Author Topic: Sen. Corker: White House Meeting About Obama’s Foreign Policy ‘One Of The Most Bizarre I’ve Attended’  (Read 240 times)

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Offline mountaineer

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White House hosts senators for ‘bizarre’ secret foreign policy meeting
Olivier Knox, Yahoo News
14 hours ago

Yahoo News White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and National Security Adviser Susan Rice met with a bipartisan delegation of senators late Tuesday for secret talks focused on foreign policy, several sources with knowledge of the discussion told Yahoo News.

Sen. Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, alluded to the meeting on Wednesday, as the panel held a hearing on whether and how to overhaul the signature law of the global war on terrorism.

“I know we both attended sort of a discussion last night that I found to be one of the most bizarre I've attended on Foreign Relations on foreign policy in our country,” Corker said at one point, referring to himself and Sen. Bob Menendez (D.-New Jersey), the committee’s chairman.

“I know several of us were involved in a very bizarre discussion last night. This continues a very bizarre discussion,” Corker said at another point.

The Tennessee Republican did not say where or with whom the meeting took place (or why it was bizarre).

The White House later confirmed the meeting. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said McDonough hosted "an informal discussion on national security issues," and that Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken attended.

"This session was part of our ongoing efforts to consult with the Congress on issues important to the president," she said.

In addition to Corker and Menendez, Senators Susan Collins (R.-Maine), Carl Levin (D-Michigan), Jon Tester (D.-Montana) and John Walsh (D.-Montana) also attended the meeting, according to the sources, who requested anonymity.

Aides to most of those senators declined to discuss the meeting on the record. The lone exception was Tester. His communications director, Marnee Banks, confirmed the meeting and directed Yahoo News to the senator's public schedule, which lists the meeting.

The White House had not announced the gathering before it happened.

The secret meeting came at a time of increasing bipartisan frustration with the White House over the 2001 law that authorized the war in Afghanistan and underpins policies like indefinite detention without charge and drone strikes.

In a speech almost exactly one year ago, President Obama declared that it was time to overhaul the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), and “determine how we can continue to fight terrorism without keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing.”

“I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate. And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further,” Obama said at the time. “Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands.”

But one year later, the administration has yet to provide Congress with suggested specific changes to the law, much less with legislative language for rewriting it.

Senators including Corker let their frustration bubble over at Wednesday’s hearing.

“Has the administration proposed any refinement or any redefinition of the AUMF? I mean, have they provided us language in terms of what they think they need to handle the current situation?” Senator Ron Johnson (R.-Wisconsin) asked the State Department’s principal deputy legal adviser, Mary McLeod.

“No, senator, we have not, “ she replied.
“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote that he is not making a present or a compliment to please an individual – or at least that he ought not so to do; but rather he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” Samuel Adams, April 16, 1781.

Offline mystery-ak

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Sen. Corker: White House Meeting About Obama’s Foreign Policy ‘One Of The Most Bizarre I’ve Attended’
May 23, 2014 7:22 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House officials have been holding private meetings this week aimed at soothing lawmakers’ concerns over the U.S. posture in Syria, the future of the American military presence in Afghanistan and defense spending. The meetings come as a frustrated White House seeks to push back at criticism of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

But the White House outreach appeared to be having little effect on some lawmakers’ concerns.

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, described Tuesday night’s White House meeting with chief of staff Denis McDonough and national security adviser Susan Rice as “one of the most bizarre I’ve attended.”

Another senator who attended the meeting said Obama’s advisers refused to provide lawmakers with answers about whether the president plans to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the war formally concludes later this year or about the Pentagon’s efforts to find nearly 300 kidnapped Nigerian school girls.

Unsatisfied, some of the lawmakers started to leave one by one before the meeting had finished. The senator and three congressional aides briefed on the meeting insisted on anonymity to discuss the private talks.

The meetings, which have been taking place both at the White House and on Capitol Hill, come as Obama prepares for a speech Wednesday at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he is expected to try to answer critics who say he has surrendered America’s global leadership and faltered on problems in the Middle East, Russia, China and beyond.

McDonough and Rice met at the White House on Monday night with about a dozen House Democrats. On Tuesday, officials invited 14 senators — three of them were Republicans — to the White House for a discussion on foreign policy over wine, beer, and a cheese and cracker platter on the patio outside of McDonough’s office.

The chief of staff was also on Capitol Hill on Tuesday for a foreign policy-focused meeting with the full House. He met with the full Senate on Thursday, though national security took a backseat in that discussion to economic issues.

Among the Democrats who attended the Tuesday meeting were New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Michigan Sen. Carl Levin; and Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed. The three Republicans who attended were Corker, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Maine Sen. Susan Collins.

A White House official said six Republicans were invited to the meeting, but half did not attend.

The president did not drop by the White House meeting, surprising the senators. White House officials cast the meetings as part of their effort to step up engagement with lawmakers who long have complained about feeling out of the loop regarding the president’s decision-making.

In another sign of the White House’s uphill climb to sway lawmakers, the House voted overwhelmingly Thursday in favor of a $601 billion defense authorization bill that Obama has threatened to veto. McDonough had used his discussions with Democrats to try to persuade them to reject the measure, which authorizes spending on weapons and personnel for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. It also limits Obama’s handling of terror suspects at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, barring him from transferring detainees to maximum-security prisons in the United States.

Midway through his sixth year in office, Obama has been showing signs of frustration with the way his foreign policy has been viewed by critics on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. During a news conference in the Philippines last month, he pushed back at those who said his cautious response to the Syrian civil war and Russia’s threatening moves in Ukraine has weakened the U.S.

“You hit singles, you hit doubles. Every once in a while we may be able to hit a home run,” Obama said. “But we steadily advance the interests of the American people and our partnership with folks around the world.”

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