to “correct the record.”

“They haven’t, which is why we decided to write about it ourselves,” Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president for global corporate affairs, wrote in a Medium blog post on Monday morning.

Carney was a journalist at Time magazine for two decades and later became President Obama’s chief spokesman. He joined Amazon earlier this year after a brief stint as a CNN political analyst.

Carney said the Times failed to vet some of its sources and he shared internal records about ex-employees to buttress his case.

Related: New York Times staffer scolded for ‘F… you Jeb Bush’ tweet

A few hours later, Times executive editor Dean Baquet responded with a Medium post of his own.

He reiterated his support for the story and said the outpouring of reaction to its reporting “leaves no doubt that this was an accurate portrait.”

Baquet emphasized that more than 100 current and ex-employees contributed to the story, which received the newspaper’s most prominent possible placement — the front page of the Sunday edition.

The revelations spurred a conversation that continues to this day about work-life balance inside Amazon and other big companies.

In Amazon’s initial volley on Monday morning, Carney detailed the employment history of Bo Olson, a former Amazon employee who was quoted in the article as saying “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

The story said Olson “lasted less than two years in a book marketing role and said that his enduring image was watching people weep in the office, a sight other workers described as well.”

This vivid quote contributed to the overall impression of Amazon as a difficult, demanding place to work.

Related: New York Times adds five corrections to Melania Trump story

But according to Carney, Olson’s “brief tenure at Amazon ended after an investigation revealed he had attempted to defraud vendors and conceal it by falsifying business records. When confronted with the evidence, he admitted it and resigned immediately.”

He asked, “Why weren’t readers given that information?” and questioned the editorial process at The Times.

Baquet responded by saying that “if we had known his status was contested, we would have said so.”

But he also said that Olson “disputes Amazon’s account of his departure.” After Carney’s blog post came out, Olson told the Times that he “was never confronted with allegations of personally fraudulent conduct or falsifying records, nor did he admit to that.”

Carney also published an email from the lead reporter of the story, Jodi Kantor, and implied that she misled the company’s executives about her intent.

Related: NYT reporter criticized for tweetng sexual taunt to female critic

“The article she specifically said they were not writing became the article that we all read,” he wrote.

Baquet defended Kantor, saying the newspaper had “reviewed notes from Ms. Kantor’s communications with your team” and found that “the topics discussed relatively early on included Amazon’s reputation as a difficult place to work, social cohesion, complaints of a culture of criticism and other worker concerns that were emerging from the reporting.”

By the looks of Baquet’s response, the newspaper has no plan to publish an editors note or a clarification.

An Amazon spokesman declined to elaborate on the blog post.

The Future of Media, a customized magazine

Obamacare Consultant Jonathan Gruber Frequently Visited the White House

November 18, 2014


Jonathan Gruber

By Justin Sink
The Hill

The ObamaCare consultant drawing fire for mocking the “stupidity of the American voter” visited the White House on nearly two dozen occasions and met with President Obama in the West Wing, according to a review of visitor logs.

MIT professor Jonathan Gruber held a series of high-level meetings with administration officials beginning in 2009 and extending through June of this year.

During the height of 2009’s ObamaCare debate, Gruber met repeatedly with former Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orzag, National Economic Council Director Larry Summers, and Jeanne Lambrew, the deputy director of the White House Office of Health Reform, among other officials. He also participated in a meeting of economists with President Obama.

In subsequent trips, Gruber received tours of the West Wing and residence and had breakfast at the White House mess, an exclusive West Wing cafeteria. He also met with Jason Furman, who now chairs the Council of Economic Advisers, and NancyAnn DeParle, the White House’s point person on ObamaCare’s implementation.

The visitor logs, which are publicly available but were first reported by The Wall Street Journal, show Gruber has visited the White House 21 times during the Obama presidency. Some of the records are incomplete — missing details about when Gruber entered or exited the complex — so it’s possible that some of those visits did not occur.

The visits are also likely to generate new questions for the administration, which has worked hard to distance themselves from Gruber since his comments first surfaced.

At a press conference in Australia over the weekend, Obama dismissed Gruber as “some adviser who never worked on our staff.” Press secretary Josh Earnest said he disagreed “vigorously” with Gruber’s comments.

In a series of academic lectures, Gruber said the ObamaCare bill was a “tortured way to make sure the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] did not score the mandate as taxes,” essentially acknowledging that Democrats spun the penalties associated with the individual mandate as a fine, rather than a tax, for political reasons.

“If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies,” Gruber said. “So it’s written to do that.”

Gruber went on to say the bill might also have lost political momentum if voters realized that in insurance plans, healthier individuals pay more to subsidize the sick, who cost more to insure.

“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” Gruber continued. “And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to get anything to pass.”

Gruber later apologized for the comments in an interview with MSNBC.

“The comments in the video were made at an academic conference,” Gruber said. “I was speaking off the cuff. I basically spoke inappropriately. I regret having made those comments.”

Allies of President Obama have acknowledged that the comments have done some harm.

A new Gallup poll released Monday showed approval of ObamaCare at an all-time low, with just 37 percent of respondents saying they approved of the law and 56 percent saying they disapproved.

“It’s not good,” former White House press secretary Jay Carney told CNN. “It doesn’t help when someone who helped write not only ObamaCare, the president’s Affordable Care Act, but the precursor to it, which was Gov. Romney’s health care reform initiative in Massachusetts, speaks from the ivory tower with remarkable hubris about the American voter and, by extension, the American Congress.”

Colombian Hooker Flap a Microcosm of Administration’s Problems

October 10, 2014


On April 23, 2012, then White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, citing an internal review, said “there’s no indication that any member of the White House advance team engaged in any improper conduct or behavior” in Cartagena, Colombia. (The Washington Post via

By Jonah Goldberg

In news that must have left my friends at the New York Post — never mind the gang at “The Daily Show” — with a renewed confidence that ours is a just and beneficent God, the White House has been caught covering up a scandal involving a Cartagena hooker.

