Tag Archives: White House

Richard Branson: I asked for weed at White House

Richard Branson: I asked for weed at White House

By PATRICK GAVIN |

When you go to a White House state dinner and you’re lucky enough to get some face time with the president, what do you ask the president?

“I asked him if I could have a spliff,” businessman and Virgin Group honcho Richard Branson told a crowd gathered at The Atlantic’s Washington offices Thursday, the day after attending the dinner for British Prime Minister David Cameron.
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Branson: I asked for weed at W.H.

“But they didn’t have any,” Branson continued, according to a video of the event as he recalled his effort to procure weed the night before at the White House.

(Also on POLITICO: Obama’s campaign is watching you)

What’s he smoking? Well, Branson is a longtime advocate for the legalization of marijuana — and an admitted recreational pot puffer — and spoke at an Atlantic Exchange panel discussion titled “Benchmarching the War on Drugs.” Branson appeared alongside The Atlantic’s Washington Editor-At-Large Steve Clemons and Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.

The Atlantic crowd guffawed mightily, which is appropriate: Branson was quick to note that he was joking.

So passionate is Branson’s work on the issue that one audience member asked him if he’d be a Al Gore of the movement and work on a documentary on the errors of drug policies. (Branson declined, saying his son is a far better documentarian than he could ever be.)

Read more: SOURCE

Secret Service: “Bullet hit White House”

Secret Service says bullet hit White House

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Secret Service says a bullet hit an exterior window of the White House and was stopped by ballistic glass.

An additional round of ammunition was found on the White House exterior. The bullets were found Tuesday morning. A spokesman for the Secret Service, Edwin Donovan, declined to answer additional questions about the incident including the caliber bullets recovered or what room of the White House was behind the window that was hit, citing an ongoing criminal investigation.

The discovery follows reports of gunfire near the White House on Friday. Witnesses heard shots and saw two speeding vehicles in the area. An assault rifle was also recovered.

President Barack Obama, who was headed to a summit in Hawaii, was not at the home at the time of the shooting.

The Secret Service said it has not conclusively connected Friday’s incident with the bullets found at the White House. Previously, authorities had said the White House did not appear to have been targeted Friday night.

U.S. Park Police have an arrest warrant for Oscar Ortega-Hernandez, who is believed to be connected to the earlier incident. He is described as a 21-year-old Hispanic man, 5 feet 11 inches tall, 160 pounds, with a medium build, brown eyes and black hair.

He is believed to be living in the Washington area with ties to Idaho.

After the gunfire was reported, police said they found an abandoned car Friday night near the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge that crosses the Potomac River to Virginia.

U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser has said items found in the vehicle led investigators to Ortega. The suspect hasn’t been linked to any radical organizations but does have an arrest record in three states, Schlosser said Monday.

In 2010, there were a series of pre-dawn shootings at military buildings in the Washington area, including the Pentagon and the National Museum of the Marine Corps. Police charged a Marine Corps reservist with those shootings earlier this year. The suspect, Yonathan Melaku of Alexandria, Va., remains in custody.

SOURCE

It’s Official! White House Says We’ve Never Been Visited By Aliens And There Are No UFO Coverups……..Honest

No Alien Visits or UFO Coverups, White House Says

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by Nancy Atkinson

The White House has responded to two petitions asking the US government to formally acknowledge that aliens have visited Earth and to disclose to any intentional withholding of government interactions with extraterrestrial beings. “The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race,” said Phil Larson from the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, on the WhiteHouse.gov website. “In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.”

5,387 people had signed the petition for immediately disclosing the government’s knowledge of and communications with extraterrestrial beings, and 12,078 signed the request for a formal acknowledgement from the White House that extraterrestrials have been engaging the human race.

“Hundreds of military and government agency witnesses have come forward with testimony confirming this extraterrestrial presence,” the second petition states. “Opinion polls now indicate more than 50% of the American people believe there is an extraterrestrial presence and more than 80% believe the government is not telling the truth about this phenomenon. The people have a right to know. The people can handle the truth.”

These petitions come from an Obama Administration initiative called ‘We the People’ which has White House staffers respond and consider taking action on any issue that receives at least 25,000 online signatures. Regarding these two petitions, the White House promised to respond if the petitions got 17,000 or more signatures by Oct. 22.

