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President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking at a joint press conference Monday at the White House, said they have both spoken to Russian President Vladimir Putin and while there may not be agreement yet on a way forward, they have reached some common ground.
"It is in both our interests that at the end of this there is a stable democratic Syria," said Cameron, who met with Putin Friday.
"If you look objectively, the entire world community has an interest in seeing a Syria that is not engaged in sectarian war...," Obama said, adding that would mean a Syria without slaughter that is acting as an "island of peace" in the region instead of an outpost for extremists. "That's also true for Russia."
Obama said he has also had several conversations with Putin. "Our basic argument is that as a leader on the world stage, Russia has an interest as well as an obligation to try and resolve this issue," he said.
He warned, though, that even if Russia sides with the United States and the United Kingdom in an effort to oust Syrian leader Bashar al Assad, there are other actors in the conflict that will make it difficult to resolve, including Iran and Hezbollah.
"All that makes a combustible mix, and it's going to be challenging," he said.
Actor Samuel L. Jackson is slated to play the U.S. president in an upcoming action-adventure movie, according to the Hollywood Reporter:
Samuel L. Jackson is attached to star as the president of the United States in rising star Jalmari Helander's English-language debut, Big Game.
The movie is billed as an adrenaline-fuelled action-adventure and tells the story of a shy, nervous 13-year-old boy who, like his forefathers, takes a test of manhood by spending one day and night alone in the wilderness of a vast local forest.
Armed only with a bow and arrow, his task is to return with a prize to prove himself. But when Air Force One is shot down by terrorists, the young man discovers the U.S. president in an escape pod, and they have to team up as the terrorists close in.
Defense lawyers for a man facing war crimes charges at Guantanamo Bay are asking a military judge to guarantee the attorneys' right to use pens, notebooks and even eyeglasses during meetings with their client, according to a motion released Monday.
The motion was precipitated by a lawyer for prisoner Abd Al-Rahim Al-Nashiri being told he could not bring a wire-bound, spiral notebook to a meeting with his client. The attorney, Richard Kammen, said he'd brought notebooks to such meetings since 2008, without incident.
"JTF-GTMO...determined that the thin wire spiral binding of the notebook constituted something of a threat," lawyer Richard Kammen wrote in the motion (posted here). "There has never been any past suggest ion that a wire bound notebook would or realistically could be disassembled to provide a client with a weapon, but after he was not allowed to use his spiral notebook, counsel utilized as different notebook with binder clips that in counsel's opinion could more easily be used as a weapon than the spiral in the spiral notebook."
Kammen said Guantanamo personnel quoted security directives to him that appeared to ban not only spiral notebooks, but also pens and eyeglasses at meetings between lawyers and their clients. But, he said, those items haven't been prohibited in practice.
"Both counsel and client are regularly permitted to bring their eyeglasses into meetings. Similarly, counsel has always been permitted pens and pencils of varying composite materials, sharpness, and lengths in both meetings with the defendant at the detention facility and in proceedings before this commission," Kammen wrote.
The civilian attorney said, however, that guards sometimes step in to regulate the use of pens. "Should counsel allow a client to write with counsel's pen for any length of time during attorney-client meetings, the guards interrupt and require the detainee to use another more flexible pen which, presumably in the opinion of JTF-GTMO, constitutes less of a threat," the motion says.
Al-Nashiri is charged with planning the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in a harbor in Yemen in 2000, which killed 17 American sailors and injured several dozen more.
Guantanamo defense lawyers have been doing more than their usual share of writing longhand in recent weeks, after breaches and failures involving computers prompted the chief defense attorney to order a halt last month to the use of computers for all confidential materials.
President Obama says he learned about the IRS scandal the same way everyone else did -- from news reports.
He said during a press conference Monday that if the reports are found to be true and the agency targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny during last year's election, then further action must be taken.
"This is pretty straightforward," Obama said. "If in fact IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices..that were reported on, then that's outrageous and there's no place for it, and they have to be held fully accountable."
The president noted that the IRS is an independent agency and that the American people must be able to have faith that it is completely independent and not driven by political bias.
"This is something that I think people are properly concerned about," he said. "... If you've got the IRS operating in anything less than a neutral and nonpartisan way, then that is outrageous..."
"I've got no patience with it, I will not tolerate it," Obama said.
POLITICO's Jennifer Epstein has the full story over on the home page.
President Obama says the focus on the editing of Benghazi talking points is nothing more than a politically motivated "sideshow."
He said during a press conference Monday that the American people should instead be focused on the administration's response to the attacks -- the effort to determine who carried them out, bring them to justice and ensure it never happens again. Obama noted that his administration is already implementing recommendations from an independent review.
"The whole issue of talking points, frankly, throughout this process has been a sideshow," he said.
The talking points about the attacks on the American diplomatic facility in Libya that killed four Americans on 9/11 turned out to be wrong, and the White House initially said it had very little involvement with editing them, but emails surfaced last week showing they were revised 12 times with significant input from the State Department and at the direction of the White House, as reported by ABC News. The edits included removing any reference to an al Qaeda affiliate and to CIA warnings prior to the attack.
The president said Monday that those emails were provided to members of Congress months ago who concluded there was nothing wrong, but now "suddenly three days ago, this gets spun up as if there's something new.
"There's no there there," he said.
Obama argued that if this was some kind of coverup, as his critics have suggested, then he and his administration would not have released the information.
"The whole thing defies logic," he said, adding that he believes it's a politically motivated attack by his opponents who have used it to also raise money. He said the exercise "dishonors" those who died, including the late ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.
"We don't have time to be playing these kinds of political games here in Washington," Obama said. "...We dishonor them when we turn things like this into a political circus."