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Obama's Social Media Strategy Against ISIS Falling Short, Experts Say


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration’s new drive to battle the ideology of ISIS using social media is falling short of expectations and its potential because the White House was late to the game, disregarded the work of the previous administration, and hasn’t properly funded the effort, some experts and government officials say.A major part of the new anti-ISIS tactics, run by the State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, is an English-language social media campaign called “Think Again, Turn Away,” which features rapid responses to pro-ISIS rhetoric and sarcastically toned YouTube videos intended to mock ISIS’ fundamentalist intentions. Some of the videos have been criticized as amateurish and ill-suited to their intended targets.One recent “Think Again, Turn Away” video facetiously urged would-be jihadists to “run, don’t walk” to join ISIS and kill fellow Muslims. Tweets from the campaign’s Twitter handle, clearly branded a U.S. government effort, frequently include images, like an old picture, tweeted on Sept. 11 of this year, of the late Osama bin Laden hiding in his compound with the words “Would you throw away your life for those who hide far away?”Such a tactic may have been effective with core al-Qaeda operatives, but less so with the more diffuse groups of today, critics say.The tone and content of the “Think Again, Turn Away” postings do not appeal to the campaign’s key demographic, said James Glassman, the Bush administration’s last Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs who worked with the 2008 Obama team as it transitioned into office, and who championed the use of diplomatic resources to counter-extremism -- in fact helping start a more informal version of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications.“The kind of person who joins ISIS or AQ who’s in his late twenties is not a particularly rational person at that stage in his life. And to say, ‘Hey, think again’; I’m just a little bit dubious about it,” he said.But former public diplomacy and counterterrorism officials from the Obama and Bush administrations say the program could be much more effective against ISIS now if the White House had been more supportive of its mission back in 2010, when officials from State, DOD, the intelligence community and elsewhere started working together to combat al Qaeda’s digital communications.One former State Department official with knowledge of the formation of the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications said the specialists working on this task sought to make it a permanent, more robust part of the State Department’s public diplomacy apparatus, but the White House’s National Security Council originally wasn’t interested.“They tried to cut it off at the knees at every step,” the official said of the NSC’s inertia on the issue.After several false starts, the official said, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton intervened directly with President Obama, explaining to him the importance of having a centralized group dedicated to countering extremist ideology – mostly from al Qaeda at that point – on their own digital turf, including chat rooms and other digital forums.“The president got the briefing and said, ‘Why aren’t we doing this already?’” the official recounted, saying advocates of the program like Clinton and Daniel Benjamin, the coordinator for counterterrorism at State from 2009 to 2012, pushed the hardest for the president to officially charter CSCC as part of the State Department’s Bureau of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, which he did by executive order in September 2011.An Obama administration official denied that the State Department took the plea directly to the president. “This is an initiative that we prioritized internally and on which the NSC has worked tirelessly to establish and push forward,” the official said.Several former administration officials said part of the resistance was because other agencies like the National Counterterrorism Center were wary of the State Department’s taking ownership of what they believed was their domain, even if the CSCC is an inter-agency program, meaning it includes officials from all over the government.“Inter-agency efforts make sense because all the stakeholders contribute and you avoid stepping all over each other. The downside is agencies always protect their turf,” Tara Sonenshine, the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs from 2012 to 2013, said. Bush-era public diplomacy officials who worked with the Obama transition team in 2008 said Obama was reluctant to engage in anti-Islamist communications because it clashed with his strategy of reaching out to Muslims who may have been alienated by Bush’s more aggressive tactics.“The assumption is, the evil Bush administration and militarized strategy was toxic to Muslims so we had to show ourselves as friendly,” Mike Doran, the Defense Department’s public diplomacy chief from 2007 to 2008, said of the Obama team’s mind-set.“We thought that we were engaged in not just a physical struggle but an ideological struggle” against Islamist extremists, Glassman, who helped popularize the phrase “war of ideas,” said. “I was told by the transition people [in late 2008], ‘We don’t use that phrase,’” he said.William McCants, the Clinton State Department’s senior adviser for countering violent extremism (CVE), said he disagreed with both Bush and Obama’s approaches because they were too quick to frame the issue as affecting all Muslims, not just a small percentage of evildoers.But regardless of the approach, he said, neither effort was well-funded.“Whether you’re talking about the war of ideas stuff or you’re talking about the hug-the-Muslim-world stuff, both of those bigger efforts were not resourced well in either administration,” McCants said. “The budget for this is tiny in the scheme of things, and given the nature of today’s information environment, digital is where it’s at.”For the past three fiscal years, funding for CSCC has hovered around $5 million, although it’s possible funding will increase as part of Congress’ continuing resolution to fund the government that it has to pass in December.Current and former State Department officials praised the CSCC in their work countering extremist rhetoric abroad, especially their work in foreign languages and combating core al Qaeda, which was more robust when the CSCC began.But the organization appeared to be so under-resourced, and pulled in so many directions, that it was not even working on social media strategies for ubiquitous platforms like Twitter as late as mid-2012.“We are focused overseas in foreign languages and not in English and not in something like Twitter, which is very narrowly defined; that is not an area where we work on a regular basis. Al Qaeda doesn't use Twitter,” CSCC coordinator Alberto Fernandez said in testimony before the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on terrorism in August 2012.Some committee members seemed surprised to hear that the Obama administration’s marquee organization for strategic counterterrorism communications wasn’t operating in those spaces.“The English language is international. And preventing someone fluent in English from becoming radicalized may be many times more important than preventing someone else from being radicalized,” said Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., adding that it was hard to criticize Fernandez’s group for not doing more because they had so many responsibilities and so little funding.Added Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-S.C.: “I do think the Department of State and your center do have some jurisdiction in this as regard to what foreign nationals do use Twitter for. And they are absolutely using Twitter.”“Think Again, Turn Away” began tweeting at the end of June of this year.Officials at any federal agency would undoubtedly say their mission could use more money. But McCants said if the Obama administration would widen CSCC’s budget just a bit, it could hire more experts in public diplomacy and strategic communications, like political operatives or satirists, which wouldn’t cost much more but could make a big difference.“If you had money you could really bring in an amazing array of people that could enhance the effectiveness of the program,” he said.Richard LeBaron, who ran the CSCC the year before it became an official part of the State Department, agreed that the administration could get a lot more bang for its buck, likening operatives’ skills to those of a Navy SEAL, but much cheaper.“If you want a cadre of people over time with special operations level, SEAL-team level skills and you want that to be sustained,” he said, “we’ve got to be spending more than we’re spending now.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