Larson stressed that the facts show that there is no credible evidence of extraterrestrial presence here on Earth. He pointed out that even though many scientists have come to the conclusion that the odds of life somewhere else in the Universe are fairly high, the chance that any of them are making contact with humans are extremely small, given the distances involved.

But that doesn’t mean we aren’t searching, there is just no evidence yet. Larson mentioned SETI (correctly noting that this at first was a NASA effort, but is now funded privately) keeping an “ear” out for signals from any intelligent extraterrestrials, with none found so far. He also added that the Kepler spacecraft is searching for Earth-like planets in the habitable zones around other stars, and that the Curiosity rover will launch to Mars this month to “assess what the Martian environment was like in the past to see if it could have harbored life.”

Regarding any evidence for alien life, all anyone has now is “statistics and speculation,” said Larson. “The fact is we have no credible evidence of extraterrestrial presence here on Earth.”

Whether or not this will appease or satisfy any conspiracy theorists or UFO believers is yet to be seen, but it is gratifying to see the White House respond in such a no-nonsense manner.

SOURCE

Foregone Conclusion? The Reality of an Obama-Hillary ticket

The allure of an Obama-Hillary ticket

LAURA WASHINGTON [email protected]

Hillary to the rescue? That rumor-theory-speculation-spin-Hail Mary pass has been circulating around the political hustings for the last year.

The Washington mouths are blabbering that Vice President Joe Biden will take a political bullet for his president and step off the 2012 presidential ticket. Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama’s archrival-turned-secretary of state, is tired of the international fly-arounds and serving as red meat for America’s attack dogs.

She could step off the world stage and into the vice presidential nomination. It’s a way, some political soothsayers say, to rekindle that old “black” magic.

Washington Post reporter and author Bob Woodward floated the prospect in an October 2010 interview. CNN Host John King suggested that “a lot of people think if the president’s a little weak going into 2012, he’ll have to do a switch there and run with Hillary Clinton as his running mate.”

“It’s on the table,”
Woodward replied. “President Obama needs some of the women, Latinos, retirees that she did so well with during the [2008] primaries.” He added that it’s “not out of the question.

The idea still has juice. Little wonder. Politically, Obama has been having a very bad year. A recent ABC/Washington Post poll found that four in 10 Americans “strongly” disapprove of how Obama is handling his job. It’s “the highest that number has risen during his time in office and a sign of the hardening opposition to him,” the Post reported last week.

Of course, Obama’s posse has ridiculed the concept. The president is happy with Biden and Clinton in their current roles, they say. The idea of an Obama-Clinton ticket has been greeted with scorn, ridicule, incredulity or glee, depending on who’s talking.

Still, they natter on.

There are plenty of women and feminists of all genders who begrudgingly voted for Obama in 2008 but are still hankering for Hillary Clinton. Sarah Palin punted and Michele Bachmann is imploding, but Democrats have one more chance to make 2012 the Year of the Woman.

I called my go-to guy on presidential matters. Michael Mezey pooh-poohed the idea as warmed-over grist from the D.C. rumor mills. “It’s very hard for a president to do that because it seems to me that what the president [would be] doing is admitting failure,” said Mezey, a DePaul University political science professor and expert on the American presidency. “The storyline will be that the campaign is desperate,” he added. “I just don’t think they’re at a point of desperation.”

I’m not so sure. An Obama-Clinton ticket would be a potent and historic lure. It would pander to female voters, but I suspect they’ll go with it. It would open the door for a Clinton presidential bid in 2016.

And it would bring a tear to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s eye.

SOURCE

E-Verify: National ID and the end of privacy

E-Verify: De Facto national ID and the end of privacy

By John Whitehead

As technology grows more sophisticated and the American government and its corporate allies further refine their methods of keeping tabs on citizens, those of us who treasure privacy increasingly find ourselves engaged in a struggle to maintain our freedoms in the midst of the modern surveillance state.

The latest attack on our right to anonymity and privacy comes stealthily packaged in the form of so-called job protection legislation. Introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) in June 2011, H.R. 2885 (formerly H.R. 2164), the “Legal Workforce Act,” is being marketed as a way to fight illegal immigration and “open up millions of jobs for unemployed Americans and legal immigrants.” However, this proposed federal law is really little more than a Trojan horse, a backdoor attempt by the powers-that-be to inflict a de facto National ID card on the American people.

