- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 31, 2008

PRESIDENT-ELECT

Obamas to move to D.C. this weekend

President-elect Barack Obama and his family will move to Washington this weekend and live in a hotel until Jan. 15, when they will move into the Blair House.

In the weeks after the election, Mr. Obama remained in Chicago reviewing potential administration hires, but a transition official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said he will come to Washington “to continue work on an economic-recovery plan.”

Congress reconvenes next week, and Democratic leaders have said they want to begin work on a spending bill they say will stimulate the economy.

Mr. Obama’s children will also be in Washington for the beginning of classes at Sidwell Friends School.

Currently, Mr. Obama is vacationing in Hawaii with his family. He also attended a memorial service for his grandmother, who died at the end of the presidential campaign.

Mr. Obama had asked the Bush White House whether his family could move into the Blair House at the beginning of the new year so his children could start school on time, but the White House said the Blair House was booked.

The Blair House is across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House and is often used to house visiting foreign heads of state. It traditionally becomes available for an incoming president on Jan. 15, five days before inauguration.

SOMALIA

Kerry urges caution in pursuing pirates

As incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. John Kerry favors using hot pursuit against pirates in the waters off Somalia, but urges a cautious approach before U.S. officials consider sending American forces to chase them ashore.

The Massachusetts Democrat, who plans committee hearings next year looking at the problems posed by piracy, said a hot-pursuit policy on Somalia’s coastline is “long overdue.” But he warns against any “haphazard, sloppy” military missions.

“You gotta know what you’re getting into and where you’re going and under what circumstances,” Mr. Kerry, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, said in a recent telephone interview with the Associated Press. “I mean, if you send five police officers raging into the center of Mogadishu, you are asking for trouble. You gotta be smart.”

Responding to the growing problem of piracy in Somali waters, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously earlier this month to authorize nations to conduct land and air attacks on pirate bases.

NEW YEAR’S

Clintons to revel in Times Square

NEW YORK | Last New Year’s Eve they were in Iowa. This year, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and former President Bill Clinton will be in Times Square, helping Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg lower the glittery New Year’s Eve ball.

The Clintons will lead hundreds of thousands of revelers in the final 60-second countdown and push the ceremonial button that lowers the ball, ending their roller-coaster year that saw the former first lady lose to President-elect Barack Obama but be named secretary of state.

Up to a million people are expected Wednesday to wait for the clock to strike midnight, with the forecast calling for snow and temperatures in the low 30s.

GUANTANAMO BAY

Judge OKs detention of two combatants

Two Guantanamo Bay detainees, including a Yemeni man accused of being a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden, were correctly labeled as enemy combatants and are being held lawfully at the prison at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

It was the latest ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, who last month ordered five Algerians freed from the naval prison because the evidence against them was flimsy. That ruling led to the first court-ordered prison transfer from Guantanamo Bay.

In Tuesday’s ruling, Judge Leon said Moath Hamza Amhed Al Alwi, of Tunisia, and Hisham Sliti, of Yemen, were being held lawfully. Both men were captured in Afghanistan, where prosecutors say they stayed with al Qaeda supporters.

The cases are among those that President-elect Barack Obama’s administration will soon inherit. Mr. Obama has said he wants to close Guantanamo Bay. His incoming administration is working on a plan in which some detainees would be released and others would be charged in U.S. courts.

Al Alwi is accused of training with al Qaeda and serving as a bodyguard for bin Laden. Lawyers for both men deny their clients did anything wrong.

There is no evidence in the court ruling that either man took up arms against U.S. forces.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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