Saturday, May 30, 2009


$50,000 reward offered for data

The National Archives is offering a $50,000 reward for recovery of a missing computer drive containing sensitive Clinton administration data.

The Western Digital My Book external hard drive was discovered missing about March 24 from an Archives processing room in College Park. The Archives said Friday that its inspector general and the Secret Service have not uncovered any evidence of theft or targeting of the device for its data.

The drive can hold enough data to fill millions of books. It contains backup tapes from the Executive Office of the President, including some Social Security numbers, addresses and Secret Service and White House operating procedures.

Those with information are asked to call the Secret Service at 202-406-8800.


Department suspends farm worker rules

The Labor Department is suspending a regulation adopted shortly before President George W. Bush left office that would have made it easier for farmers to bring in foreign workers.

Many immigration and labor advocacy groups opposed the rules for lowering wages and eliminating some protections for temporary farm workers.

The rule affects the H-2A guest worker program, which lets employers hire foreign workers if they can’t first find American workers. Farm owners supported Bush administration changes, saying they eliminated red tape that made it harder to bring in foreign workers to help harvest crops.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis had proposed suspending the rule in March. The suspension restores old program regulations while officials craft new rules.


Garden feeds officials, poor alike

The White House garden is blooming and bursting.

That’s what first lady Michelle Obama told some of the Washington, D.C., fifth-graders who helped her plant it.

Mrs. Obama visited their school Friday for a presentation by some of the students on their experiences at the White House. She also helped plant bell peppers and cucumbers in their garden.

Mrs. Obama said the White House garden that was planted in March on the South Lawn has already produced 80 pounds of different kinds of lettuce. Some of the crops have been served at the White House. Others have been donated to a local soup kitchen.


Petraeus supports prison closure

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. | Closing the military prison at Guantanamo Bay would purge the U.S. of a symbol used by enemies to divide the nation, the head of the U.S. Central Command said Friday.

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus said the U.S. military is “beat around the head and shoulders” with images of detainees held in Guantanamo, the facility in Cuba that President Obama has vowed to close. He said closing Guantanamo and ensuring detainees are dealt with by an appropriate judicial system would bolster the nation’s war effort in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I do believe very strongly that we should live our values,” he said. “Generations of soldiers have fought to defend those values, and we should not shrink from living them, from operationalizing them, on the battlefield.”

Gen. Petraeus, who oversees U.S. military involvement throughout the Middle East, Afghanistan and Central Asia, is dealing with another symbol of American hostility after dozens of civilians died in western Afghanistan this month.

“We do not want our soldiers fighting with one arm behind their back, we do not want fair fights. We want our soldiers to be able to employ all the means that we’ve employed over there to support them and enable them when we make contact with the enemy,” he said.

At the same time, though, he said the military must strive to achieve its top goal: “We’re there to secure and serve the people - and that is our paramount mission.”

Gen. Petraeus spoke after delivering a commencement speech to 38 graduates of Georgia Gwinnett College, a suburban Atlanta liberal arts school that opened in 2006.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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