Created under the auspices of securing the borders and preventing illegal immigrants from being hired for “American” jobs, E-Verify challenges the rights of the individual, the rights of labor and the rights of industry. As such, this is not a left or right issue. Anyone who values civil liberties should be alarmed. In fact, E-Verify is being opposed by various civil liberties groups such as the ACLU, American Library Association, The Rutherford Institute, Liberty Coalition and others.

If approved by Congress, this legislation would make the federal government the final authority on who gets hired by American businesses and in the process create a bureaucratic nightmare for already over-burdened and over-regulated small business owners. In a nutshell, H.R. 2885 requires all employers to submit potential employees’ names, Social Security numbers and other data to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for authorization before the employees can start work. The data would then be run through E-Verify services, a government-run database and employment identification verification system.

*
In other words, the E-Verify system would require all those wanting to be employed by American companies to register the credentials of their citizenship in a government database. If you were to look at the procedure of verification, you’d know that it functions quite similar to the methods employed by companies like Fully-Verified.

What this means, of course, is that in order to be able to verify an applicant’s legitimacy, the government would first have to build a massive database to store the biographical information of the entire working population in the United States—a huge undertaking with numerous pitfalls and security flaws, as we have seen with many other government databases. But, like thecheckpeople.co.uk adumbrates, the advantages of this would be palpable in the future.

If you think unemployment is a problem now, just wait until your employment hinges on getting government clearance. Under this legislation, if a worker’s information is incorrect in E-Verify, he or she can’t work until the problem is resolved.

Furthermore, due to the sensitive information contained in the database, it would be a huge target for hackers and identity thieves, while doing little to curb the flow of illegal immigration or illegal immigrants getting jobs. Indeed, with a stolen or faked identity, anyone could bypass the system, secure employment.

This legislation poses even greater threats to privacy, free speech and free association and potentially hinders Americans’ ability to travel freely. Because the E-Verify system would apply to everyone eligible to work in the United States and will grow to include biometrics such as fingerprints, DNA and iris scans, it will be used for a host of other purposes by the intelligence community, law enforcement and corporate America.

Private employers will become extensions of the government in that they will eventually be required to verify whether employees are delinquent in the payment of federal, state or local taxes, in compliance with child support or alimony decrees, on a terrorist watch list or convicted or even accused of a crime. Employers, thus, would be enlisted as de facto law enforcement officers for the federal government. Furthermore, errors in the verification process would be practically immune from timely legal redress in violation of constitutional tenets of due process.

Rest assured that were Congress to approve this E-Verify legislation, it would open the door to a National ID. Thus, we have reached a crossroads. Either we limit the reach and power of the government (often in collusion with corporate power) or privacy as we have known it will become extinct.

SOURCE

Obama’s urgent jobs plan: ‘Right now’ means sometime next month…after vacation… maybe

Obama’s urgent jobs plan: Right now, ‘right now’ means sometime next month maybe

Everybody remembers the urgency of President Obama’s attitude toward the awful jobs situation.

Back in early August, Obama said the jobs situation was so urgent that he was going to give another speech about it — in a month or so, in September after his vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.

And then in September the president announced he would give his major jobs speech to a joint session of Congress on Sept. 7. But he neglected to check with congressional leaders first. And they suggested the 8th. So, since it was their House, the 8th it was.


“Tonight,” the president said in the first 34 of his 4,021 words to a national television audience that night, “we meet at an urgent time for our country. We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that has made things worse.”

The speech got panned as another political campaign one with Obama announcing, in effect, that….
…since the first stimulus spending plan of $787 billion hadn’t really worked, maybe another $447 billion stimulus spending plan would.

This is the kind of thinking that can make sense within Washington. But since “stimulus” has become a laugh line, he didn’t use that word anymore.

And, hey, the debt ceiling had been raised to $16 trillion. (Speaking of which the president speaks on the debt this morning in another speech because he’s a Real Good Talker.) So why not spend a half-trillion more to look like he’s doing something about the terrible jobs situation with 14+ million unemployed?

If Republicans didn’t bite, no one would know Obama’s Plan B was never going to work anyway. And he could try to blame the GOP next year for failing schools and rusting bridges. This also seems to make sense within WasObama prepares to speaks at the white househington these days.

