- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 24, 2009

MARINES

Commandant wants Marines out of Iraq

Iraq is stable enough to allow the roughly 22,000 U.S. Marines there to withdraw, the service’s top general said Friday.

“The time is right for Marines in general terms to leave Iraq,” said Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway.

That war has become largely a nation-building mission rather than the pitched fighting in which the Marine Corps excels, Gen. Conway said.

Gen. Conway said he wants to see up to 20,000 Marines deployed instead to the building fight in Afghanistan, especially in the south where insurgents and the Taliban and al Qaeda benefit from both a nearby safe haven and booming trade in narcotics.

The Marine Corps can’t fight in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, because it does not have enough combat support troops and equipment to divide between the missions.

Gen. Conway has been pushing for a large deployment of Marines to Afghanistan for months. No decisions have been made on the size of the force that would be sent.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama to address Congress next month

President Obama will address a joint session of Congress next month, though the speech may not be dubbed an official State of the Union.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, speaking to reporters at his second news briefing since the new administration came to power, said it is “likely” the president will speak to Congress “sometime in February, I don’t believe that we’ve got a date nailed down.”

He joked that networks were interested in the timing because of sweeps week.

He said he knew that top television bosses “are interested in how that coincides with ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ and I don’t mean Congress.”

Mr. Gibbs also announced that Mr. Obama will hold an economic meeting in the White House on Saturday.

HOMELAND SECURITY

Women will hold top posts at agency

President Obama’s nomination of Jane Holl Lute, a retired Army major who worked on the National Security Council under President Clinton, for deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department would place two women at the top of the department for the first time.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Friday the choice of Mrs. Lute, a top United Nations official.

Three secretaries and five deputy secretaries - all men - have served at the agency since it was established in 2003.

At the U.N., Mrs. Lute coordinates peace efforts among countries in conflict.

In addition to her NSC work, Mrs. Lute has served as vice president and chief operating officer of the United Nations Foundation. She served in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm. Mrs. Lute is married to Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, Mr. Obama’s deputy national security adviser for Iraq and Afghanistan.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama phones foreign leaders

President Obama has phoned the leaders of Canada, Britain and Saudi Arabia.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Friday that Mr. Obama had talked in the morning with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, British Prime Minster Gordon Brown and Saudi King Abdullah.

Mr. Obama plans to make his first international trip as president to Canada, a key ally that shares a border with the United States. The trip will keep with tradition, with most U.S. presidents making Canada their first stop.

Britain and Saudi Arabia also are longtime allies of the United States.

Earlier this week, Mr. Obama talked with Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian and Jordanian leaders about the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

GUANTANAMO BAY

Obama to weigh in on detainees

A federal judge has decided to give the Obama administration time to weigh in on some of the legal cases brought by terror detainees held by the United States, and the Supreme Court has granted a delay in the case of an alleged terrorist sleeper agent.

U.S. District Judge John Bates gave the new president and his Justice Department until February to tell him whether they want to change the government’s position on the definition of “enemy combatant.” Prisoners from U.S. detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan are challenging their detention as so-called enemy combatants in federal court.

The Obama administration has until Feb. 9 to weigh in on Guantanamo Bay cases and Feb. 20 to step in on cases involving detainees at Bagram Air Base.

OBITUARY

Supreme Court justice’s widow dies

Marion Stearns White, the widow of Supreme Court Justice Byron White, has died at age 87, the court announced Friday.

Mrs. White died Wednesday in Denver.

She was the daughter of former University of Colorado President Robert Stearns. Her future husband was a star football player at the university.

Both Whites served in the Navy in World War II. They were married in 1946.

Byron White, appointed by President John F. Kennedy, was a justice for 31 years. He died in 2002.

Survivors include two children, Charles Byron “Barney” White and Nancy White Lippe, and six grandchildren.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.


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