White House

Middle East
8:53 am
Sat July 26, 2014

U.S. Embassy Compound In Libya Shut Down Amid Fighting

In a photo taken on Thursday, smoke rises from a residential area in Tripoli, Libya. Deadly clashes erupted between Islamist fighters and pro-secular militias earlier this month.
Hamza Turkia Xinhua/Landov

Originally published on Sat July 26, 2014 9:06 am

Updated at 9:05 a.m. ET.

The U.S. has temporarily closed its embassy in Libya and evacuated diplomats amid what is being described as a significant deterioration in security, with rival militant factions battling in the capital, Tripoli.

"Due to the ongoing violence resulting from clashes between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, we have temporarily relocated all of our personnel out of Libya," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said.

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Seeking a Truce
8:40 am
Fri July 25, 2014

Kerry: Gaza Truce Still In Play

A Palestinian man cries after bringing a child, wounded in a strike on a compound housing a U.N. school, to the emergency room of the Kamal Adwan hospital in the Gaza Strip on Thursday.
Lefteris Pitarakis AP

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 5:33 pm

Updated at 5:20 p.m. ET.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called reports that Israel's government had rejected a U.S. truce in Gaza "a mischievous leak" and said he's confident a deal can be reached.

Referring to earlier reports by Israeli TV that a seven-day cease-fire had been unanimously rejected, Kerry, speaking at a news conference in Cairo, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had assured him that the report is "an error and inaccurate.

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Middle East
8:49 am
Wed July 23, 2014

White House Adviser: Cease-Fire Should Include Demilitarization Of Gaza

Palestinians walk through the rubble of houses in Gaza City minutes after they were hit in an Israeli strike on Wednesday.
Khalil Hamra AP

Originally published on Wed July 23, 2014 1:06 pm

A top White House adviser says any cease-fire agreement between Israel and Palestinians must include the demilitarization of Gaza.

In an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep, Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said "that needs to be the end result."

"There has to be some way forward that does not involve Hamas having the ability to continue to rain down rockets on Israeli civilians," Blinken said.

Asked if this means the U.S. has endorsed Israel's demand that Hamas give up its weapons, Blinken said:

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Flight MH17
10:54 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Obama Urges Putin to Push for Unhindered Probe of Plane Crash Site in Ukraine

President Barack Obama talks on the phone aboard Air Force One with President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine about the Malaysia Airlines plane crash in eastern Ukraine on July 17.
Credit Pete Souza / White House

President Barack Obama spoke about the downed plane in eastern Ukraine from the White House Monday morning. He called for international investigators to have "immediate and full access" to the site where a passenger jet was shot down last week.

U.S. officials have been seeking to build a case that the plane was shot down by pro-Russian separatists.

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Middle East
8:04 am
Mon July 21, 2014

In Effort To Forge Cease-Fire Between Israel And Hamas, Kerry Heads To Egypt

A Palestinian overcome by emotion watches rescuers carry a body from the rubble of a house which was destroyed by an Israeli missile strike, in Gaza City, on Monday.
Khalil Hamra AP

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 8:26 pm

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is headed to Egypt today in an effort to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

In a statement, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Kerry would meet with Egyptian and other senior officials.

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Gaza
10:00 am
Sun July 20, 2014

At Least 13 Israeli Soldiers, 87 Palestinians Killed In Gaza Strip Sunday

A Palestinian man runs with a white flag in the Shejaia neighborhood, which was heavily shelled by Israel during fighting in Gaza City on Sunday.
Finbarr O'Reilly Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sun July 20, 2014 10:36 pm

Updated at 10:30 p.m. ET.

A spokesman for Hamas claimed Sunday that the group has captured an Israeli soldier. Reuters quotes Israel's ambassador to the U.N., Ron Prosor, as saying that no Israeli soldier has been kidnapped.

It's the latest development in a bloody day of fighting between Israel and Hamas. Israel's military said today that a series of attacks on its forces inside the Gaza Strip has killed 13 soldiers, by far the heaviest single-day toll for its troops since the beginning of the offensive nearly two weeks ago.

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Flight MH17
7:40 am
Sun July 20, 2014

Kerry: Evidence Points Clearly To Rebels Shooting Down MH17

Members of the Ukrainian Emergencies Ministry work at a crash site of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, near the village of Hrabove, Donetsk, on Sunday.
Maxim Zmeyev Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Sun July 20, 2014 4:29 pm

Updated at 4:25 p.m. ET.

