- The Washington Times - Monday, June 8, 2009

WHITE HOUSE

Guilty pleas worry top Obama adviser

The Obama administration has grave concerns about allowing terrorism detainees to plead guilty and accept the death penalty, a presidential adviser said Sunday.

Senior White House adviser David Axelrod, in an interview taped for CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said giving detainees a chance to make martyrs of themselves by being executed by the United States is among those concerns.

A Justice Department task force is considering allowing five detainees accused of planning the Sept. 11 attacks to plead guilty. Those five, being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison, face the death penalty.

Mr. Axelrod said discussions on how to proceed with the detainees are continuing and that President Obama has made no decision.

FOREIGN POLICY

Carter to hold talks in Mideast

ATLANTA | Former President Jimmy Carter will visit Syria, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza this week to promote dialogue on the Israeli-Arab conflict, a spokeswoman for the Carter Center said Sunday.

Mr. Carter, 84, is already in the region, where he joined scores of foreign observers monitoring Sunday’s elections in Lebanon, expected to present an early test of President Obama’s efforts to forge Middle East peace.

In a speech in Cairo on Thursday, Mr. Obama promised to work aggressively to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and listed confronting “violent extremism” as the top priority in addressing tensions between the United States and Muslims.

Deanna Congileo, a spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based Carter Center, said details of the rest of Mr. Carter’s itinerary will be available later this week.

HOUSE

Resolution to honor intel community

Rep. Mike Rogers, Michigan Republican, upon returning from a trip to southwest Asia, where he met with intelligence officials, has proposed a resolution that he says honors “the brave men and women of the intelligence community of the United States, whose tireless and selfless work has protected America from a terrorist attack for the past eight years.”

“These professionals, at home or across the globe, execute a critical mission with quiet dedication and without the luxury or need of public recognition,” Mr. Rogers, a member of the intelligence committee and terrorism subcommittee, said in a statement. “They continue to display selfless service in protecting the United States and the American people.”

Mr. Rogers said he and House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, have called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to quickly bring the resolution to a vote.

That could put Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, in a potentially awkward situation as she has recently been embroiled in controversy after accusing the CIA of lying to Congress about the use of interrogation techniques that some consider torture.

“We should send a clear signal that the United States stands firmly behind its intelligence professionals and we support them as they risk their lives every day to keep America safe,” Mr. Rogers said.

Twenty Republican lawmakers co-sponsored the resolution with Mr. Rogers.

PRESIDENCY

Gingrich dubious on office’s power

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says it will take more than a president alone to achieve the change needed for the United States to compete with China and India.

Mr. Gingrich, appearing Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” said that with more than 500,000 elected officials across the United States, the president by himself cannot make the change the country would need.

Mr. Gingrich said that whether he would be able to govern would be a key consideration as he ponders a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. He said other factors are what his family thinks, whether a run would be practical and realistic, and whether he has a message to unify the country.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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