White House Fence Jumper Enters Not Guilty Plea


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Omar Gonzalez, the man accused of jumping a perimeter fence and running through the first floor of the White House armed with a knife, appeared in federal court Wednesday as his lawyer entered a plea of “not guilty” to the charges against him.Gonzalez, wearing an orange jumpsuit, was led into the courtroom with his hands behind his back and said nothing during the hearing. He listened intently and at one point whispered with his lawyer, public defender David Bos.Wednesday marks the first time the public has seen Gonzalez since the details of his Sept. 19 excursion into the White House were revealed, and the appearance comes the same day Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned.After his arrest, Gonzalez was charged with unlawfully entering a restricted building while carrying a dangerous weapon. On Monday, a federal grand jury indicted him for that federal offense as well as violations of DC law: carrying a dangerous weapon outside a home or place of business, and unlawful possession of ammunition.On Wednesday, Magistrate Judge Deborah A. Robinson in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, said that the accused’s next appearance would be Oct. 21 at 10:30. He will be held without bond.The issue of Gonzalez’ competence came up when the judge announced she had received a report from pre-trial services. She suggested she was poised to order a forensic screening.In court, Bos objected, saying there was “no basis” for the screening at this time. Bos pointed out that neither he nor the government had requested a competency evaluation. The judge gave Bos until Thursday to file a motion on the matter.Outside of court, in the hallway, Bos said that if a screening is done, he would insist it be done by one of his experts.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Mitt Romney and 2016: Could It Be True?


Robert Giroux/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A presidential defeat isn’t an easy thing to bounce back from. And Mitt Romney did it twice. So it was understandable that after he lost the presidential race in 2012, he was adamant about closing the door to the possibility of a third campaign.But recently, speculation is whirling that Romney may not be so adamant anymore.When asked if he was running in a New York Times interview published earlier this week, Romney said: “I have nothing to add to the story. We’ve got a lot of people looking at the race. We’ll see what happens.”That response, which set off the firestorm of speculation about a possible candidacy, is vastly different from the one he issued just nine months ago: “Oh, no, no, no. No, no, no, no, no. No, no, no,” he told The New York Times last January at the premiere of Mitt, the documentary about his 2012 candidacy. “People are always gracious and say, ‘Oh, you should run again.’ I’m not running again.”The discrepancy between the two responses has been fueled by Romney's recent presence on the political scene. As midterm campaigns enter the home stretch, his star power seems akin to Hillary Clinton’s for the Democrats. He has stumped for candidates on the campaign trail and sent personal emails requesting fundraising for the National Republican Congressional Committee.Daniel Scarpinato, the group’s national press secretary, previously told ABC News that Romney has an ability to rake in a higher level of contributions for the Republican Party because “a lot of Americans want to see him as president.”Policy-wise, he has been more vocal about publicizing his opposition to the Obama administration, lambasting the president’s foreign policy on Fox News and penning an op-ed opposing cuts to the military in the Washington Post.All of this seems like groundwork for a presidential run. But several people, including his former running mate Paul Ryan, have affirmed that Romney has no interest in running again.In an interview Tuesday with the Huffington Post Live, Ryan said that, if Romney has reiterated multiple times he isn’t running, then he isn’t running. (Ryan did note however, that if Romney were to run, he would not run against him.)So in short, no one has any idea if Romney is running. If his most recent response is true, he doesn't know either. But the fact that he didn't rule out running means that we don't have to rule him out.And if he does run, his experience and star power could make him a frontrunner. As he told Fox News’ Chris Wallace in 2013 about his 2012 campaign: “I did better this time than I did the time before.”Perhaps the third time could be the charm.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson Is Resigning


Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Secret Service Director Julia Pierson, who has been skewered by critics over the Sept. 19 White House security breach, is resigning, sources told ABC News Wednesday.Pierson’s resignation comes in the wake of an incident in which Omar Gonzalez, a knife-wielding Iraq War vet, allegedly managed to slip over the fence, past several layers of security, and into the White House’s East Room, where he was subdued by an off-duty agent.Lawmakers at a congressional hearing Tuesday demanded to know how such a breach of one of the most secure buildings in the world could have taken place."It will never happen again,” Pierson assured lawmakers at the hearing.Congress also questioned her about a 2011 incident in which agents failed to realize the White House had been sprayed by bullets until a housekeeper pointed out a pane of broken glass.“You’re not taking your job seriously,” Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., said. “I have very low confidence in the Secret Service under your leadership.”At least one lawmaker has called for Pierson’s resignation.“I think this lady has to go,” Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, the most senior Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, said Wednesday. “I’m convinced that she is not the person to lead that agency.”Administration officials had hoped Pierson, named director on March 26, 2013, could overhaul the scandal-plagued agency, which suffers from cultural problems as well as operational ones.Not long after Pierson assumed her post, the Secret Service, still under fire from the Cartagena, Colombia, prostitution scandal the year before, was lambasted anew when it was discovered that an agent had left a bullet in a Washington hotel room after spending the evening with a woman in May 2013.Though a Homeland Security report released the following December concluded agency leadership hadn’t “fostered an environment that tolerates inappropriate behavior,” concern that agent misconduct might endanger the first family lingered.Then in March 2014, three counterassault agents responsible for protecting Obama in Amsterdam were sent home after getting drunk less than 10 hours before they were expected to report for duty.The agency has also dealt with a spate of White House fence-jumpers -- 17 in the past five years, according to Pierson -- though everyone but Gonzalez was quickly subdued on the lawn.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Pizza Guy Is Shaking Up North Carolina Senate Race


