In our final 2014 News & Comment podcast, we list critical questions that weren’t asked at Obama’s last press conference…..The President’s final news conference of the year, on Friday December 19, was most notable for what was not covered. In an agitated fit, your humble host compiled a list of important questions that corporate media reporters never bring up to Obama. My notes are listed below.
Mr. President, you launched an air war in Iraq and Syria in September; Congress has agreed to fund the war, but has not lived up to its constitutional obligations regarding war powers. Sen. Paul is introducing a one year limited declaration of war….do you want Congress to be involved in war powers, and do you believe you presently have the authority to continue these military operations? Congress has ponied up about $1 billion for moderates who will fight IS, love US, not lose weapons. Have you found any fighters that fit our terms? Hows the bombing working out? How do we manage the airspace over Syria with other fighter jets from Syria, Iran, and some of our allies joining the fray?
Russia and Ukraine, new sanctions passed “unanimously” by 3 House GOP members, and you signed them into law…what are your reservations?
Congress just imposed new sanctions on Venezuela, prompting critical comments by its Natl Assembly president, who noted a few recent protests in the US…do we have a basis to criticize Venezuela for its handling of protests?
Secretary of State John Kerry says you will use our UN veto to block Jordan’s proposal for Palestinian statehood….why?
Mexico has seen many protests over abductions, the violent drug war, and corruption—does the US play a part in Mexico’s turmoil?
The emissions reduction deal you made with China impacts the US right away, but gives China 15 years…is that fair? Are you encouraged by the framework adopted in Lima? Beijing blames Washington for supporting the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong….did we have a covert role?
Cuba, many angles: was Alan Gross a spy? Were you embarrassed by USAID’s amateur operations, like the fake Twitter system and the Serbian rap star provocateur? Does this further isolate Russia? How do you respond to critics in Miami that you did not get enough in the deal with Cuba? Are you working on any other deals with Pope Francis?
You just held troop departure ceremonies in Afghanistan, while keeping more troops than you said, and with more of a combat mission than you had suggested. And hardly a peep of criticism was heard. Do you think that no Americans care about the war in Afghanistan?
On race; followup: angry people want more than a “conversation”. When will you commute the crack offenders? What does he think about Bill Cosby?
Sen. Warren’s opposition to Antonio Weiss, and Citi’s insertion of derivatives dereg in Cromnibus…do you ever think “we’ve got enough Citibank people in this administration already?
Why have you enabled de facto amnesty for criminal bankers, while giving no relief to Don Siegelman?
Many angles on CIA torture report. Why are Brennan, Bikowsky and others still there? Have you read the Panetta report, and do you support its release? NBC and The New Yorker have just described Alfreda Bikowsy as the “Queen of Torture” but they are not permitted to name her….did you approve this? Are you obstructing justice by preventing prosecution of people who committed unlawful acts, and the officials who approved those unlawful acts? Will you pardon those people? The review of CIA emails shows it paid $200 million or more in bribes to officials of other governments to facilitate our black site prisons….isn’t that a separate area of lawbreaking? Are you surprised that 59% of Americans approve of the reported torture, and most of those believe that torture produced valuable intelligence, when the Senate report explicitly says the opposite?
After months of delay by Secretary Hagel, 6 Guantanamo prisoners were released to Uruguay, assured by US they are not terrorists…what about the other 60+ who have been cleared for release. Force feeding of hunger strikers continues, are you blocking release of the videos? Will Ashton Carter be as slow to release prisoners as Hagel has been? Will you keep your promise to close Gitmo? Will you release the last Briton, Shaker Aamer?
Have you talked with AG Holder about his pursuit of NYT reporter James Risen, and does this policy have your personal approval?
Drones: are all drone flights now managed by the Pentagon, as you said in May 2013? A new report by Reprieve says that 1,147 innocent people were killed by drones in attacks that killed 43 so-called militants? Current reports show attack drones are operating in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan…what’s the legal basis for these military operations?
Immigration, ICE detention facilities, how are the kids? GOP dings you over lax immigration enforcement—ignoring the millions you have deported…as it threatens to cut funding for ICE….does this make any sense?
Based on new report, do you trust the secret service to protect you and your family? Will more agents and a taller fence fix the problems?
VA Have backlogs for medical treatment at the VA declined, and what problems remain to be fixed?
Why are the negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership conducted in secret, and why won’t you release a draft of the agreement?
Just before the midterm election, we saw a wave of media-generated hysteria about the risk of Ebola in the US, now that there is a lull in the storm, here, what should we do? Can we be sure that a nurse like (from Maine) who returns from an ebola country in Africa won’t get bullied into quarrantine by crazy governors?
When you talk about executive action, why don’t you reschedule marijuana from schedule 1 under the Drug Enforcement Act, which would permit research into medical benefits of cannabis, and ease many of the conflicts between federal law and legalization states like Washington and Colorado. Do you approve of the clause of the Cromnibus that infantilizes the voters of Washington, DC who just ratified legalization?
In many cities, including Washington, local cops have the high-tech Stingray system, which sweeps up all cellphone data of every phone in range—isn’t this a clear violation of the 4th amendment rights of large numbers of innocent people? Do you see a risk that, here in the capital for example, Stingray could be abused in ways that compromise elected leaders and government officials?
Some GOP wanted to uninvite you from the State of the Union, but Boehner has invited you—will you accept?
Mr. President, you “evolved” into full support for gays and lesbians on marriage rights. What is your position on the rights of transgender persons, and in particular Chelsea Manning, who has yet to receive promised support from the military for appropriate treatment?
The do-nothing Congress did absolutely nothing to rein in dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans, which is what you wanted after the Snowden disclosures….right?
Benghazi—House Intel cleared ObamaCo right before Thanksgiving, but most people don’t know it….has the media been a little unfair to you on Benghazi?
The contraceptive coverage in Obamacare prompted a backlash from Catholic bishops and the Hobby Lobby religious right. We see access to abortion and contraception declining sharply across the nation….are you going to do anything to fight back for women’s health rights?
Your administrative actions seem to have cooled interest in foreign tax inversions. Have you fixed that problem, and will you crack down on tax cheats like Apple?
With the new GOP majorities, can you get anything done….can you get new AG and SecDef confirmed?
Did you undermine Pelosi in the Cromnibus deal, as she fought 2 of the worst amendments that were jammed on, the Dodd-Frank loophole and campaign contribution limits?
Cuomo just banned fracking in NY state, while you approved more fracking on public lands and the giveaway of Apache lands to a foreign company so it can open a copper mine. Aren’t the Apaches a sovereign nation, and why are we swapping national resources with a foreign corporation?
You claimed to run the most transparent administration, but your passion for secrecy and crackdowns on journalists and whistleblowers make that a big lie. This list of questions that never get asked by a compliant corporate media shows their complicity. How stupid do you think we are?