Legislative News
for the Week of
October 16, 2012
Rae Chornenky
Maria Jeffrey

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Rae Lynne Chornenky


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Libya Debacle Shows Obama Is Incompetent
 Rae Lynn Chornenky 

     On Monday, October 15, the Washington Times headlined Obama's handling of the deadly Libyan attack as "putting politics ahead of the safety of America's diplomats." 
         The White House and the Obama campaign are insisting that al Qaeda has been dismantled and the murderous attack was not, therefore, the work of al Qaeda. Republican leaders appearing on the Sunday news shows decried the fact that, according to Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a member of the powerful Senate Armed Forces Committee, they believe the White House has "been misleading us." Yesterday's mea culpa by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did little to allay skepticism of the Obama administration's mismanagement of the affair, especially in light of the facts below:    
  1. The White House failed to provide additional security for the U.S. consulate in Benghazi despite requests from that consulate for increased security. 
  2. During the vice presidential debate, Vice President Biden maintained neither he nor the president ever heard such requests even when both the U.S. State Department and military officers who were part of the security team contradict that story. 
  3. Within days, intelligence reports made clear that the attack was pre-planned to coordinate with the 9/11 anniversary and the attack was linked to al Qaeda.  
  4. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, continued to claim that the four murders of American diplomats were the result of a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islamic video played in the United States even after U.S. intelligence proved otherwise. 
  5. Even though the White House "was forced to walk back" that explanation, White House aides continued to stick to that story. 
  6. On September 25, two full weeks after the attack, President Obama gave a speech at the U.N. where he spoke at length about the youtube video he indicates was the impetus behind the attack on Americans in Benghazi. 
  7. State Department officials testified to Congress last week that the department never thought the attack was prompted by the youtube video.
  8. Charlene Lamb, deputy assistant secretary for international programs with the bureau of diplomatic security at the State Department, testified in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that she was aware of the attack and communicating with people on the ground in Benghazi during the attack in real time. This means she was aware of whether or not there was a spontaneous mob or a premeditated strike. 
  9. It is not clear when Obama met with his National Security Council after the attack. If the State Department is claiming they never thought the attack was related to the youtube video, then it is worth asking why Obama connected the attack and the video as late as September 25th. David Axelrod dodged the question about when Obama met with his National Security Council after the attack when asked by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. It is known that Obama went to a campaign stop near Las Vegas the day after the attack. 
        Senator Rob Portman asked while appearing on ABC's This Week program, "why did the administration try so hard to create the wrong impression about what happened?" The motivation, Senator Graham says, "comes down to simple politics." Obama is determined to heavily promote his foreign policy successes so he attempts to conceal any negative revelations about his foreign policy initiatives. 
        Senator Graham went further, stating that "whenever something goes bad, they deny, they delay and they deceive." GOP leaders have long reported that the truth of Obama's foreign policy in the Middle East is that his choices are allowing the region to become unraveled.   
Supreme Court Considers Affirmative Action
Rae Lynn Chornenky
        The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on October 10 in a case brought by a white applicant at the University of Texas claiming the university's attempt to boost the number of students of color cost her a spot in the freshman class of 2008. 
      Texas University at Austin (UT) reported that acceptance of approximately 75 percent of its applicants is based on high school graduation rankings. For the remaining applicants, the university uses what it termed a "holistic" evaluation that includes race as one of many factors. 
     Backers of the university's selection method defended the process as the university's right to assemble a racially diverse student body. Opponents, on the other hand, claim that the process violates the constitutional rights of those who are denied admission due to their Caucasian race. 
        The Washington Post described the case as "one of the court's most important cases of its new term, with potentially landmark consequences for the use" by universities of affirmative action. 
        In speculating what this court may decide, emphasis was placed on a 2003 ruling by the Supreme Court that universities could use race in a limited manner to achieve a "critical mass" of campus diversity which would benefit all students. Since 1978, the Supreme Court has held that promoting diversity on the nation's campuses is bona fide and therefore the court allowed universities to give some consideration to an applicant's race, which would otherwise be constitutional. 
        Questioning the attorney for UT, Chief Justice John C. Roberts, Jr., expressed his dislike for what he called "the sordid business" of categorizing Americans by race. Justice Alito's questions of the UT attorney indicated he is scornful of the method as well.        
Defense Contractors Layoffs and Politics
Rae Lynn Chornenky


     Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif) Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has asked defense contractors if they were contacted by the White House on whether or not to issue layoff notices to workers just days before the November 6 election.


      Defense contractors have said they are considering  laying off thousands of employees in the face of the Sequestration Act which will automatically cut defense funds at the beginning of the new year.  Under federal law, the defense contractors must give sufficient notice of worker dismissals to workers but the administration's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued a September 28 directive that advised contractors not to issue the notices of impending layoffs.  The OMB assured contractors that they would not be held liable even though not issuing the notices would place the defense contractors squarely in violation of the law.


       Representative Issa asked the companies to disclose whether  White House or agency officials contacted them about not sending out the required 60-day impending layoff notices just days before the election.  After the OMB directive was sent out, Lockheed, the world's largest defense contractor, canceled its plans to issue the legally required notices of impending layoffs. 


        House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) has been reported to have expressed anger at the administration's message to defense contractors.  He pointed out his opposition to having the White House and its OMB contact defense contractors telling them not to send out the legally required  notices.  If ever found in violation of the very law the White House is telling contractors to break, Majority leader Cantor claims these White House and OMB directives will amount to a taxpayer-subsidized shield against the contractors' liability.


       While Republicans in Congress say that the Sequestration Act defense cuts should be reversed, Democrats demand that added tax revenue must be part of any compromise to avert the spending cuts.  


         The White House, however, appears to be skirting the issue of impending lay-off notices until after the November 6 election.