Megan Morr/For the Washington Post/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- By day, Sean Haugh delivers pizzas and resells old books on Amazon. But moonlighting as North Carolina’s Libertarian Senate candidate, he could serve up the state’s hotly contested Senate seat to Democrats in November.“I’m very much a factor in the race,” Haugh told ABC News.If the contest between Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis remains narrowly divided in the final weeks of the race, political strategists believe Haugh could siphon votes away from Tillis and help hand the incumbent Democrat a victory. Democrats believe North Carolina is increasingly becoming their best firewall to stop Republicans from picking up the six seats needed to win control of the Senate.“If it’s really close -- people might say even at 2 percent -- Haugh would be playing a role in the outcome,” said North Carolina State University political scientist Andrew Taylor.Haugh, 53, is no stranger to state politics. He ran for Senate as a Libertarian in 2002, and has also worked with the state’s Libertarian Party in various capacities. He said he entered the race in February as an “act of conscience.”“There wasn’t any Libertarian stepping up,” he said.His platform, laid out in a series of low-fi YouTube videos filmed at the home bar in his campaign manager’s basement, calls for “peace and fiscal security,” and an alternative to candidates “owned by outside corporate interests.”In 2002, Haugh received 34,000 votes, roughly 1.5 percent of the electorate. Even with little more than $7,000 in contributions and his YouTube channel, he is optimistic about his chances this year.“We have two candidates out there that are really unacceptable,” Haugh said. “People are repulsed by the negativity and look for an alternative.”Republicans see a path to reclaiming the Senate majority through Sen. Kay Hagan’s seat in the increasingly conservative state. While vulnerable, the freshman Democrat has proven surprisingly resilient.“Hagan has run a perfect race with no mistakes,” said Larry Shaheen, a North Carolina Republican strategist.Hagan led Tillis 46 percent to 43 percent in a recent CNN poll. Haugh captured 7 percent of likely voters in the same survey -- votes both major party candidates could sorely miss on Election Day should the race remain close.Republicans have enlisted the likes of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to boost Tillis on the campaign trail. Sen. Rand Paul appeared with Tillis in Raleigh Wednesday.Paul endorsed tea party candidate Greg Brannon in the Republican primary, but has lent his Libertarian credentials to Tillis' efforts. Besides his appearance Wednesday, the Kentucky Republican has filmed ads with the Chamber of Commerce that will air in the state in support of Tillis.“Republicans are worried,” Haugh said of his candidacy. “They’ve got a lot of internal problems with the party.”Neither campaign responded to requests from ABC News for comment on Haugh’s campaign.Haugh’s calls for ending American military intervention and legalizing marijuana make him a “different kind of Libertarian” than those who could siphon away conservative voters from Republicans in Senate races, said Taylor.“It would be wrong for Tillis to worry about Haugh, and not his head-to-head matchup with Hagan,” he said.But Haugh called the attention his campaign has received a “tremendous victory.”“However many votes I get, that’s a message,” he said.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Senators Want Pentagon Probe of Sex Abuse Intimidation Claims


Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Two senators are asking the Pentagon to investigate claims by female soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, that senior commanders discouraged them from reporting additional sexual assaults.The allegations emerged during the trial of a drill sergeant at the base who was convicted of sexually assaulting eight female trainees under his command.Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have written Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to urge that the “troubling allegations” be investigated.“We are deeply disturbed by media reports of the testimony of a victim and witness during this court martial that they and those around them were discouraged from reporting sexual assaults by their leadership,” they wrote in a letter sent to Hagel on Tuesday.They cited media reports of the testimony of two female witnesses at the court martial of Staff Sgt. Angel M. Sanchez for sexually assaulting and abusing female solders he was training at Fort Leonard Wood.Last week, a military judge found Sanchez guilty and recommended a 20-year prison sentence. The sentence must be approved by the post’s commander.One of the witnesses alleged that a lieutenant colonel at the base “told her company of trainees several months ago not to report allegations of sexual assault.” That witness says she now has “issues of trusting those who are in charge of me.”Another female witness testified that her unit’s command sergeant major told her company of military policemen several months ago that “if any more sexual assault cases come forward” the whole company of soldiers would not graduate from advanced individual training.McCaskill and Gillibrand urged Hagel to begin an investigation saying, “If none has been opened, we request that you open one immediately and keep us informed of the progress of that investigation. We know that you share our desire to eliminate this scourge from the military.”“The Department has received the letter from Senators Gillibrand and McCaskill, and will respond promptly and directly to them,” said Pentagon spokesman Maj. James Brindle. “We appreciate their concerns regarding this issue.”An Army spokeswoman said that the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command had previously conducted an investigation that included a review of issues such as command climate in the unit, particularly as it related to the training, procedures and enforcement of sexual assault prevention program.“The investigation also examined whether unit command statements to trainees were proper and allegations reported as required. The Headquarters Department of the Army is now in receipt of that investigation and is reviewing it,” the spokesman said.Both McCaskill and Gillibrand have been at the forefront of reforming procedures for how the military tackles sexual assault in the military. They have been at odds particularly over Gillibrand’s legislation that would have taken military commanders out of the chain of command in deciding whether to prosecute sexual assault in their units.In the end, the Senate overwhelmingly passed McCaskill’s legislation that among other things said the “good soldier” defense should not be a factor for commanders in determining if a case should proceed to prosecution.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Pelosi 'Subscribes' to Cummings' Analysis that Julia Pierson Should Resign


Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says she subscribes to Rep. Elijah Cummings' analysis that the director of the Secret Service, Julia Pierson, should resign.“If Mr. Cummings thinks that she should go, I subscribe to his recommendation,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said during a news conference Wednesday at the Capitol. “I agree with his analysis, yes,” she reiterated. “If that’s what he is suggesting, I support his suggestion. But if you follow up and say, ‘tell me why you think she should leave,’ I don’t have the knowledge that he has so I am subscribing to his superior judgment and knowledge on the subject.”Pelosi also joins a number of lawmakers, including Cummings, D-Md., who are calling for an independent investigation of the Secret Service after numerous incidents jeopardized their trust in the agency to guard the president. “In terms of the Secret Service and the protection of the president of the United States…there has to be an independent investigation as to what is going on at the Secret Service,” she said. “The protection of the president has to be precise, it has to be flawless and there has to be accountability when that is not the case.”While she said she agrees with Cummings, Pelosi also said she believes the problems at the troubled agency “may be more than one person.”“I’d like to see an investigation of the culture and the procedure and the accountability in the Secret Service, because while I have confidence in Mr. Cummings, complete confidence, I do think that the challenge may go beyond [Pierson], because some problems existed before she was there,” Pelosi said. “Her leaving doesn’t end the need for us to know a lot more about what is happening. But again, I would accept the recommendation of [Cummings],” she added.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Rep. Cummings on Secret Service Director: 'This Lady Has to Go'


Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After sleeping on Secret Service Director Julia Pierson’s testimony, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the most senior Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is calling for Pierson’s resignation.“The president is not well served. …I think this lady has to go -- Ms. Pierson,” Cummings, D-Md., said during a radio interview with Roland Martin on NewsOneNow Wednesday morning. ”There has to be drastic changes.”It appears that the latest news about an incident in Atlanta, where the president ended up on an elevator with a contractor who was a convicted felon and had concealed a firearm, was the final straw for Cummings.“I’m convinced that she is not the person to lead that agency. My trust has eroded,” Cummings later told Diane Rhem during another interview Wednesday on WAMU. “This is supposed to be the No. 1 protective agency in the world, guarding the most protected person in the world, the most protected house in the world. And it appears they are not doing a very good job.”Initially after the hearing Tuesday, Cummings refused to call on Pierson to step down, saying, “the jury is still out,” and that he didn’t “think she should necessarily resign.”“I think that we are going to have to keep a very close watch on this agency,” he said Tuesday following a closed-door executive session with Pierson.Cummings, who said he expects to have a one-on-one conversation with Pierson on Wednesday, is now the first member of Congress to flatly call for Pierson to go.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

NM Senate Candidate Stands by Controversial Campaign Video


ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- New Mexico Republican Senate candidate Allen Weh says he didn’t intend to make national headlines with the release of a provocative web video that used a frame of video of American journalist James Foley’s killer -- a move his critics called “offensive.”But now that he is in the spotlight, Weh told ABC News he has absolutely no regrets over his controversial entrance onto the national stage.“I'm not a politically correct guy in a lot of ways, that's one thing,” Weh said. “This town may not be ready for me. I will call a spade a spade.”Standing by the campaign video, Weh writes off the blowback he’s received as isolated “far left” critics, and points out that the Web video only showed an image of Foley’s killer and not some of the more graphic scenes.“It didn't include the frame of the beheading, it included the frame of the killer,” said Weh. “The whole message was very simple: failed leadership in Washington. …[It had] nothing to do with that one particular jihadist.”Weh, a retired Marine who has served in active duty three times, including in Vietnam and Iraq, is framing his military experience as an asset in a campaign that is considered an uphill battle against Democratic incumbent Sen. Tom Udall.“I'm going to advocate for a strong American leadership in the world based on my experience,” he said.“It's important when it comes to these issues, because I look at things with great deliberation. I'm going to be the last guy to vote to put our men and women in uniform in harm's way until it's absolutely necessary,” Weh said. "You’ve got to have a strategy, and you've got to have an end state. And when you have that, you turn it over, you select your plan to achieve that strategy and the goal, and you go for it.”As President Obama weighs his options to counter the rise of ISIS, Weh has played up his democratic opponent’s connections to the commander-in-chief, arguing that the president’s approach to foreign policy has failed."He's let domestic politics drive his agenda,” Weh said of Obama. “You can't put your head in the sand, because the bad guys in the world aren't going to let us put our heads in the sand. That's part of the job I don't think he appreciated when he got elected. Well, he's getting a full dose of it now -- but he's got to man up to it.”Though Weh has never held political office before, this is not his first foray into New Mexico politics.He competed in the state’s 2010 gubernatorial race, but lost the Republican nomination to Susana Martinez, who went on to clinch the New Mexico governorship in the general election.Now, Martinez’s name is being floated as a potential 2016 presidential contender.Though Weh said he has since “mended fences” with Martinez, and that “she’s doing a great job” as governor, he declined to say whether he thinks she would make a good presidential candidate, should she run.“Let me get elected, and then I'll come back on your show and we can talk about presidential politics -- but I'm staying away from that,” Weh said.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Behind Congress' 'Attack' on NFL Tax Breaks