The president was in such a hurry to get this new spending going, everyone remembers, that during that address he said the phrase “right now” seven times. He didn’t actually mean right now that night because the NFL season was opening a few minutes after his remarks.

But Obama did want to show how really urgent he said the situation was, even though it had taken him 961 days as president to say them. And even though from Day #1 of the brief Obama Era polls had shown jobs and the economy were the No. 1 priority among voters but he pursued healthcare and financial reforms first. And even though unemployment had been at or above 9% for 26 of the last 28 months.

So, given the president’s professed urgency, the next day, Sept. 9, everyone asked where was his jobs legislation?

And, well, it seems the urgent jobs bill hadn’t actually been written yet but should be ready in a week or two. When the laughter died, the White House said on second thought the legislation would be ready for a photo op the next Monday.

Well, here we are on the next Monday after that next Monday and we’ve just learned from the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, Dick Durbin, that actually it seems that body won’t really be seriously getting into the legislation for a while yet. The Senate has some other more important business to handle. And then there’s this month’s congressional vacation, which in Washington is called “a recess,” like elementary school.

Here’s the revealing exchange with a persistent host Candy Crowley on CNN’s “State of the Union:”

CROWLEY: When is the bill going to get on the floor?

DURBIN: The bill is on the calendar. Majority leader Reid moved it to the calendar. It is ready and poised. There are a couple other items we may get into this week not on the bill and some related issues that may create jobs. But we’re going to move forward on the president’s bill. There will be a healthy debate. I hope the Republicans will come to…

CROWLEY: After the recess, so next month? Or when will it actually begin to act on?

DURBIN: I think that’s more realistic it would be next month.

So, as of right now, “right now” uttered on Sept. 8 really means sometime at least one month later.

Good thing the president’s own Democratic party controls the Senate. Because, otherwise, there might be some kind of silly, unnecessary delays in deliberating Obama’s urgent jobs bill that he says will surely help the nation’s unemployed millions if only those Republicans don’t connive to slow things down.

SOURCE

Donations First, Safety Last: White House Pressure for a Donor?


White House Pressure for a Donor?

The four-star Air Force general who oversees Air Force Space Command walked into a highly secured room on Capitol Hill a week ago to give a classified briefing to lawmakers and staff, and dropped a surprise. Pressed by members, Gen. William Shelton said the White House tried to pressure him to change his testimony to make it more favorable to a company tied to a large Democratic donor.

The episode —confirmed by The Daily Beast in interviews with administration officials and the chairman of a congressional oversight committee —is the latest in a string of incidents that have given Republicans sudden fodder for questions about whether the Obama administration is politically interfering in routine government matters that affect donors or fundraisers. Already, the FBI and a House committee are investigating a federal loan guarantee to a now failed solar firm called Solyndra that is tied to a large Obama fundraiser.

Now the Pentagon has been raising concerns about a new wireless project by a satellite broadband company in Virginia called LightSquared, whose majority owner is an investment fund run by Democratic donor Philip Falcone.

According to officials familiar with the situation, Shelton’s prepared testimony was leaked in advance to the company. And the White House asked the general to alter the testimony to add two points: that the general supported the White House policy to add more broadband for commercial use; and that the Pentagon would try to resolve the questions around LightSquared with testing in just 90 days. Shelton chafed at the intervention, which seemed to soften the Pentagon’s position and might be viewed as helping the company as it tries to get the project launched, officials said.

“There was an attempt to influence the text of the testimony and to engage LightSquared in the process in order to bias his testimony,”
Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) said in an interview. “The only people who were involved in the process in preparation for the hearing included the Department of Defense, the White House, and the Office Management and Budget.”

Turner is chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee that oversees Shelton’s space command and GPS issues; the panel explored the issues between LightSquared and the Pentagon at a hearing Thursday.

On Thursday, LightSquared CEO,Sanjiv Ahuja told The Daily Beast that his company was not trying to use politics to affect the regulatory process and the firm’s goal was to expand broadband access across America.

“Any suggestion that we have run roughshod over the regulatory process is contradicted by reality: Our plans to begin implementing America’s first privately funded, wholesale, affordable, coast-to-coast wireless broadband service have been delayed for a year and we have been forced to commit more than $100 million to find a solution that will allow consumers to benefit from both our service and GPS,” Ahuja said.