In the most emphatic U.S. statement to date on culpability for the downing of a Malaysian airliner over Eastern Ukraine that killed 298 people, Secretary of State John Kerry says evidence overwhelmingly points to Russian-backed separatists.

In an interview with CNN, he says that U.S. intelligence, as well as social media put out by the rebels, "obviously points a very clear finger at the separatists.

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White House
11:36 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Obama Calls for a Ceasefire in Ukraine

President Barack Obama speaking to the press last year.
White House

President Barack Obama said one American was killed on a downed plane in Ukraine on Thursday, and that the airliner was shot down by a surface-to-air missile in an area controlled by Russian-backed separatists. He called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine, where he said heavily armed and trained separatists receive Russian support.

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White House
5:46 pm
Wed July 16, 2014

U.S. Sanctions Major Russian Banks And Energy Companies

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk visits forces stationed near the small city of Izyum on Wednesday.
Sergey Bobok AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 8:18 am

President Obama outlined a new package of sanctions against Russian firms and individuals on Wednesday.

"These sanctions are significant but also targeted," Obama said. "Russia will see that its actions in Ukraine have consequences."

The administration targeted large banks, as well as energy and defense firms. The sanctions stopped short of covering entire sectors of the Russian economy.

Obama said they were designed to inflict pain on Russia without harming U.S. companies or the nation's allies.

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Afghanistan
11:35 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Kerry Pushes For Audit Of Disputed Afghan Presidential Poll

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks with Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah at the start of a meeting at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul on Friday. Kerry sought Friday to broker a deal between Afghanistan's rival presidential candidates.
Jim Bourg AP

Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 3:16 pm

This post updated at 3:15 p.m. ET.

Calling it a "critical moment" in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing for a partial recount in the country's presidential elections amid alleged vote fraud.

"We are in a very, very critical moment for Afghanistan," Kerry told reporters. "Legitimacy hangs in the balance. The future potential of the transition hangs in the balance. So we've a lot of work to do."

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New Haven
10:13 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Central American Migrant Children Arrive in Connecticut

Anabelia Diaz, 17, at left, and Hazel Menecos Jimenez, 13.
Diane Orson WNPR

A group of Central American migrant children who made the perilous journey through Mexico into the U.S.… are staying now in the New Haven area.  They'’re among the estimated 50,000 unaccompanied youngsters who have inundated the U.S. border since last October.

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Refugee Influx
1:47 pm
Wed July 9, 2014

What's Causing The Latest Immigration Crisis? A Brief Explainer

Demonstrators from opposing sides confront each other while being separated by police officers on July 4, outside a U.S. Border Patrol station in Murrieta, Calif.
Mark J. Terrill AP

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 7:28 pm

It's turning into the largest influx of asylum seekers on U.S. soil since the 1980 Mariel boatlift out of Cuba.

Since October, more than 52,000 children — most from Central America and many of them unaccompanied by adults — have been taken into custody. That's nearly double last year's total and 10 times the number from 2009.

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Immigration
2:27 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

Obama Seeks $3.7B To Handle Immigration Crisis

Detainees sleep in a holding cell at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville, Texas, on June 18. The White House on Tuesday sought $3.7 billion to deal with the immigration crisis at the border.
Eric Gay AP

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 4:12 pm

Update at 3:33 p.m. ET

The White House said it's asking Congress for $3.7 billion to address the humanitarian crisis along the border with Mexico.

The statement said the funds would cover domestic enforcement, repatriation and reintegration of migrants, transportation costs, additional immigration judges, prosecutors and litigation attorneys to "ensure cases are processed fairly and as quickly as possible."

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Immigration
3:05 pm
Tue July 1, 2014

Immigration Reform Fails in Congress While Thousands of Migrants Flood The Border

Congressman Jim Himes.
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

A surge in migrants to the U.S. southwest border has prompted President Obama to ask Congress for $2 billion in emergency funding to combat the problem. His request comes one year after a Senate immigration reform bill was passed, and then stalled, in the U.S. House. 