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A raft of damaging headlines have sparked new efforts on Capitol Hill to hit the NFL where it hurts: in the pocketbook.New bills were introduced in recent weeks to strip the National Football League of its not-for-profit status, which it holds despite the billions in revenue it helps deliver for teams, and the $44 million annual compensation package enjoyed by the league’s commissioner, Roger Goodell.In the latest episode of the ESPN/ABC podcast “Capital Games,” Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton -- co-sponsor of the House bill that would end that tax break -- said the push is yet another way she hopes the NFL will force the Washington football team to change its nickname.“The NFL greed is so widespread that they’ve chosen to operate as a tax-exempt organization. So we want to take that choice away from them unless, and until, they decide not to profit from a name that has now officially been declared a racial slur,” said Norton, the Democratic non-voting House member who represents the District of Columbia.“We’re talking about the people’s money. Whether this gains traction, it’s another level of attack on the NFL,” Norton added.While Norton is focused primarily on getting her hometown Washington Redskins to change their name, the issue of the league’s tax status is facing renewed scrutiny in the wake of a spate of domestic violence incidents involving players, in addition to recurring issues around substance abuse and head injuries.The new efforts are being championed primarily by Democrats, including Norton, Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey. But they could dovetail with a longstanding push led by conservative Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., to end the special tax treatment enjoyed by the NFL, NHL and PGA, among other sports leagues.Also on the podcast, National Journal columnist and veteran political analyst Norm Ornstein talked about what he calls the “unhealthy and unholy relationship the NFL has long maintained with Congress.” Ornstein believes the time is coming for Congress to end the “crony capitalism” that has allowed the league to get special treatment under the tax code.Meanwhile, Michael McCann, a University of New Hampshire law professor who writes about sports legal issues for Sports Illustrated, said the tax exemption doesn’t mean that much to the NFL. He said he doesn’t see Congress moving to end it, and noted that the not-for-profit status is limited to the central league office, not the profitable individual teams.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

POLL: Broad Backing for Airstrikes on ISIS; Less for US Forces as Advisers in Ir


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Seven in 10 Americans support airstrikes against Islamic State insurgents in Syria, but far fewer back sending U.S. forces to Iraq as advisers -- evidence in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll of the political risks of returning U.S. soldiers to that volatile region.Fifty-three percent support sending U.S. forces to train Iraqi government troops and coordinate air strikes against Islamic State positions. But that’s comparatively modest in terms of support for military action, and 17 percentage points behind the public’s endorsement of airstrikes.[See PDF with full results, charts and tables here.]The Obama administration’s campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria includes placing U.S. advisers in Iraq to coordinate airstrikes, and training of Iraqi forces may occur. The president -- perhaps cognizant of broad public dismay with the U.S. intervention in Iraq under his predecessor, George W. Bush -- has pledged not to engage U.S. forces in a combat role.Obama himself has a 50 percent approval rating for handling the conflict with ISIS in this poll, produced for ABC by Langer Research Associates -- far from stellar but exceeding the 44 percent who disapprove. It’s also more than the 42 percent approval of his handling of the situation in Iraq in June and August, before U.S.-led airstrikes were extended to ISIS positions in Syria.Notably, Obama receives approval from 30 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of conservatives for his handling of the situation -- well short of majorities, but also far above his overall job approval ratings from those groups, 10 and 19 percent, respectively, in an ABC/Post poll in early September. He also gets 45 percent approval from political independents for handling the confrontation with ISIS, 8 points better than his overall job rating from this group.ACTION – The results on military action align with longstanding public attitudes on military intervention, with lower-risk airstrikes far preferred than more-committing ground combat. Support for military action also can rely on the presence of a clear threat -- which the public sees in ISIS (six in 10 in early September called it a “very” serious threat to U.S. vital interests) -- and broad international participation, which Obama has worked to achieve.Among groups, support for airstrikes is almost the same among men and women, at 72 and 69 percent, respectively, despite customarily higher support for military action among men. Support for sending U.S. forces in an advisory role reverts to form, dropping by 11 points among men but further, by 23 points, among women.There are risks for Obama; sending advisers is least popular among some of his core support groups, including half or fewer of nonwhites, liberals, younger and lower-income adults, as well as women. Young adults, age 18 to 29, also are comparatively skeptical about airstrikes -- 55 percent support them, vs. 80 percent of those age 50 and older.Regardless of divisions about advisers on the ground, the poll indicates the level of public antipathy toward ISIS. Support for airstrikes against the group in Iraq started at 45 percent in June, rose to 54 percent in August and then to 71 percent in early September, when 65 percent also said they’d support extending those strikes to Syria. With that air campaign now underway, its 70 percent support reflects a broad level of agreement in fractious political times.METHODOLOGY – This ABC News/Washington Post poll was conducted by landline and cell phone Sept. 24-28, 2014, in English and Spanish, among a random national sample of 1,001 adults. Results have a margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama 'Retains Full Confidence' in Secret Service Despite Security Failures


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- The Secret Service has been facing tough questions in recent days after it was learned that the man who jumped the White House fence on Sept. 19 got farther into the building than previously believed.White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday that despite the concerns, President Obama "retains full confidence in the men and women of the Secret Service to do their very important work." He would not, however, say whether the president was aware of the full details of the intrusion, other than to note that Obama has "gotten a couple of briefings on this matter."Also on Tuesday, a Secret Service official told ABC News that in a separate incident, first reported by the Washington Examiner, an armed man was allowed in an elevator with the president during a CDC event in Atlanta earlier this month. The official said that the individual was flagged for acting unprofessionally in the elevator, and that the Secret Service later determined that he had been charged with a crime. It was not immediately clear whether the man had been convicted. The official said that Obama was not in any danger, though the incident will likely raise more questions."There's a common interest that exists between all of you, those of us here at the White House that work directly for the president and the officials at the Secret Service to provide accurate information as soon as possible to the American public," Earnest said Tuesday.Also on Tuesday, the fence jumper, Omar Gonzalez, was indicted by a federal grand jury. Gonzalez faces one federal charge of unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds while carrying a deadly or dangerous weapon. He also faces charges for two violations of District of Columbia law -- carrying a dangerous weapon outside of a home or place of business, and unlawful possession of ammunition. He is expected to appear in court on Wednesday.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama, Indian Prime Minister Pen Op-Ed Expressing Unity, Hope for 'Better World'