“For a company that allegedly is ‘wired’ inside the Beltway, we’ve been unable to even get the House Armed Services Committee to allow us to have one representative today’s hearing — a hearing in which we are the subject,”
he said.

Shelton finally gave his testimony Thursday, and made clear the Pentagon’s concern about LightSquared’s project.

The general told Turner’s committee that preliminary tests of a new LightSquared proposal to use only a portion of the band that it was licensed originally in 2004 would cause significant disruptions to GPS.

He said the GPS spectrum was supposed to originally be a “quiet neighborhood,” meaning that lower strength signals could exist near the GPS spectrum. Speaking of the LightSquared plan, he said, “If you put a rock band in the middle of that quiet neighborhood, that’s a different circumstance.”

The White House confirmed Wednesday that its Office of Management and Budget suggested changes to the general’s testimony but insisted such reviews are routine and not influenced by politics. And it said Shelton was permitted to give the testimony he wants, without any pressure.

OMB “reviews and clears all agency communications with Congress, including testimony, to ensure consistency in the administration’s policy positions,” said White House spokesman Eric Schultz. “When an agency is asked by a congressional committee to testify, OMB circulates the agency’s proposed [draft] testimony to other affected agencies and appropriate [executive office of the president] staff. If a reviewer has a comment to the proposed testimony, that suggestion is typically conveyed to the agency for their consideration. When divergent views emerge, they are often reconciled through discussions at the appropriate policy levels of OMB and the agencies.” The general’s office declined to comment.

LightSquared has previously acknowledged it met with officials from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as it tried to shepherd the project, which is consistent with President Obama’s goal of trying to expand broadband wireless access nationwide. That office has a mandate to meet with members of private industry.

Melanie Sloan, who runs the nonpartisan ethics groups Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the emerging allegations about possible White House involvement in LightSquared’s matter seemed to mirror earlier allegations in the Solyndra case.

“With this new set of facts, it starts to sound like a pattern of the White House improperly pressuring people at agencies involving decisions that affect companies tied to donors and fundraisers,
” Sloan said. “It’s always a problem when the White House is pressuring anyone’s testimony. I don’t care if you are a four-star [general] or a GS-15 [career employee], you should be giving your true opinion and not an opinion the White House is seeking for political expediency.”

Sloan recalled similar instances during the Bush administration, when officials were accused of trying to meddle with climate scientists’ testimony. “It doesn’t matter what party is in charge, money frequently trumps good policy in Washington,” she said.

Mr. Ahuja gave a little more than $30,000 to both the Democratic and Republican parties in the last two years. Mr. Falcone and his wife have gave more than $60,000 in 2009 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Mr. Falcone has also given a smattering of money to Republicans.

At issue is a conditional Federal Communications Commission waiver granted in January to LightSquared to build cheap terrestrial wireless capacity in a section of the wireless spectrum close to the GPS bandwidth. Harbinger Capital, the hedge fund belonging to Falcone, owns a majority stake in LightSquared.

“There was an attempt to influence the text of the testimony and to engage LightSquared in the process in order to bias his testimony,”
said Rep. Mike Turner.

The FCC license has come under scrutiny because technical experts have warned that LightSquared’s proposal to build tens of thousands of ground stations for a wireless network could drown out the GPS signal. On Tuesday, the FCC issued a public notice stating that LightSquared may not move forward on establishing its wireless service until further testing proves the GPS would not be harmed.

Falcone says the FCC waiver was spurred by the demands of the wireless industry. “LightSquared wanted the waiver because some of its wholesale partners wanted the choice of being able to sell devices with either satellite only, terrestrial-only or combined satellite-terrestrial service,” he told The Daily Beast. “The waiver allows us to meet the specific needs of our customers — but it in no way affected the spectrum issue.”

Falcone added, “The GPS industry decided not to oppose us in the early 2000’s because they thought we’d never be successful. It was only after they realized we were not just a concept, but a viable technology with a viable business model, that they decided to oppose us. Meanwhile, LightSquared invested billions of dollars — that is money that comes from private individuals all over the country — based on the promise the FCC gave us under a Republican administration six years ago. The point is that any suggestion that the waiver created LightSquared out of thin air is both specious and absurd.”

Turner said Shelton told his committee that LightSquared had obtained his earlier prepared testimony. But Jeffrey J. Carlisle, Executive Vice President for Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy for LightSquared said Thursday that the company never received Shelton’s testimony scheduled for August 3.

A U.S. government official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the White House specifically asked Shelton to include a paragraph in his testimony that stated the military would continue to test the proposed bandwidth for ways LightSquared could still use the spectrum space without interfering with GPS. The proposed language for Shelton’s testimony also stated that he hoped the necessary testing for LightSquared would be completed within 90 days.

The White House has said it did not try to influence the licensing process for LightSquared at the FCC. Chairman Julius Genachowski also has said the White House never lobbied him about LightSquared. Republicans are now questioning whether the administration has been rushing approval of the project over the objections of experts ranging from GPS companies like Garmin to the military’s own advisory committee on satellites.

The FCC’s fast-tracking of LightSquared raises questions about whether the government is rushing this project at the expense of all kinds of other things, including national security and everyone who uses GPS, from agriculture to emergency medical technicians,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). “Without transparency, and with media coverage of political connections in this case, there’s no way to know whether the agency is trying to help friends in need or really looking out for the public’s interest.”

In April, Grassley asked Genachowski to hand over all records of communications, including emails between Falcone and the FCC, and LightSquared and the FCC. Genachowski declined to turn over those records.

The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization, published emails this week it had obtained showing meetings between White House technology advisers and LightSquared officials.

SOURCE

Obama’s Top 10 Insults to Great Britain

BRIT PAPER: Obama’s Top 10 Insults to Great Britain
May 24th, 2011 | Author: Posted by Ben Hart


1. Siding with Argentina over the Falklands

For sheer offensiveness it’s hard to beat the Obama administration’s brazen support for Argentina’s call for UN-brokered negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falklands, despite the fact that 255 British servicemen laid down their lives to restore British rule over the Islands after they were brutally invaded in 1982. In a March 2010 press conference in Buenos Aires with President Cristina Kirchner, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave Argentina a huge propaganda coup by emphatically backing the position of the Péronist regime.

In June last year, Mrs. Clinton slapped Britain in face again by signing on to an Organisation of American States (OAS) resolution calling for negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, a position which is completely unacceptable to Great Britain. To add insult to injury, the Obama administration has insisted on using the Argentine term “Malvinas” to describe the Islands in yet another sop to Buenos Aires.

2. Calling France America’s strongest ally

In January this year, President Obama held a joint press conference at the White House with his French counterpart, literally gushing with praise for Washington’s new-found Gallic friends, declaring: “We don’t have a stronger friend and stronger ally than Nicolas Sarkozy, and the French people.” As I noted at the time:

Quite what the French have done to merit this kind of high praise from the US president is difficult to fathom, and if the White House means what it says this represents an extraordinary sea change in US foreign policy. Nicolas Sarkozy is a distinctly more pro-American president than any of his predecessors, and has been an important ally over issues such as Iran and the War on Terror. But to suggest that Paris and not London is Washington’s strongest partner is simply ludicrous.

These kinds of presidential statements matter. No US president in modern times has described France as America’s closest ally, and such a remark is not only factually wrong but also insulting to Britain, not least coming just a few years after the French famously knifed Washington in the back over the war in Iraq.

3. Downgrading the Special Relationship

Barack Obama very rarely refers to the Special Relationship, and has hardly even mentioned Britain in a major policy speech, either before or since taking office. The Anglo-American alliance is barely a blip on Obama’s teleprompter screen, and he acts as though it simply does not exist. The Special Relationship has also been largely erased from the official lexicon of the State Department, and is barely used by US officials in London. Despite being America’s only major reliable ally when the chips are down, London is now treated in Washington as though it were the same as any other European power, albeit less charitably than either Paris or Berlin.

4. Supporting a federal Europe and undercutting British sovereignty

The Obama administration’s relentless and wrongheaded support for the creation of a federal Europe, from backing the Treaty of Lisbon to the European Security and Defence Policy, is a slap in the face for the principle of national sovereignty in Europe. British sovereignty is non-negotiable, and Obama’s willingness to undermine it is both insulting to Britain and self-defeating for the United States.

While the Bush Administration was divided over Europe, the Obama team is ardently euro-federalist. Hillary Clinton described the Lisbon Treaty as“a major milestone in our world’s history”, and in an interview with The Irish Times in 2009 stated: “I believe [political integration is] in Europe’s interest and I believe that is in the United States’ interest because we want a strong Europe.” And in May last year, Vice President Joe Biden described Brussels as the “capital of the free world.”

And the US Ambassador to London, Louis Susman, has warned Britain that “all key issues must run through Europe.” According to a report by The Parliament.com, in a private meeting with British MEPs at an event in the European Parliament in January, Susman called for a stronger British commitment to the EU, emphatically warning against British withdrawal:

I want to stress that the UK needs to remain in the EU. The US does not want to see Britain’s role in the EU diminished in any way. The message I want to convey today is that we want to see a stronger EU, but also a stronger British participation within the EU. This is crucial if, together, we are going to meet all the global challenges facing us, including climate change and security.

5. Betraying Britain to appease Moscow over the New START Treaty

In February, The Daily Telegraph broke a major story with damaging implications for the Special Relationship, revealing that Washington “secretly agreed to give the Russians sensitive information on Britain’s nuclear deterrent to persuade them to sign a key treaty.” According toThe Telegraph report:

Information about every Trident missile the US supplies to Britain will be given to Russia as part of an arms control deal signed by President Barack Obama next week. Defence analysts claim the agreement risks undermining Britain’s policy of refusing to confirm the exact size of its nuclear arsenal.

A series of classified messages sent to Washington by US negotiators show how information on Britain’s nuclear capability was crucial to securing Russia’s support for the “New START” deal. Although the treaty was not supposed to have any impact on Britain, the leaked cables show that Russia used the talks to demand more information about the UK’s Trident missiles, which are manufactured and maintained in the US.

Washington lobbied London in 2009 for permission to supply Moscow with detailed data about the performance of UK missiles. The UK refused, but the US agreed to hand over the serial numbers of Trident missiles it transfers to Britain.

6. Placing a “boot on the throat” of BP

The Obama administration’s relentless campaign against Britain’s largest company in the wake of Gulf oil spill was one of the most damaging episodes in US-UK relations in recent years, with 64 percent of Britons agreeing that the president’s handling of the issue had harmed the partnership between the two countries according to a YouGov poll. The White House’s aggressive trashing of BP, including a threat to put a “boot on the throat” of the oil giant, helped wipe out about half its share value, directly impacting the pensions of 18 million Britons. This led to a furious backlash in the British press, with even London mayor and long-time Obama admirer Boris Johnson demanding an end to “anti-British rhetoric, buck-passing and name-calling”.

7. Throwing Churchill out of the Oval Office

It is hard to think of a more derogatory message to send to the British people within days of taking office than to fling a bust of Winston Churchill out of the Oval Office and send it packing back to the British Embassy – not least as it was a loaned gift from Britain to the United States as a powerful display of solidarity in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Obviously, public diplomacy is not a concept that carries much weight in the current White House, and nor apparently is common sense.

8. DVDs for the Prime Minister

Readers of this blog will know I’m no fan of Gordon Brown, but whatever one thinks of his third-rate premiership, Brown traveled abroad not as a private individual but as the leader of America’s closest ally. He represented 61 million Britons including the Armed Forces, as well as a huge amount of British trade and investment with the United States. He was however treated shabbily when he visited the White House in March 2009, and denied a Rose Garden press conference as well as a dinner. To cap it all, the decision to send him home with an assortment of 25 DVDs ranging from Toy Story to The Wizard of Oz – which couldn’t even be played in the UK – was a breathtaking display of diplomatic ineptitude that would have shamed the protocol office of an impoverished Third World country.

9. Insulting words from the State Department

The mocking views of a senior State Department official following Gordon Brown’s embarrassing reception at the White House in March last year says it all:

There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.

One would have thought that this kind of monumentally shallow insult would have resulted in at least a formal apology and a reprimand for the official involved, but unfortunately Obama administration apologies are strictly reserved for the French and assorted enemies of the United States.

10. Undermining British influence in NATO

Despite Nicolas Sarkozy’s distinctly unflattering opinion of Barack Obama, the US president has gone to great lengths to appease French interests, even going as far as apologising to the French people in Strasbourg for hurting their feelings over the war in Iraq. The Obama administration has also done its best to give Paris a lead role in the NATO alliance at Britain’s expense, granting it one of two supreme NATO command positions – Allied Command Transformation (ACT). This, despite the fact that France has for decades been ambivalent and obstructionist over NATO, and is failing to carry its weight in Afghanistan.

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