The phrase “Cartagena hooker” alone is a mellifluous gift to ink-stained wretches everywhere, but the revelation that the White House reassigned the alleged client of the aforementioned Andean call girl to the State Department’s office of “Global Women’s Issues” is the sort of flourish Tom Wolfe or Chris Buckley wouldn’t dare attempt as satire.

Let us back up for a moment. Two years ago, the Secret Service was humiliated in a terrible scandal. Agents sent to prepare for a presidential trip to Colombia availed themselves of the local service industry, as it were. The local cops were called in when one agent refused to compensate a woman for services rendered, contradicting ancient advice about the oldest profession: You don’t pay for the sex; you pay for the hooker to leave. Hats off to the Cartagena constabulary for their diligence in enforcing contract rights. Ten agents lost their jobs.

On April 23, 2012, then-White House press secretary Jay Carney said there were “no specific, credible allegations of misconduct by anyone on the White House advance team or the White House staff.”

“Nevertheless,” Carney said, “out of due diligence, the White House Counsel’s office has conducted a review … (and) came to the conclusion that there’s no indication that any member of the White House advance team engaged in any improper conduct or behavior.”

If the Washington Post’s exhaustive exclusive this week is to believed, that was what experts would call a lie. Secret Service investigators told the White House that Jonathan Dach also had too good a time in Cartagena. Dach, then a Yale law student, was a volunteer for the White House advance team. The lead investigator for the Department of Homeland Security –which oversees the Secret Service — says he was told “to withhold and alter certain information in the report of investigation because it was potentially embarrassing to the administration.”

One such piece of information was that Dach “was not charged for additional guest as a benefit of Hilton Honor Member.”

Membership has its privileges.

That guest, investigators found, had advertised herself as a prostitute on the Internet, complete with a photo of herself scantily clad in front of signs that read, “Summit of the Americas.” Perhaps she was just a student of international diplomacy specializing in ameliorating the deficiencies of soft power?

The lead investigator and two of his aides say they were put on administrative leave when they questioned what they believed to be a naked political cover-up.

If the allegations are true, we’re left with this question: Why did the White House go to such lengths to conceal the event? Dach broke no laws in Cartagena, the alleged tryst took place in a so-called “tolerance zone” where prostitution is legal. Surely the White House isn’t against tolerance.

There are two likely answers. The first is obvious and laid out in the Post’s reporting. The White House didn’t want a scandal in an election year. The second answer, also suggested by the report, is that while Dach was an inconsequential gnome in the White House’s massive political operation, Dach’s father, Leslie, was a big donor to the Obama campaign. A former lobbyist for Wal-Mart, Leslie Dach gave $23,900 in 2008 and worked with Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign.

Neither answer excludes the other, and both speak volumes about this White House’s problems. The underlying scandal is fairly minor. But if the White House would falsify records and lie to the public about this, is it really so hard to imagine that it would deceive the public — and Congress — about larger issues like, say, Benghazi? (Just this week, former Obama Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that the infamous White House talking points on the attack were essentially bogus.)

But it also speaks to the seedy way Obama talks about politics generally. The president loves to denounce a cynical system where politics comes before the public good. He rails about a system where fat cats live by a different set of rules than the little guy, and money buys special treatment and access. But the way he operates runs completely counter to all that. Which is why the only person to come out of this scandal in an honorable light is the Cartagena hooker.



The CIA team charged with protecting the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya when it was attacked in 2012 say they were told to 'stand down' for half an hour by a CIA official after the attacks began

Remember those killed at Benghazi

White House Knew About Secret Service and Prostitutes in Colombia; Lied to Media, Public — “We were directed . . . to delay the report of the investigation until after the 2012 election.”

October 9, 2014

Photo credit: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

As nearly two dozen Secret Service agents and members of the military were punished or fired following a 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia, Obama administration officials repeatedly denied that anyone from the White House was involved.

But new details drawn from government documents and interviews show that senior White House aides were given information at the time suggesting that a prostitute was an overnight guest in the hotel room of a presidential advance-team member — yet that information was never thoroughly investigated or publicly acknowledged.

The information that the Secret Service shared with the White House included hotel records and firsthand accounts — the same types of evidence the agency and military relied on to determine who in their ranks was involved.

The Secret Service shared its findings twice in the weeks after the scandal with top White House officials, including then-White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler. Each time, she and other presidential aides conducted an interview with the advance-team member and concluded that he had done nothing wrong.

Meanwhile, the new details also show that a separate set of investigators in the inspector general’s office of the Department of Homeland Security — tasked by a Senate committee with digging more deeply into misconduct on the trip — found additional evidence from records and eyewitnesses who had accompanied the team member in Colombia.

On April 23, 2012, then White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, citing an internal review, said “there’s no indication that any member of the White House advance team engaged in any improper conduct or behavior” in Cartagena, Colombia. (The Washington Post via


The lead investigator later told Senate staffers that he felt pressure from his superiors in the office of Charles K. Edwards, who was then the acting inspector general, to withhold evidence — and that, in the heat of an election year, decisions were being made with political considerations in mind.

“We were directed at the time . . . to delay the report of the investigation until after the 2012 election,” David Nieland, the lead investigator on the Colombia case for the DHS inspector general’s office, told Senate staffers, according to three people with knowledge of his statement.