Official White House Photo by Pete Souza / Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi penned a joint op-ed in the Washington Post on Tuesday, discussing their countries' efforts to "help shape international security and peace for years to come."In the piece, the two leaders point to the shared past of the two nations as an indicator of what positivity can be brought by their continued partnership. Calling the modern partnership "robust, reliable and enduring," the two noted an ongoing expansion to that relationship.With the growth of a new government in India, Obama and Modi call for "a new agenda, one that realizes concrete benefits for our citizens." India, the op-ed says, continues to work to improve the "quality, reliability and availability of basic services, especially for the poorest of citizens," a goal that the U.S. "stands ready to assist" with.Perhaps even more important, the two leaders note a relationship as global partners, and the hopes that together, their nations can combat "the toughest of challenges," highlighting the ongoing Ebola outbreak, researching cures for other diseases and the empowerment of women and improvement of food security in Afghanistan and Africa."The promise of a better tomorrow is not solely for Indians and Americans," Obama and Modi write. "It also beckons us to move forward together for a better world."Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

US Energy Dept. to Keep NM Nuclear Waste Facility Closed Through 2015


Photo by Joe Raedle(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Energy Department announced on Tuesday that it would keep the New Mexico nuclear waste facility closed through 2015, following an underground fire and radiation leak earlier this year.According to a press release from the DOE, operations at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M., were suspended following the fire and leak in February. The facility is the only one in the U.S. for the dumping of nuclear waste. "Safety is our top priority," said Mark Whitney, the acting assistant secretary for the DOE's Office of Environmental Management. Whitney announced the WIPP Recovery Plan, which outlines the steps that will be taken before operations can resume."Some of the top nuclear and recovery experts from DOE and the nuclear industry helped develo this plan and I'm confident we will be able to safely and compliantly resume operations in the first quarter of 2016," he said.The facility is built 2,000 feet below the desert in salt mines. While it had only accepted low-level nuclear waste from the U.S. nuclear weapons program, officials had hoped to upgrade its permits to accept high-level nuclear waste.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Obama, Kerry Praise Signing of Bilateral Security Agreement


State Department photo/ Public Domain / Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday praised the long-awaited signing of the Bilateral Security Agreement allowing U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan past the end of 2014.In a statement, the president called the signing "a historic day in the U.S.-Afghan partnership," noting the opportunity to "advance our shared interests and the long-term security of Afghanistan."Obama had hoped an agreement would be signed since last year. The then-Afghan President Hamid Karzai declined to sign the agreement, and for months, the Obama administration was hopeful that following the recent Afghan presidential election -- and the ensuing audit of votes -- the new leader would agree to the deal.The agreement gives U.S. forces and forces from partner countries the legal protection necessary to carry out the NATO Resolute Support mission after the International Security and Assistance Force mission ends at the end of the year.Kerry echoed the praise offered by President Obama, calling the signing of the BSA "a milestone moment" that "sends a long-awaited and unequivocal message that the United States and Afghanistan are determined not just to sustain, but to build on more than a decade of progress.""The gains of the past decade have been won with blood and treasure," Kerry said. "They must not be lost, and we all have a stake in ensuring they're a foundation upon which to build."Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Six Secret Service Safeguards Breached by White House Intruder


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- There were at least six safeguards that failed when a man jumped the fence and got deeper into the White House than anyone before.Secret Service Director Julia Pierson appeared Tuesday before a House Committee over the biggest breach in security since she took over the post in March last year.Though the agency's spokesperson initially said that former veteran Omar Gonzalez was apprehended just inside the North Portico doors during the Sept. 19 incident, that has now been proven false.Further details first reported by The Washington Post make it clear that there were a half dozen steps that were not taken by the Secret Service during the close call, just minutes after the Obamas had left the building."How on earth did it happen?" House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa said in his opening statements at Pierson's hearing Tuesday morning.Here's a step-by-step look at what happened:The Fence and Plainclothes OfficersThe first breach that occurred came when a team of plainclothes Secret Service agents circulating the perimeter of the White House fence did not spot Gonzalez as he climbed over. That team is in place as an early warning intended to alert the rest of the Secret Service team.Crash Boxes and Front DoorWhen any officer spots an intruder -- which should have been the plainclothes team -- agents should hit the red button in the "crash boxes" posted throughout the White House and grounds. That alarm would lock the door to the White House, but since it never went off, the doors were left unlocked.Booth AgentIf the plainsclothes agents failed to spot someone climbing the fence, there is an officer stationed in a guard booth on the North Lawn.Attack DogIf that officer sees the intruder, but realizes that they will not be able to apprehend them before they reach the White House, the officer is supposed to send an attack dog to stop the intruder.According to The Washington Post, people familiar with the incident said that the officer may not have felt that they could release the attack dog because there were other Secret Service officers pursuing Gonzalez by foot, and the officer may have feared that the dog would attack the Secret Service agents rather than the intruder.SWAT Team and Extra GuardThe guard in the North Lawn booth is also trained to send a SWAT team and a guard to the front door to confront the intruder. Neither of these were sent.Guard at the Front DeskThe final breach came when Gonzalez ran past the guard inside the North Portico door, through the entrance hallway, down a hall past the staircase that would lead him directly to the first family's private residence and into the East Room. It was only there, in the room used for formal state dinners and national security announcements, where Gonzalez was finally taken and physically tackled by a Secret Service agent."The fact is the system broke down on September 19," Issa said.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Secret Service Director: White House Intrusion 'Unacceptable'


ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Facing an outraged Congressional committee Tuesday, Secret Service Director Julia Pierson called the White House intrusion that took place on Sept. 19 “unacceptable.”“Protecting the White House complex is a challenge in any environment,” she said. “We are never satisfied by the status quo and we are constantly reviewing our security protocols.”In a startling security lapse, 42-year-old Omar Gonzalez, armed with a 3-and-a-half-inch serrated knife, scaled the north fence at the White House, stormed through the unlocked North Portico door and barrelled past an agent into the East Room just minutes after the first family had departed the White House.House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa called lawmakers back to Capitol Hill to convene the rare recess hearing, saying the failure “has tested the trust of the American people in the Secret Service” to protect the president.“Common sense tells us that there were a series of security failures, not an instance of praiseworthy restraint. Inexplicably, Omar Gonzalez breached at least five rings of security on September 19th,” Issa, R-Calif., said. “The White House is supposed to be one of America’s most secure facilities, and in fact, one of the world’s most secure facilities. So how on earth did it happen?”Pierson -- brought in just 18 months ago to clean up the scandal-plagued agency -- now faces a scandal of her own.She said 16 people have been apprehended for scaling the fence over the past five years, including six this year.“Our goal today is also clear: to determine how this happened and make sure it does not happen again,” said Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md. “I hate to even imagine what could have happened if Gonzalez had been carrying a gun instead of a knife when he burst inside the White House. That possibility is extremely unsettling.”A “crash box” alarm that should have alerted agents of an intruder had been muted at the behest of the chief usher’s office, the Washington Post reported Monday, and the agent guarding the door had no time to lock it before Gonzalez entered.While the incident was the primary focus of the hearing, lawmakers also demanded answers about an incident the next day when an unauthorized vehicle was cleared into the White House compound, as well as a 2011 incident when a man fired several rounds at the White House while some of the president’s family was inside.Pierson reportedly requested that much of the hearing take place behind closed doors, calling a public discussion of Secret Service practices “beyond reckless.” Lawmakers claimed the public deserves to know what happened, but agreed to hold a classified session immediately following Tuesday’s open hearing.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Clay Aiken Sings Different Tune in Bid for Congress


ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- More than a decade after Clay Aiken made his singing debut on the stage of American Idol, he is taking to the political stage, competing for a very different sort of title: U.S. Congressman.Running as a Democrat in North Carolina’s 2nd District, Aiken is making the case to voters that his voice is good for more than just singing.“What people don't recognize is that in the months and weeks following American Idol, I worked to set up an organization for kids with disabilities, and for the last 11 years I've helped grow that organization from one that had programs in North Carolina to one that has programs in states across the country,” Aiken told ABC News.In an effort to get voters to focus on him as a candidate rather than a singer, Aiken has put a stop on the singing -- at least for now -- as he travels across in his native North Carolina, where he faces an uphill battle as a Democrat running in a conservative district.“I recognize that this box that people have me in is that of a singer,” Aiken said. “There's a whole bunch more to me than just being a singer, and we've done a great job of explaining that to folks. By singing I put myself back in the box, and that's not necessarily what we're trying to do here.”During an appearance on The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert tried to get Aiken to sing the national anthem with him, but he refused. “There's a very big difference [between] doing it in a mocking way and doing it seriously,” Aiken explained.The Colbert Report aside, Aiken has made a few exceptions to his ban on campaign trail singing.“There've been one or two times on the campaign trail, where it was organic -- there was a band, and somebody else was singing -- and I stepped up and sang just a little bit,” Aiken said.Aiken said he’s running for Congress to fill what he sees as a “vacuum” of needed leadership in Washington. And in his home district, Aiken believes there is a sentiment of anger toward Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers, who was elected in 2010.“My mom used to joke that I was gonna go…to Hollywood, and 'go Hollywood.' And I clearly did not, I stayed about a year and a half and came home, and I'm the same person I was before,” Aiken said.And though Aiken said he didn’t “go Hollywood,” he believes Ellmers has gone Washington.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Seven Questions for Secret Service Director Julia Pierson After WH Intrusion