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Vanishing Bees
12:37 pm
Fri June 27, 2014

White House Task Force To Save Bees Stirs Hornet's Nest

A bumble bee gathers pollen in September 2007 on a sunflower at Quail Run Farm in Grants Pass, Ore., where farmer Tony Davis depends on them to pollinate crops. Bees are being wiped out by a mysterious condition known as colony collapse disorder.
Jeff Barnard AP

Originally published on Fri June 27, 2014 12:17 pm

When President Obama announced last week that he was creating a federal task force to investigate the nation's vanishing bee colonies, the moment provided newly minted Press Secretary Josh Earnest an opportunity to crack one of his first jokes on the job.

"When I walked out here today, I knew I was going to be handling a range of sensitive issues," he told reporters. "I didn't know I was going to be talking about the birds and the bees."

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White House
5:08 pm
Thu June 26, 2014

Obama Asks For $500 Million To Train, Equip Syrian Rebels

Rebel fighters drink tea on the front line of Ramouseh, near the Aleppo Artillery School. President Obama has requested $500 million to arm and train "moderate" Syrian rebel groups.
Hosam Katan Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu June 26, 2014 5:21 pm

President Obama has asked Congress for $500 million to train and equip moderate Syrian rebels who are seeking the ouster of Bashar Assad.

If Congress approves the plan, it would supplement a covert training and assistance program already being run by U.S. intelligence agencies, The Associated Press says.

The White House says in a statement that the rebels would be vetted before providing assistance, to ensure that U.S. equipment doesn't fall into the wrong hands.

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Iraq
3:59 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

Under Attack By ISIS, Iraq Agrees To Give U.S. Troops Immunity

Iraqi Kurdish forces take position near Taza Khormato as they fight jihadist militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) positioned five kilometers away in Bashir on Monday.
Karim Sahib AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 3:44 pm

Remember last week when President Obama said he planned to send up to 300 military advisers to Iraq?

Well, the U.S. couldn't do it until the Iraqi government gave U.S. soldiers immunity from prosecution, through what's called a "diplomatic note." If those U.S. soldiers committed any crimes or had any legal troubles while advising Iraqis, the U.S. wanted to handle any prosecutions.

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Drone Use
12:56 pm
Mon June 23, 2014

U.S. Court Releases Obama Administration's 'Drone Memo'

In this image taken from video and released by SITE Intelligence Group, Anwar al-Awlaki speaks in a video message posted on radical websites in November, 2010.
SITE Intelligence Group AP

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 5:49 pm

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has released a long-secret memo in which the Obama administration lays out its legal reasoning for launching a drone attack on an American citizen overseas.

The legal justification concerns the drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who the United States claims was tied to plots against the U.S. and played a key role in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.

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Iraq
8:42 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Kerry Meets With Iraqi Prime Minister In Baghdad Amid ISIS Crisis

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (right) sits with Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday. Kerry was in Baghdad to push for Iraqi unity and stability, as Sunni militants swept through western towns abandoned by security forces.
Brendan Smialowski AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Mon June 23, 2014 11:48 am

As Sunni militants make gains against Iraq's Shiite-led central government, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry paid a previously unannounced visit to Baghdad to meet with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on Monday.

Maliki has been criticized for not being more inclusive of Sunnis and Kurds in his government — a change the Obama administration is calling for as part of any plans for military support.

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Middle East
2:23 pm
Thu June 19, 2014

Obama: U.S. to Send 300 "Military Advisers" to Iraq

President Barack Obama answers questions from reporters at the White House.
Credit Screenshot / White House

President Barack Obama said the U.S. is prepared to take targeted military actions in Iraq if they would help fight a growing threat from extremist militants. He also said the U.S. is ready to send as many as 300 military advisers to Iraq.

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Iraq
7:42 pm
Tue June 17, 2014

What, Exactly, Are U.S. Interests In Iraq's Turmoil?

Iraqi Shiite tribesmen show their enthusiasm Tuesday for joining Iraqi security forces in the fight against Islamist militants who have taken over several northern Iraqi cities.
Haidar Hamdani AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Tue June 17, 2014 8:33 pm

As the U.S. steers warships closer to Iraq and beefs up its embassy's security in Baghdad with nearly 300 troops, a nagging question has resurfaced.

What compelling interests does Washington still have in a nation where all U.S. forces were pulled out 2 1/2 years ago?

Three days after Sunni militants calling themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria seized Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, President Obama paused on the White House lawn and issued a warning.

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Libya
11:37 am
Tue June 17, 2014

U.S. Captures Suspected Ringleader Of Attack In Benghazi

Sept. 11: The U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was aflame after coming under attack.
AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 18, 2014 11:11 am

The United States has captured a militant suspected of leading the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.

Ahmed Abu Khattala was captured by American troops in coordination with law enforcement. Kirby said Khattala was captured Sunday and that all U.S. personnel involved in the operation are safe.

Khattala, said Kirby, is now "in a secure location outside of Libya."

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Middle East
12:50 pm
Fri June 13, 2014

Obama Rules Out Troops In Iraq But Says U.S. Is Weighing Other Options

President Obama ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq, saying any U.S. action must be accompanied by Iraqi political action.
Kevin Lamarque Reuters /Landov

Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 2:28 pm

Updated at 12:46 p.m. ET

President Obama has ruled out the use of ground troops in Iraq, saying any action will be "targeted and precise" but must be accompanied by political action by Iraqis to end sectarian divisions.

"We will not be sending U.S. troops back into combat in Iraq, but I have asked my national security team to prepare a range of other options that could help support Iraq's security forces," Obama said from the south lawn of the White House.

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School Shootings
6:12 pm
Tue June 10, 2014

Obama: Country Needs To Do Some 'Soul Searching' On Gun Control

President Obama listens to a question read by Tumblr founder and CEO David Karp during a Tumblr forum Tuesday.
Jacquelyn Martin AP

Originally published on Wed June 11, 2014 10:38 am

Just hours after another school shooting left two dead and one injured, President Obama was asked what he's going to do about these kinds of incidents.

"The country has to do some soul searching about this," Obama said. "This is becoming the norm, and we take it for granted in ways that, as a parent, are terrifying to me."

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White House
3:10 pm
Wed June 4, 2014

Obama Invites UConn Basketball Teams to White House

The UConn men and women's basketball teams are heading to the White House on Monday.
UConn Facebook

President Barack Obama is inviting the University of Connecticut's men's and women's champion basketball teams to the White House. 

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Afghanistan
8:26 am
Wed June 4, 2014

Taliban Release Video Of Handoff That Freed Bergdahl

An image taken from a video obtained from the Voice of Jihad website shows Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl (right) with a Taliban fighter just before he was released to U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan.
AP

Originally published on Wed June 4, 2014 12:20 pm

A Black Hawk helicopter swoops in to pick up Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in a valley in Afghanistan, in a video of the handover of the American prisoner of war that was posted online early Wednesday. The Pentagon says it's reviewing the video; a spokesman says there's no reason to question its authenticity.

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Laying the Keel
12:36 pm
Tue June 3, 2014

Michelle Obama Sponsors New Electric Boat Sub

First Lady Michelle Obama signs her initials on a plate that will be mounted on the USS Illinois
Rhode Island Public Radio

First Lady Michelle Obama visited Rhode Island to help lay the keel for a new submarine being built by Groton's Electric Boat.

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Military Readiness
8:43 am
Tue June 3, 2014

Obama Seeks $1 Billion To Boost U.S. Military Presence In Europe

President Obama and Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk at a meeting in Warsaw, Poland, on Tuesday.
Radek Pietruszka EPA /LANDOV

Originally published on Tue June 3, 2014 6:45 pm

President Obama said today [Tuesday] that he wants to boost the U.S. military presence in Europe amid simmering tensions with Russia over its actions in Ukraine.

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Veterans Affairs
11:26 am
Fri May 30, 2014

VA Chief Eric Shinseki Resigns Post, Obama Announces

Eric Shinseki resigned as the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs on Friday, in what President Obama said was a decision spurred by a desire to not distract from efforts to fix the agency's problems. Earlier Friday, Shinseki spoke at a conference in Washington.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Fri May 30, 2014 1:10 pm

Embattled Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has resigned his position, hours after saying he would work to fix "systemic" problems in the VA's health care system.

President Obama said Friday that the decision was made so Shinseki wouldn't be a "distraction" from efforts to address the agency's wide-ranging problems.

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Foreign Policy
5:02 am
Thu May 29, 2014

Transcript And Audio: President Obama's Full NPR Interview

President Obama gives the commencement address at the graduation ceremony at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., on Wednesday.
Spencer Platt Getty Images
  • Listen To The Full Interview

NPR's Steve Inskeep interviewed President Obama on Wednesday about foreign policy, including his approaches to Syria, Ukraine and China, as well as his remaining White House priorities and his effort to close Guantanamo Bay prison. A full transcript of the interview follows:

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