Read it all:



Report: Obama Has Missed Over Half His Second-Term Daily Intel Briefings

September 30, 2014

President Barack Obama has attended only 42.1% of his daily intelligence briefings


President Obama says the US intelligence agencies underestimated Islamic State activity in Syria and overestimated the Iraqi army's role to fight back against militants 

President Obama says the US intelligence agencies underestimated Islamic State activity in Syria and overestimated the Iraqi army’s role to fight back against militants

By Wynton Hall

Breitbart News

A new Government Accountability Institute (GAI)report reveals that President Barack Obama has attended only 42.1% of his daily intelligence briefings (known officially as the Presidential Daily Brief, or PDB) in the 2,079 days of his presidency through September 29, 2014.

The GAI report also included a breakdown of Obama’s PDB attendance record between terms; he attended 42.4% of his PDBs in his first term and 41.3% in his second.

The GAI’s alarming findings come on the heels of Obama’s 60 Minutes comments on Sunday, wherein the president laid the blame for the Islamic State’s (ISIS) rapid rise squarely at the feet of his Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

“I think our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” said Obama.

According to Daily Beast reporter Eli Lake, members of the Defense establishment were “flabbergasted” by Obama’s attempt to shift blame.

“Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting,” a former senior Pentagon official “who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq” told the Daily Beast.

On Monday, others in the intelligence community similarly blasted Obama and said he’s shown longstanding disinterest in receiving live, in-person PDBs that allow the Commander-in-Chief the chance for critical followup, feedback, questions, and the challenging of flawed intelligence assumptions.

“It’s pretty well-known that the president hasn’t taken in-person intelligence briefings with any regularity since the early days of 2009,” an Obama national security staffer told the Daily Mail on Monday. “He gets them in writing.”

The Obama security staffer said the president’s PDBs have contained detailed threat warnings about the Islamic State dating back to before the 2012 presidential election.

“Unless someone very senior has been shredding the president’s daily briefings and telling him that the dog ate them, highly accurate predictions about ISIL have been showing up in the Oval Office since before the 2012 election,” the Obama security staffer told the Daily Mail.

This is not the first time questions have been raised about Obama’s lack of engagement and interest in receiving in-person daily intelligence briefings. On September 10, 2012, the GAI released a similar report showing that Obama had attended less than half (43.8%) of his daily intelligence briefings up to that point. When Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen mentioned the GAI’s findings in his column, then-White House Press Secretary Jay Carney dubbed the findings “hilarious.” The very next day, U.S. Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens and three American staff members were murdered in Benghazi. As Breitbart News reported at the time, the White House’s very own presidential calendar revealed Obama had not received his daily intel briefing in the five consecutive days leading up to the Benghazi attacks.

Ultimately, as ABC News reported, the White House did not directly dispute the GAI’s numbers but instead said Obama prefers to read his PDB on his iPad instead of receiving the all-important live, in-person briefings.

Now, with ISIS controlling over 35,000 square miles of territory in its widening caliphate in Iraq and Syria, and with Obama pointing fingers at his own Director of National Intelligence James Clapper for the rise of ISIS, the question remains whether a 42% attendance record on daily intelligence briefings is good enough for most Americans.



From The New York Times

“Some of us were pushing the reporting, but the White House just didn’t pay attention to it,” said a senior American intelligence official. “They were preoccupied with other crises,” the official added. “This just wasn’t a big priority.”

Read it all:

Iraq’s Army in Meltdown — Shiites Issue Call to Arms — Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Fighters Strike Fear Into Iraqis

June 13, 2014


Iraqi army armored vehicle is seen burned on a street of the northern city of Mosul, Iraq, Thursday, June 12, 2014. The al-Qaida-inspired group that captured two key Sunni-dominated cities in Iraq this week vowed on Thursday to march on to Baghdad, raising fears about the Shiite-led government’s ability to slow the assault following the insurgents’ lightning gains. Fighters from ISIL on Wednesday took Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit, as soldiers and security forces abandoned their posts and yielded ground once controlled by U.S. forces. (AP Photo)

Jun 13, 2014


June 13 (Bloomberg) — Islamist fighters extended their advance in Iraq, entering two northeastern towns as government forces failed to halt an offensive that triggered concern over a civil war and prompted the U.S. not to rule out airstrikes.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s security forces left Jalulah and Saaiydiyah after militants called on them to give up their weapons and leave their posts, Al Jazeera reported, citing residents in the towns. The Interior Ministry started to prepare a new plan to defend Baghdad against an attack by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, Al Arabiya reported, citing a ministry spokesman.

In a sign that the Sunni militants are pushing the country toward another round of sectarian conflict, a representative of Iraq’s top Shiite religious leader called on citizens to carry arms and fight terrorism, according to Al-Mada Press. He said in the town of Karbala that those killed in a “holy” war would be considered martyrs, Al-Mada reported.

Iraqi political leaders should “seek an urgent, sustainable and effective” resolution to the crisis and not encourage sectarianism, said Navi Pillay, United Nations high commissioner for human rights. “They should build an inclusive government and work toward national reconciliation, including equal treatment and representation for all communities.”

‘Permanent Foothold’

Maliki’s army is seeking to dislodge ISIL fighters from cities north of Baghdad after they overran army positions in Mosul this week with little resistance and advanced toward the Iraqi capital. The group is besieging a military base in Tikrit, the hometown of former President Saddam Hussein, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Al Arabiya reported.

Three years after the U.S. withdrew forces from Iraq, the army of the Shiite-led government has collapsed in many areas when confronted by the radical Sunni forces, threatening the stability of oil production in the north of the country. President Barack Obama said he won’t rule out using airstrikes to help Iraq’s government beat back the advance.

“I don’t rule out anything because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq, or Syria, for that matter,” Obama said yesterday after meeting Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The U.K., which took part in the U.S.-led invasion to topple Saddam, today said its military wouldn’t play a role.