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- On the heels of the Washington Post’s revelation that the armed man who scaled the White House fence earlier this month not only entered the executive mansion but bolted past a guard and into the East Room, the Secret Service has come under fire once again.According to White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, President Obama was “obviously concerned” about the Sept. 19 perimeter breach -- and in a rare moment of accord, the Republican-controlled House share his concern.Tuesday, members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will grill Secret Service Director Julia Pierson about the agency’s repeated lapses. Here's seven questions lawmakers are likely to ask:1. Why the lack of transparency?Monday’s revelations don’t exactly square with the agency’s original explanation, which seemed to imply that the 42-year-old fence jumper, Omar Gonzalez, had been apprehended just inside the entrance.The day after the incident, the Secret Service released a statement saying simply, “Gonzalez failed to comply with responding Secret Service Uniformed Division Officers’ verbal commands, and was physically apprehended after entering the White House North Portico doors.”2. Didn’t Gonzalez’s erratic history raise a red flag?Secret Service investigators interviewed Gonzalez, an Iraq vet, at least twice before he stormed into the White House on Sept. 19.Two months before the incident, authorities in Virginia discovered a sawed-off shotgun and a map marking the White House stashed in Gonzalez’s car. They confiscated the weapons but concluded he wasn’t a threat to the president. And about a month later, officers spotted Gonzales wandering along the south fence with a hatchet in his waistband. They determined they didn’t have enough evidence to hold him.Gonzalez’s motives aren’t clear: Though he had armed himself with 3 ½ inch knife, he claims his only intent was to warn the president that the “atmosphere was collapsing.” Still, the fact that a man repeatedly flagged by Secret Service managed to make it so far into what was once considered most secure residence in the nation is troubling.3. Why didn’t agents fire?The Secret Service Uniformed Division supposedly maintains “five rings” of protection to create a secure perimeter around the executive mansion. But it was a counterassault agent patrolling the interior -- an agent who was never supposed to come face-to-face with a would-be fence jumper -- who eventually subdued Gonzalez.At the North Gate, a plainclothes surveillance team posted outside the gate failed to notice Gonzalez clambering over the eight-foot fence.Then, in quick succession, a guard booth officer, SWAT team, and K-9 unit all failed to respond.They allowed Gonzales to dart into the White House, which had been vacated by the first family just minutes before.4. Why didn’t they release the dogs?The K-9 unit, a team of Belgian Malinois dogs trained to attack intruders, was also not deployed.Sources say officers were afraid the dogs would attack the officers pursuing Gonzalez instead of the intruder himself.5. Why wasn’t the door secured?Gonzales didn’t have to force the front door or pick the lock. It wasn't locked.Secret Service agents generally wait for notice of an intruder to lock the front door -- but the officer guarding the entrance on Sept. 19 wasn’t aware of a fence jumper until he was almost upon her.Gonzales dashed past her and ran past the entrance to the first family’s private quarters and into the ceremonial East Room on the first floor.6. Why is the Secret Service taking direction from hospitality staff?According to the Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig, someone had apparently muted a “crash box” alarm designed to alert officers of intruders -- at the behest of the usher’s office.Apparently, the alarm frequently went off without provocation, disturbing the staff. Even so, some lawmakers are chiding the agency for disabling the crash box “to appease superficial concerns of White House ushers.”7. How did the President actually react?In public, President Obama appeared calm, saying that the Secret Service “does a great job." But previous security breaches have reportedly left the president and first lady fuming.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Ted Cruz Says He's Made No Decision About 2016


Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Texas Senator Ted Cruz says that he had not made a decision to seek the 2016 GOP presidential nomination despite an article that says otherwise.A person identified as a "Cruz adviser" told the National Journal that "At this point it's 90/10 he's in. And honestly, 90 is lowballing it."The same article said the freshman senator would campaign for president on a strong foreign policy platform.However, Cruz took to Facebook Monday to post the following denial:"Contrary to media reports this morning, Heidi and I have not made any decisions about political plans past the mid-term elections. Clearly we have an overzealous supporter out there making freelance comments, but to be clear, no decision has been made. Whoever this 'anonymous advisor' was, he or she had no authority to speak, and doesn't know what they're talking about."Cruz is just one of numerous Republicans who have been mentioned as possible contenders for the 2016 Republican nomination. Others include Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.Follow @ABCNewsRadio!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton 'So Happy' to Be Grandparents


John Moore/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Chelsea Clinton has given birth to a baby girl, according to a tweet she sent out early Saturday morning.Her name is Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky.A Clinton spokesperson confirmed to ABC News that she was born Friday.Chelsea Clinton tweeted Saturday at 12:32 a.m., "Marc and I are full of love, awe and gratitude as we celebrate the birth of our daughter, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky."Her parents, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said Saturday in a statement that they are "blessed, grateful, and so happy to be the grandparents of a beautiful girl.""We are thrilled to be with our daughter and her husband as they welcome their daughter into the world," the statement continued. "Chelsea is well and glowing. Marc is bursting with pride. Charlotte's life is off to a good start."The former first daughter announced that she was pregnant in mid-April.President Obama even got in on the due-date jockeying, joking while at the Clinton family's foundation event in New York that she might have to commandeer his motorcade."I was just discussing with President Clinton that if Chelsea begins delivery while I'm speaking, she has my motorcade and will be able to navigate traffic," Obama said with a smirk.The former first daughter didn't let her impending due date slow her down as she appeared at an event for her family's foundation this past week.Clinton, 34, and her husband Marc Mezvinsky reportedly chose not to learn the sex of their baby before the birth.She resigned from her role at NBC News on Aug. 29. Clinton and her husband "look forward to welcoming our first child," she wrote in a note she shared on social media at the time.Her parents, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have regularly mentioned their joy at earning a new title -- grandparents. The former president spoke of his high hopes for the newest member of the family while speaking with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos at the 2014 Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting."I want them to get up every day and look at the world with wonder and reverence. I want them to respect everyone they meet, whatever their background. I want them to be aware of all the people that make their world and not just the people that they are introduced to," Clinton said."I want them to really love being alive. It's my first and whatever other grandchildren I have -- that's what I want. And when they grow up, I want them to believe they have certain obligations to people who don't have all the opportunities they'll have and to the larger society," he said.More ABC news videos | Latest world newsFollow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Clintons Tweet Out Baby Pictures


Wesley Hitt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  Hillary and Bill Clinton took to Twitter Saturday to show their joy and celebrate the birth of their granddaughter, Charlotte Clinton Mezvinsky.Hillary Clinton tweeted a photo Saturday afternoon showing her holding her new granddaughter.The new grandmother sits next to her husband, former President Bill Clinton."@BillClinton and I are over the moon to be grandparents! One of the happiest moments of our life," the tweet read.Charlotte Clinton Mezvinksy was born early Saturday morning, Chelsea Clinton announced on Twitter.Former President Bill Clinton also tweeted a photo of him playing with the new baby.The photo shows the Clintons sitting side by side, cuddling with Charlotte."Charlotte, your grandmother @HillaryClinton and I couldn't be happier!" he wrote.Follow @ABCNewsRadio !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="http://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio