Wednesday, May 16, 2012

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Mitt Romney calls Democratic attacks over Bain ‘really off-target’

(Steve Nesius/Reuters)
 Mitt Romney called Democratic criticism over his record at Bain Capital "misguided" and chided President Barack Obama for approving the attacks while at the same time raising cash from other members of the private equity industry.
In an interview with Hot Air's Ed Morrissey, the presumptive Republican nominee denounced an ad launched this week by the Obama campaign that suggested Romney played a role in the closing of a Missouri steel mill, calling the spot "really off target" and a "distraction."
"They said, 'Oh gosh, Gov. Romney at Bain Capital closed down a steel factory,'" Romney told Morrissey. "Their problem, of course, is that the steel factory closed down two years after I left Bain Capital. I was no longer there, so that's hardly something that should be on my watch."
Romney accused the Obama campaign of ignoring the fact that he created jobs while at Bain and of overlooking jobs lost during Obama's time at the White House, adding that the president is "hardly one to point a finger." The interview marked the first time Romney has commented on the ad, which briefly ran in several swing states earlier this week.
The former Massachusetts governor also implied that Obama was a hypocrite for signing off on the ad, which was released Monday. That same day, the president held a fundraiser at the Manhattan home of Tony James, head of the Blackstone Group, another private equity firm that, Romney noted, he and Bain had "previously made investments with."
"He has no problem going out and doing fundraisers with Bain Capital and private equity people," Romney said of Obama. "The president is just misguided in his effort to try and divide Americans from one another and to try to disparage one part of our economy from the other or one person from another. This is not what America is."
The Obama campaign has defended its Bain ad, insisting even though Romney was not actively engaged on day-to-day business at Bain at the time of the steel company's closing he was still an owner and investor.
"No one is challenging Romney's right to run his business as he saw fit, and no one is questioning the private equity industry as a whole. That's not what this is about," Stephanie Cutter, Obama's deputy campaign manager, told reporters Monday, according to CBS News. "This is about ... the lessons and values Romney drew from his time as a buyout specialist -- what those values are, what they tell us about what type of President Mitt Romney would be, and whether the voters want that in the Oval Office."

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FBI Investigates Media Leaks in Yemen Bomb Plot

FBI director Robert S. Mueller III today disclosed that the FBI is investigating leaks to the news media about the recently disrupted plot by Al Qaeda's Yemen affiliate to smuggle a bomb designed to be concealed in underwear onto a U.S. bound jet.
The plans for the attack, which featured a more sophisticated version of the device the "underwear bomber" of Christmas 2009 was arrested with, were first revealed by the AP. But a day later, it was revealed that the individual at the center of the plot was a double agent working for Britain's MI-6 secret intelligence service and the CIA along with Saudi Arabian intelligence assets.
"We have initiated an investigation into this leak," Mueller testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.  "Leaks such as this threaten ongoing operations, puts at risk the lives of sources, makes it much more difficult to recruit sources, and damages our relationships with our  foreign partners."
"Leaks such as this have a - I don't want overuse the word 'devastating' - but have a huge impact on our ability to do our business, not just on a particular source and the threat to the particular source, but your ability to recruit sources is severely hampered," Mueller said, describing the implications of the leak of sensitive national security information.
Mueller continued, "In cases such as this, your - the  relationship with your  counterparts overseas are damaged and which means that an inhibition in the willingness of others to share  information with us where they don't think that information will remain secure.  So it also has some long-term effects, which is why it is so important to make certain that the persons who are responsible for the leak are brought to justice."
The investigation is likely being run by the Justice Department's counterespionage section and agents from the FBI's Washington Field Office.
Justice Department officials and an FBI spokesman declined to comment on the nature of the investigation. The CIA also declined comment.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence is also conducting a review with the DNI's general counsel to see if the leaks originated in any of the 16 agencies that DNI James Clapper oversees.
Earlier in the day Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, addressed the issue of media leaks relating to the plot and called it "devastating."
"Leaks do endanger people's lives … that is not an exaggeration," Olsen said, speaking before the American Bar Association's standing Committee on Law and National Security, in Washington, D.C.

Menendez on Visa for Dictator's Daughter

Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Menendez Statement on Decision to Issue a Visa for Daughter of Cuban Dictator Raul Castro

Washington – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today issued the following statement regarding a decision to issue a visa to the daughter of Cuban dictator Raul Castro, Mariela Castro Espin:

“I am disappointed by the decision to issue a visa to Mariela Castro Epsin, the daughter of Cuban dictator Raul Castro. Ms. Castro is a vociferous advocate of the regime and opponent of democracy, who has defended the regime’s brutal repression of democracy activists. Neither the United States Government nor the Latin American Studies Association should be in the business of providing a totalitarian regime, like the one in Cuba, with a platform from which to espouse its twisted rhetoric. Moreover, while an American is being held hostage in a Cuban prison I believe that issuance of a visa to Ms. Castro sends the wrong message to the regime and to Cuba’s struggling opposition movement. Lastly, she is a prominent member of Cuba’s Communist party and I don’t believe that the authority exists to provide Ms. Castro with a visa pursuant to Presidential Proclamation 5377, which prohibits providing non-immigrant visas to Cuban nationals that are officers or employees of the Government or the Communist Party of Cuba.”