Iranian Response

Iran will provide support to al-Maliki’s government to combat an “extremist, terrorist group that is acting savagely,” President Hassan Rouhani said on state television yesterday. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that two battalions of elite Quds Forces from Iran are backing up Iraqi forces. Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney, said he couldn’t confirm the Wall Street Journal report. He also said the U.S. is “not contemplating ground troops.”

The gains made by ISIL, which was split from an al-Qaeda affiliate last year, poses the biggest threat to Maliki’s government since the U.S. withdrawal. Yesterday, the premier was unable to get parliament to decide on a state of emergency, reflecting the weakening position of his government.

The violence is rattling oil future markets. West Texas Intermediate crude headed for the biggest weekly advance since December and Brent gained as escalating violence in Iraq threatened supplies. Futures pared gains after earlier rising 1.1 percent in New York. They rallied 2 percent yesterday, the most in two months.

Oil Fields

In a further blow to the central government, Kurdish forces have moved into Kirkuk to protect oil fields and the city, Rakan Saeed, deputy governor of Kirkuk, said by phone yesterday. Part of the pipeline that exports crude oil to the Turkish port of Ceyhan from Kirkuk has fallen under the control of ISIL, as has the link to the 310,000 barrel a day Baiji refinery, he said.

When ISIL seized Mosul this week, it forced a halt to repairs to the pipeline from Kirkuk to Ceyhan. There were conflicting reports that Baiji, the site of Iraq’s biggest refinery, was captured. Iraq, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, produced 3.3 million barrels a day last month, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told the Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that the situation in Iraq is “not out of control” and the government has taken measures to stop the advances of the gunmen. He said government forces have expelled ISIL from Baiji and has begun a counter-offensive against it in Mosul and Kirkuk.

Serious Situation

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Maliki needs to show himself as a statesman and reconcile Sunnis and Shiites in the country. “He needs to govern differently,” Clinton said on France Inter radio. “The situation is very serious.”

The U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the subsequent rise to power of the Shiite-Muslim majority alienated their Sunni counterparts, who governed the country during Saddam’s era. Maliki, who came to power in 2006, alienated Sunnis from the country’s political process.

Sunnis are a majority in Anbar Province to the west and in areas to the north of Baghdad. Shiites account for the majority in the south, where 60 percent of the country’s oil wealth resides, and have close religious and political ties to Iran.

ISIL issued a document in which it declares plans to impose Islamic law in Mosul, several Iraqi news outlets, including al- Mada Press, reported today. The document said drugs, alcohol and cigarettes will be banned and women should dress conservatively and leave their homes only when necessary. It was not possible to verify the authenticity of the document.

UN High Commissioner Pillay said ISIL fighters, including prisoners they had released from jails in Mosul and provided with arms, have been actively seeking out, and in some cases killing, soldiers, police and civilians who they perceived as being associated with the government.

“There will be particular scrutiny of the conduct of ISIL, given their well-documented record of committing grave international crimes in Syria,” Pillay said in a statement.

–With assistance from Nicole Gaouette, Tony Capaccio, Kathleen Hunter, David Lerman and Margaret Talev in Washington, Mike Anderson in Singapore and Mark Deen in Paris.



By Faith Karimi and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 11:45 AM EDT, Fri June 13, 2014

(CNN) — Emboldened Sunni militants, backed by local tribal leaders, pushed toward Baghdad on Friday as Iran sent troops to fight alongside government forces. In Washington, increasingly nervous U.S. officials mulled their limited options to help slow the militants’ advance.

Includes video:

In recent days, Iran has sent about 500 Revolutionary Guard troops to fight alongside Iraqi government security forces in Diyala province, a senior security official in Baghdad told CNN.

Meanwhile, Sunni tribal leaders have lined up behind radical Islamists from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, making their push toward Baghdad easier, a Saudi intelligence official told CNN’s Nic Robertson.

As Iraq further disintegrated, residents fled Mosul in droves. Militants captured the country’s second-largest city this week after soldiers scattered, leaving their uniforms and weapons behind.

The spreading violence prompted U.S. President Barack Obama to say the beleaguered government required assistance.

“It’s going to need more help from us, and it’s going to need more help from the international community,” Obama said. “I don’t rule out anything, because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria.”

A senior Obama administration official said Friday that the president has not yet made a decision on whether to act on any military options. But another senior administration official indicated that a decision could come as early as this weekend.

Airstrikes are among the options on the table, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday. But there will be no repeat of a large U.S. troop presence on Iraqi soil.

“We are not contemplating ground troops,” Carney said. “I want to be clear about that.”

U.S. officials have also discussed bolstering ongoing efforts to send arms, equipment and intelligence information to help Iraq and its military.

Kerry: Wake-up call

Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that the ISIS militants are a threat not just to Iraq, but to the United States and the rest of the world — and that is why Obama is urgently considering his next steps.

“Every country that understands the importance of stability in the Middle East needs to be concerned about what is happening,” Kerry said, speaking at a summit in London.

“That is why I am confident the United States will move rapidly and confidently in order to join with its allies in dealing with this challenge.”

Kerry said the latest events had been a “wake-up call” for Iraq’s divided political leadership, which has been accused of failing to address growing sectarian divisions.

The United States has a “very direct relationship” with Iraq, he said. “I don’t think anybody in the region or in this administration believes it is in the interests of the United States to turn our backs on that.”

The militants from ISIS want to establish a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the region — stretching from Iraq into northern Syria, where it has had significant success battling the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

Their lightning advance in Iraq has been aided by support from many Sunnis who feel that the Shia-dominated government has marginalized them.

.N: Summary executions, mass displacement

This week’s violence has created a brewing humanitarian crisis, thanks to the displacement of some 500,000 civilians from Mosul, and sparked fears of widespread rights abuses against civilians.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Friday expressed alarm over the rapid deterioration of the situation in the country.

“The full extent of civilian casualties is not yet known, but reports suggest the number of people killed in recent days may run into the hundreds, and the number of wounded is said to be approaching 1,000,” Pillay said in a statement.

She said she was deeply disturbed by reports that ISIS fighters, including prisoners freed when the militants overran Mosul’s prison Tuesday, “have been actively seeking out — and in some cases killing — soldiers, police and others, including civilians, whom they perceive as being associated with the government.”

Her agency has received reports of the summary executions of Iraqi army soldiers during the capture of Mosul, and of 17 civilians on a street in the city on June 11, she said.

More than 500,000 people have fled the fighting in Mosul, the International Organization for Migration said Wednesday.

Jittery families eager to leave sat in traffic jams stretching as far as the eye could see.

The U.N. refugee agency said many left with little more than the clothes on their backs and were in urgent need of shelter, water, food and medical care.

ISIS fighters amid civilian population

According to several U.S. officials, the U.S. military has not finalized a proposed set of ISIS targets in Iraq for Obama, amid significant military concerns that strikes may prove futile against ISIS fighters who are dispersed and mingled with a civilian population.

Several more top-level meetings are scheduled in the next 48 hours, as Obama mulls his course of action.

“Our planning is looking at the full range of options,” a senior U.S. official told CNN. Those options range from increasing U.S. surveillance flights over ISIS areas to potential airstrikes, the official acknowledged.

Washington has already provided $15 billion in training, weapons and equipment to the Iraqi government.

The country has been plagued by instability, though not on the current scale, for years. The United States led the 2003 invasion that toppled longtime leader Saddam Hussein.

Peshmerga gains

On Friday, fighting for control of towns in Iraq continued.

While the Iraqi army has done little to resist the advance of the ISIS militants, Kurdish fighters deployed by the semiautonomous Kurdish regional government, in coordination with Baghdad, are having more impact.

The Kurdish fighters, known as the Peshmerga, are battling ISIS in Iraq’s eastern Diyala province, said Mohammed Moullah Hassan, mayor of Khanaqin, a predominantly Kurdish area of Diyala.

He told CNN that 95% of Jalawla’a was now under the control of the Peshmerga, while the town of Sadiya is encircled on one side by the Peshmerga and on the other by ISIS, with Iraqi security forces still in the town.

On Thursday, authorities said Kurdish troops had beaten back militants to control the entire province of Kirkuk.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Malaki has called on Iraqi citizens to join the fight against the militants.

That call was echoed Friday by a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the most powerful Shiite cleric in Iraq.

During his Friday sermon in Najaf, Sheikh Abdul Mahdi Al-Karbalai urged Iraqis to volunteer and fight for security forces. “The responsibility to confront and fight the terrorists is everyone’s responsibility,” he said.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s Justice Ministry urged the prisoners freed by ISIS from Badoosh prison near Mosul to surrender to security authorities, according to a statement issued to the media.

It added that the detainees were convicted of civilian and criminal charges, not terror related offenses, and that a special pardon may be issued to absolve them from escape-related charges.

Iraq claims victory in Tikrit

After days of stunning defeats, Iraq claimed a key victory Thursday.

Tikrit, former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s hometown, was under full control of the military Thursday, state-run Iraqiya TV said. Just a day earlier, it appeared to be in the hands of militants.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said even though the military fled in Mosul this week, the government has since “taken a number of steps to push back the terrorists.”

The Iraqi military carried out airstrikes overnight targeting the al-Ghazlany military base, just south of Mosul, where a group of ISIS militants was believed to be based, the Iraqi Defense Ministry said Thursday.

Footage surfaced on social media sites Thursday purportedly showing ISIS militants parading heavy artillery through Mosul, a predominantly Sunni city of 1.6 million.

U.S. contractors evacuated

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said American citizens working on contracts supporting U.S. military sales to Iraq are being temporarily relocated.

Among those leaving for safety are U.S. contractors at a military base in Balad, about 55 miles (90 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

The security concerns were exacerbated by the seizure of 48 people, including diplomats, in a Wednesday raid on the Turkish Consulate.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Thursday that the health of those captured is “fine.” He said the government was working to secure their release.

Militants also seized parts of Baiji, a small town on the main highway to Mosul where Iraq’s largest oil refinery is located.

Earlier this year, ISIS took control of the city of Falluja and parts of Ramadi. Across the border in Syria, it controls towns such as Raqqa.

READ: Who’s to blame for Iraq crisis?

READ: What is the ISIS?

READ: A guide to the Middle East’s oil and gas reserves

CNN’s Jim Acosta, Yousuf Basil, Barbara Starr, Raja Razek, Arwa Damon and journalist Sherko Raouf contributed to this report.

Iraq has indicated a willingness for the U.S. military to conduct airstrikes against the militants.

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria chief orders jihadists to take Baghdad after overrunning Tikrit

June 12, 2014

JUNE 11, 2014

“Rerrorism must not be allowed to succeed in undoing the path toward democracy in Iraq’’

Families fleeing violence in Iraq’s Nineveh Province gathered at a checkpoint west of Erbil in the autonomous region of Kurdistan. Credit Safin Hamed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
MILITANTS have seized the Iraqi city of Tikrit as a jihadist offensive sweeps closer to Baghdad, prompting the UN Security Council to convene crisis talks while the US mulls air strikes on the rebels.
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria seized the second city of Mosul on Tuesday and has since captured a large swathe of northern and north-central Iraq includingTikrit — the hometown of executed dictator Saddam Hussein.ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani promised the battle would “rage’’ on the capital Baghdad and Karbala, a city southwest of the capital that is considered one of the holiest sites for Shi’ite Muslims, the SITE Intelligence Group said.

