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Stephen Dinan

Stephen Dinan

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FILE - In this June 15, 2011, file photo, then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testifies regarding the Department of Defense Fiscal Year 2012 budget request before the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Defense on Capitol Hill in Washington. Gates asserts in a new memoir that President Barack Obama grew frustrated with U.S. policy in Afghanistan and that Vice President Joe Biden has been wrong on nearly every foreign policy and national security issue. He also accuses members of Congress of inquisition-like treatment of administration officials.  (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Gates says Obama, Clinton played politics with Iraq war

President Obama’s former defense secretary says in a new book that both the president and then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton acknowledged in front of him that they opposed the Iraq surge because of presidential politics. Published January 7, 2014

"It's a complete failure for me. It won't let you progress. It freezes up," Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, says of his attempts to sign up for Obamacare using the website. (associated press)

GAO watchgdog: CBP, ICE security database upgrade seen veering off course

The government's chief watchdog said Monday that the Homeland Security Department is in danger of another billion-dollar technology boondoggle, adding that the immigration agency's effort to upgrade the database for security checks at the U.S. border already has missed deadlines and appears to be veering off course again. Published January 6, 2014

Alonzo Hersford Cushing  was an artillery officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He died at the Battle of Gettysburg while defending the Union position on Cemetery Ridge against Pickett's Charge, for which he earned the Medal of Honor 147 years after his death.

TIMELESS: Medal of Honor approved for Civil War and Vietnam veterans

More than 150 years after he gave his life at Gettysburg leading the effort to repel Pickett's Charge, 1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing is finally on track to get the Medal of Honor after Congress last month approved waiving the time-limit for the nation's top military honor. Published January 6, 2014

FILE - In this Oct. 29,2013 file photo, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Obama administration will continue the National Security Agency's surveillance programs and cyber command operations under the direction of a single military commander, the first move in advance of what published reports described Friday as limited changes proposed by a task force that deliberated for months in secrecy.  (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci, File)

Secret court approves three more months of NSA phone snooping

The secret court that oversees the nation's intelligence activities renewed its approval of the National Security Agency's telephone-records program on Friday, granting the government a new three-month window to collect data on all Americans' phone calls. Published January 3, 2014

File - In this Aug. 27, 2013 file photo, Sergio Garcia speaks at The Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles news conference in Los Angeles. The California Supreme Court granted a law license on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014, to Garcia, who is living in the United States illegally. Garcia, who graduated from law school and passed the state bar exam, can begin practicing law despite his immigration status. He arrived in the U.S. illegally 20 years ago to pick almonds with his father. (AP Photo/Nick Ut, File)

CA's top court rules illegal alien can join bar

The California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that an illegal immigrant can join the bar and begin to practice law in that state, granting a major symbolic victory to immigrant rights advocates who say it's a step on the path to equal treatment in employment law. Published January 2, 2014

2014 begins with $54 billion in tax hikes

A final congressional stalemate in late December means the New Year's expiration of a host of tax breaks, amounting to a $54.2 billion increase for green-energy businesses, teachers, homeowners, college students and others. Published December 31, 2013

** FILE ** Illegal immigrants prepare to enter a bus after being processed at Tucson Sector U.S. Border Patrol Headquarters Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012, in Tucson, Ariz. New strategies being implemented by the U.S. government, including the halting of one-way flights back to the interior cities in Mexico, are in place to streamline processing and expedite a return to Mexico. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Sluggish economy seen dragging down U.S. population rate

The U.S. population this year grew at its lowest rate since the Great Depression, according to the latest Census Bureau estimates Monday that suggest the sluggish economy continues to tamp down on immigration, and birth rates are still low for those already here. Published December 30, 2013

Desert beauty: The saguaro cactus grows only in the Sonoran Desert in southern Arizona and Mexico. It flowers in late spring. (Associated Press)

Implanted radio chips help park rangers protect precious cactus from poachers

TUCSON, Ariz. — Theft in the Wild West goes back for centuries, but it's not often you think of the landscape itself being stolen — in this case, the saguaro cactus, the jaunty, multi-armed icon of Arizona that turns out to be a desired addition to many homeowners' front yards. Published December 29, 2013

** FILE ** (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

FAA safety data kept hidden

The Federal Aviation Administration is finally collecting a trove of confidential safety data from commercial airline operators, but the agency is still "years away" from analyzing the information to predict problems and doesn't even allow its own inspectors to look at the data. Published December 26, 2013

**FILE** The sun rises May 13, 2009, over the Guantanamo detention facility at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba. (Associated Press)

Obama issues signing statement objecting to restrictions on Gitmo transfer

President Obama signed the massive defense policy bill into law Thursday but used an accompanying statement to say he reserved the right to ignore part of the legislation that prevents him from transferring detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to the U.S. mainland. Published December 26, 2013


Interior sides with environmentalists, denies road through Alaskan refuge

The Obama administration handed environmentalists a significant victory Monday when the Interior Department decided against allowing a road to be built through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska, dashing the hopes of locals who said the route was critical for safety. Published December 23, 2013

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, gestures as she speaks to reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Pelosi: Obamacare will be 'glorious'

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Monday defended Obamacare amid fellow Democrats' concerns, saying that while the politics may be tricky right now, eventually having voted for the health care law will be a boon. Published December 23, 2013

Democrats see campaign test in jobless benefits extension

Democrats have already signaled their first fight for the new year — trying to extend unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless for the 12th time since the economic downturn began and saying it's a test of the income inequality campaign message they'll use in this year's elections. Published December 23, 2013

** FILE ** Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters following a closed-door briefing by intelligence agencies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Tuesday, April 23, 2013. (Associated Press)

Top lawmakers fight to save NSA snooping program

The top four lawmakers who oversee the U.S. intelligence community said Friday that President Obama should reject his own review panel's recommendations that bulk collection of government of Americans' phone records should be curbed. Published December 20, 2013

President Barack Obama speaks during an end-of-the year news conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. At the end of his fifth year in office, Obama's job approval and personal favorability ratings have fallen to around the lowest point of his presidency. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Obama: 2014 will be 'breakthrough year' for U.S.

President Obama said Friday that he "screwed it up" in the rollout of his health care law, though he said the system is now working much better and hundreds of thousands of people have been able to sign up for coverage. Published December 20, 2013

"We haven't debated the [National Security Agency]. We haven't debated this issue of sexual assault, the [Iran] sanctions, the detainee issue," Arizona Sen. John McCain said of a defense policy bill. But the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee said he would vote for the bill. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Senators work late on 'take it or leave it' defense bill that ignores big issues

The Senate labored into the night Thursday on a vote to clear a massive defense policy bill that ignores many of the big issues such as Iran's nuclear program and government mass-snooping programs, after Democratic leaders blocked all amendments and forced what one senator called a "take it or leave it" vote. Published December 19, 2013