The UN Security Council swiftly convened a meeting to discuss the crisis in a sign of growing international alarm at the fast-moving situation.

The capture of Mosul and Tikrit and the militants’ earlier seizure of the city of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi, the capital of western Anbar province — have undone hard-fought gains against insurgents in the years following the 2003 invasion by US-led forces.

Washington is considering several options for offering military assistance to Baghdad, including drone strikes, a US official said on condition of anonymity.

Resorting to such aircraft — used in Afghanistan and Pakistan in a highly controversial program — would mark a dramatic shift in the US engagement in Iraq, after the last American troops pulled out in late 2011.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the US was committed to “working with the Iraqi government and leaders across Iraq to support a unified approach against ISIS’s continued aggression’’.

But there is no current plan to send US troops back into Iraq, where around 4500 American soldiers died in the bitter conflict.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Washington “strongly condemns’’ the ISIS attacks and “will stand with Iraqi leaders’’.

And UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the international community to unite behind Iraq, warning that “terrorism must not be allowed to succeed in undoing the path toward democracy in Iraq’’.

ISIS vowed on Twitter that it would “not stop this series of blessed invasions’’ that have seen the fall of the whole of Nineveh province in the north and swathes of Kirkuk and Saleheddin provinces further south.

Tikrit was the second provincial capital to fall in as many days as the jihadists and their allies captured a string of mainly Sunni Arab towns where resentment against the Shi’ite-led government runs deep.

“All of Tikrit is in the hands of the militants,’’ a police colonel said of the Salaheddin provincial capital, which lies half way between Baghdad and Mosul.

Another officer said the militants had freed about 300 inmates from a prison there.

The militants also gained entry to the Turkish consulate in Mosul and held captive 48 people, including diplomats, police, consulate employees and three children, according to Turkish officials.

After Tikrit’s fall, the operation spread down the main highway towards Baghdad, with militants battling security forces on the northern outskirts of Samarra, just 110 kilometres from the capital.

State television said security forces responded with air strikes, and residents said the fighting subsided without the militants entering the city.

Militants had already tried to seize the city late last week, and were halted only by a massive deployment of troops, backed by tribal militia and air power.

Samarra is mainly Sunni Arab, but is home to a shrine revered by the country’s Shi’ite majority, a site that was bombed by al-Qa’ida in 2006, sparking a Shi’ite-Sunni sectarian conflict that left tens of thousands dead.

The lightning advance poses significant challenges to Baghdad, with the New York-based Eurasia Group risk consultancy saying jihadists would be bolstered by cash from Mosul’s banks, hardware from military bases and hundreds of men they freed from prison.

In his weekly address on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki merely renewed his call to arm civilians to resist the jihadists.

Mr Maliki urged Nineveh’s residents “and its tribes to stand with the army and police’’.

The International Organisation for Migration said sources in Mosul estimated the violence leading up to the jihadists’ takeover saw over 500,000 people displaced in and around the city.



“These groups were unified by the same goal, which is getting rid of this sectarian government, ending this corrupt army and negotiating to form the Sunni Region,” said Abu Karam, a senior Baathist leader and a former high-ranking army officer, who said planning for the offensive had begun two years ago. “The decisive battle will be in northern Baghdad. These groups will not stop in Tikrit and will keep moving toward Baghdad.”

See The New York Times: Iraq Militants, Pushing South, Aim at Capital

Burned vehicles belonging to Iraqi security forces on Wednesday, the day after Sunni insurgents seized control of the city of Mosul. Credit Reuters


VA Secretary Eric Shinseki Quits, Followed By White House Spokesman Jay Carney

May 30, 2014


BURNT OUT? Carney lasted 3-1/2 years in the job, building a testy relationship with the proverbial herd of cats he wrangled daily in the White House press room

  • Carney will be replaced by his deputy Josh Earnest
  • President Obama made his second surprise appearance in the White House press briefing room in a single day to announce the passing of the torch
  • Multiple sources told MailOnline that Carney’s decision was a long time in coming
  • One, a White House insider, said the White House chose Friday for Carney to announce his departure because it would ‘deflect attention away’ from another high-profile resignation
  • VA Secretary Eric Shinseki quit Friday morning amid a major scandal involving military veterans who died waiting for medical care


Jay Carney is stepping down as White House Press Secretary over ‘strain’ on his family life, he announced today. But the decision to leave the Obama administration came weeks ago, multiple sources including one in the West Wing told MailOnline.

‘He first started talking about it in late April,’ the White House insider said Friday after the decision was made final. ‘But the president had the prerogative to pull the trigger when he decided to.’

CHEAT SHEET: Carney was known for referring often to a briefing binder full of talking points, rather than addressing many tough questions off-the-cuff

That time ended up being Friday, just hours after Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned amid a major scandal involving faked wait-lists and denied medical care in the VA health system.

‘To be honest, the move was more about how to deflect attention away from Eric Shinseki’s resignation, and less about giving Jay a thoughtful send-off,’ the White House official said.

And a in insider close to Carney  confirmed to MailOnline that Friday’s decision wasn’t made hastily.

‘There’s no scandal,’ the source said. ‘He wanted to go for a while.’

The insider also confirmed that he wants to spend the summer months with his wife, ABC News reporter Claire Shipman, and their children – and that he is exhausted.

The source added that Carney is confident he’ll be offered work as a TV pundit and cash in financially.



President Obama spoke directly to the White House press corps on Friday afternoon – his second hastily called appearance in a single day – to announce that Carney would be replaced by his deputy, Josh Earnest.

He confirmed that Carney has first approached him a month ago about taking another job.

‘In April, Jay came to me in the Oval Office and said that he was thinking of moving on, and I was not thrilled, to say the least,’ Obama said. ‘But Jay has had to wrestle with this decision for quite some time.’


SPLIT PERSONALITY: Carney played the role of passive boy scout in the briefing room, but showed an aggressive and sometimes vulgar exterior when challenged

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May 15, 2014: Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki speaks with the news media on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Obama says spokesman Jay Carney to step down, names deputy Earnest as replacement

May 30, 2014

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama interrupted the White House daily press briefing on Friday to announce that his spokesman Jay Carney is stepping down, and named as a replacement Josh Earnest, Carney’s deputy.

Obama said he would miss Carney and his advice, but called Earnest “a straight shooter and a great guy” who had been part of his team since he first ran for president.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

White House press secretary Carney answers questions about health insurance during a briefing at the White House in Washington

White House press secretary Jay Carney answers questions about health insurance during a briefing at the White House in Washington November 15, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

President Barack Obama to Meet With Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki Friday Amid Damning I.G. Report

May 30, 2014

Washington (CNN) — Calls mounted Thursday for a criminal investigation into sometimes fatal delays in care at Veterans Affairs hospitals amid revelations that patient wait times were tied to employee bonuses in at least one hospital.

The demands by lawmakers and veterans groups come as President Barack Obama appears to be asking Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to set the stage for his own departure, perhaps as soon as Friday.

Obama is waiting for an internal audit he ordered from Shinseki on the growing scandal before deciding whom to hold accountable, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

Shinseki’s preliminary report is due this week, Carney told reporters amid more calls from across the political spectrum for the secretary to step down or be dismissed over problems known for years but apparently never addressed.

Carney stopped short of saying Obama is standing by the embattled secretary, pointing instead to the President’s recent statement that Shinseki would likely not be interested in continuing to serve if he believed he let veterans down.

But that was not enough for a number of lawmakers in Congress after Wednesday’s release of a preliminary VA inspector general’s report that described a “systemic” practice of manipulating appointments and wait lists at the Veterans Affairs medical center in Phoenix.

The VA inspector general reported that at least 1,700 military veterans waiting to see a doctor were never scheduled for an appointment or were placed on a waiting list at the Phoenix VA, raising the question of just how many more may have been “forgotten or lost” in the system.

Rep. Steve Israel of New York, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is among those taking the outrage one step further, calling for a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice.

“I want to know if anybody at the VA doctored papers, engaged in a cover up, withheld care from veterans,” he told CNN, adding the demand in the form of a letter was hand delivered Thursday to Attorney General Eric Holder’s office.

“They need to be investigated They need to be prosecuted. They need to be fired.”

Republican Rep. Jeff Miller of Florida, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, made a similar demand of the Justice Department.

“I think the facts are too many now for them to look the other way,” he said.

The U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing the VA inspector general’s report but has not formally opened an investigation, Peter Carr, an agency spokesman, has told CNN.

The VA is under fire over allegations of alarming shortcomings at its medical facilities. The controversy, as CNN first reported, involves delayed care with potentially fatal consequences in possibly dozens of cases.

CNN has reported that in Phoenix, the VA used fraudulent record-keeping — including an alleged secret list — that covered up excessive waiting periods for veterans, some of whom died in the process.

The VA’s troubled history

The VA has acknowledged 23 deaths nationwide due to delayed care. The VA’s acting inspector general, Richard Griffin, told a Senate committee in recent weeks that his investigation so far had found a possible 17 deaths of veterans waiting for care in Phoenix. But he added that there was no evidence excessive waiting was the reason.

Among the findings at the Phoenix VA, investigators determined that one consequence of manipulating appointments for the veterans was understating patient wait times, a factor considered in VA employee bonuses and raises, the report said.

Read the rest:


From The Washington Post (Blogs)

By Jaime Fuller

The investigations into deaths and delays at Veterans Affairs hospitals are escalating, and statements calling for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki’s resignation are being released faster than journalists can write about them.

However, it’s not so clear where the White House stands on Shinseki’s political future — they have a history of being opaque when it comes to supporting (or not) politically toxic employees. The Washington Post’s Scott Wilson interviewed an academic about why presidents walk such a careful line when public opinion turns against their underlings last fall during the deeply flawed Obamacare rollout. “Generally, presidents are very bad at firing people,” said Stephen Hess at the Brookings Institute. “These things happen. But it reflects a mistake the president has made, and they don’t like to admit mistakes.” Presidents hope that if they change their opinions about coworkers in an ever so subtle way, you won’t even notice.

Since it’s so hard to figure out what the White House is exactly saying, especially in situations when the president’s reputation is on the line, here’s our very own Fix translator that takes White House statements on endangered employees and turns them into, well, regular English. It turns out that nearly every time someone calls for an Obama official to resign, the White House responds in the same exact way: with full confidence, whatever that means.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 15:  U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki reenters the hearing room after testifying to the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee about wait times veterans face  to get medical care May 15, 2014 in Washington, DC. The American Legion called Monday for the resignation of Shinseki amid reports by former and current VA employees that up to 40 patients may have died because of delayed treatment at an agency hospital in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki reenters the hearing room after testifying to the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee about wait times veterans face to get medical care May 15, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)


White House Press Secretary Jay Carney discusses Eric Shinseki on May, 6, 2014

White House: “The president remains confident in Secretary Shinseki’s ability to lead the department and to take appropriate action based on the IG’s findings.”

English: The president is confident that Shinseki will know that he is going to need to make some major changes when this report comes out. M-A-J-O-R changes.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney discusses Eric Shinseki on May, 9 2014

White House: “The president has confidence in Secretary Shinseki, who has launched a broad investigation into this matter and tasked or asked the independent inspector general at Veterans Affairs to investigate this matter.”

English: Stop asking us this question until we finish the investigation. We have nothing new to tell you, but you can use another quote about the president being confident if you want.

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Eric Shinseki on May 11, 2014

White House: “I worked very closely with Secretary Shinseki. And I know that he and I would agree to a lot of things. And unless he personally bird-dogged it, it was very tough for those things to get done in VA. I had my own problems in the Department of Defense, but I know it was a challenge for him and, frankly, for his predecessors.”

English: As someone who also had an impossible job in the Obama administration, I’m on Team Shinseki. There was no way he could succeed at the job he was given.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney discusses Eric Shinseki on May, 19 2014

White House: “The President has confidence in Secretary Shinseki.”

English: I told you we were going to keep repeating this until the investigations were done.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney answering the question, “Is Secretary Shinseki on thin ice here?  I mean, if he doesn’t show results on this soon, get satisfactory answers soon, are his days numbered?” on May 21, 2014

White House: “I think everyone in high office in an administration serves at the pleasure of the president.”

English: If Obama doesn’t like that report, Obama will, by definition, not be pleased. Make of that what you will.

President Obama on Eric Shinseki on May 21, 2014

White House: “I know that Ric’s attitude is, if he does not think he can do a good job on this and if he thinks he’s let our veterans down, then I’m sure that he is not going to be interested in continuing to serve.”

English:  The president is confident that Shinseki will know when the appropriate time to resign is. If it comes to that. Which it hasn’t.

President Obama on Eric Shinseki at a Memorial Day address at Arlington National Cemetery, which Shinseki attended

White House: (Silence)

English: I have a bad feeling about this.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on Eric Shinseki on May 23, 2014

White House: “I support Secretary Shinseki.  This is an individual who has the responsibility, as he has said, to be accountable. The President said yesterday that there has to be accountability. There does have to be accountability on — right up and down the line.”

English: If things get worse, he should probably resign. I’m not saying he should resign though. Also, accountability.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Eric Shinseki on May 29, 2014

White House: “The President believes and is confident Secretary Shinseki has heroically served his country as a solider.”

English: The President is confident in Shinseki’s past service, but is not so sure about the future quite yet.


U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before a House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 4, 2013. Under questioning from members of Congress, Sebelius testified that she made two phone calls  to companies not regulated by HHS in an attempt to raise money for a nonprofit group called

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies before a House Education and the Workforce Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 4, 2013. REUTERS/Jim Bourg

After the messy Obamacare rollout last fall, many politicians called for the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The White House responded with much confidence.

Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, on November 8, 2013

White House:  “Nothing has changed about the President’s full confidence in Secretary Sebelius.  I think you might be over-reading just a little bit into his comments.  But, no, the President has full confidence in Secretary Sebelius.”

English: We are at the “confidence, confidence, confidence” stage of this kerfuffle. We will let you know if we plan to change to a “strongly support” or a call for accountability at a later date, but for now, we are confident that we are not sure how to deal with this yet.

President Obama, asked by Bill O’Reilly why he didn’t fire Sebelius, in an interview before the 2014 Super Bowl

White House: “You know, my main priority right now is making sure that it delivers for the American people.”

English: My main priority is no longer expressing confidence in Sebelius. So, I’m not going to answer your question. Like, at all.

President Obama, announcing his nomination for Kathleen Sebelius’ replacement

White House:  “Now, just a couple things about Kathleen.  When I nominated Kathleen more than five years ago — I had gotten to know Kathleen when she was governor at Kansas and had shown extraordinary skills there; was a great advisor and supporter during my presidential campaign, and so I knew that she was up for what was a tough job — I mentioned that one of her many responsibilities at HHS would be to make sure our country is prepared for a pandemic flu outbreak. I didn’t know at the time that that would literally be her first task. Nobody remembers that now — but it was.”

English: Hey, remember her tenure wasn’t all about dealing with Obamacare backlash. She also had to deal with a flu outbreak! Yeah, sorry about that. I am confident she will enjoy retirement more than testifying in front of Congress.

United States Attorney General Eric Holder testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department and the reform of government surveillance programs, in Washington in this January 29, 2014 file photo. Holder on May 19, 2014 announced the indictments of five Chinese nationals on cyber espionage charges for allegedly stealing trade secrets from American companies. Picture taken January 29, 2014.REUTERS/Gary Cameron/Files  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY)

United States Attorney General Eric Holder testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on oversight of the Justice Department and the reform of government surveillance programs, in Washington in this January 29, 2014 file photo.  REUTERS/Gary Cameron/Files

During the “Fast & Furious” gun-running scandal, the White House was again, brimming with full confidence in Attorney General Eric Holder, at the request of the press.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, when asked “Would you favor us with a new statement of confidence in the Attorney General then?” during the Fast and Furious investigations on June 21, 2012

White House: “The President has full confidence in the Attorney General.”

English: If you haven’t figured out yet, “full confidence” is basically the White House equivalent of “no comment.”

Former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the the agency's targeting of tea party groups, where she invoked her constitutional right not to incriminate herself.  (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

Former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official Lois Lerner speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, March 5, 2014, during the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the the agency’s targeting of tea party groups, where she invoked her constitutional right not to incriminate herself. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)

The White House did not have full confidence in former IRS official Lois Lerner.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Lois Lerner on May 22, 2013

White House: “Let me say that, as you heard from the President immediately after the release of the independent Inspector General’s audit, he is absolutely committed to finding out everything that happened here, finding out who’s responsible for the failures, holding them accountable, and ensuring that the IRS take steps so that this will never happen again.”

English: Yes, I said “holding them accountable,” one of the scariest rhetorical weapons in the president’s possession. Let me also not that “holding people accountable” usually does not bode well for the person in question.