On My Mind
Dick Clark, America’s Party Chaperone, Dies at Age 82
Obama: 'Angry' if Secret Service allegations are true
By David Jackson and Richard Wolf, USA TODAY
Obama: 'Angry' if Secret Service allegations are true
President Obama said Sunday that if Secret Service agents solicited prostitutes in Colombia, "Then of course I'll be angry."
The president's first comments on the incident came as the Secret Service began an investigation and two Republican members of Congress indicated they would lead their own probes.
Obama was asked at a news conference with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos about allegations that 11 Secret Service agents were involved with prostitutes before this weekend's Summit of the Americas. Obama noted that its director was investigating.
"I expect that investigation to be thorough, and I expect it to be rigorous," Obama said. If the reports prove true, "Then of course I'll be angry."
"We're representing the people of the United States, and when we travel to another country, I expect us to observe the highest standards, because we're not just representing ourselves, we're here on behalf of our people."
The event overshadowed Obama's participation in the summit, during which other leaders urged the U.S. to alter its monetary policy, legalize drugs and admit Cuba to future summits.
The alleged incident happened two days before the president landed Friday for the summit. Administration officials stressed that Obama's security was unaffected. No members of the president's immediate protective detail were involved.
Five military personnel who were assisting the Secret Service in Colombia are also under investigation.
Paul Morrissey, an assistant director with the Secret Service, said the 11 agents were sent home, and put on administrative leave pending the investigation.
"The Secret Service demands more from its employees," Morrissey said. "This incident is not reflective of the behavior of our personnel as they travel every day throughout the country and the world performing their duties in a dedicated, professional manner."
Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., told CNN the agents are accused of bringing women back to their five-star hotel in Cartagena, which was within the security zone for Obama's visit. Local police were called when one woman refused to leave, claiming she had not be paid, said King, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee, which oversees the Secret Service.
"They cannot put themselves in compromising positions where they're open to be blackmailed or threatened," King said.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said more people may be involved in the scandal. "We think the number might be higher," he said.
Issa, speaking on CBS' Face The Nation, said he wonders whether similar incidents may have happened in the past. "Things like this don't happen once if they didn't happen before," he said.
Presidential trips often take unexpected twists that overtake the intended goals.President George W. Bush's farewell visit to Iraq in December 2008 was overshadowed when an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at Bush.
"The shoe-throwing incident dominated a lot of the message on that trip," recalled Tony Fratto, Bush's deputy press secretary at the time. "In fact, I'm sure it's the only thing anybody remembers."
Obama: 'Angry' if Secret Service allegations are true
`60 Minutes' interrogator Mike Wallace dies
(04-09) 01:25 PDT New York (AP) --
Within five months of each other, two of the men who helped make "60 Minutes" the most distinctive news show on television have died.
First it was Andy Rooney, the cantankerous commentator who died last November, a month after delivering the last of his show-closing essays. Late Saturday night, it was Mike Wallace, the hard-charging interviewer who frequently led "60 Minutes" and gave it journalistic heft with a showman's flair.
Rooney made it to age 92. Wallace beat him by a year, although he spent the latter stage of his life in the New Canaan, Conn., care facility where he died.
"More than anyone else he was responsible for the continuing success of `60 Minutes,'"veteran correspondent Morley Safer, a longtime colleague and frequent competitor of Wallace's in chasing after big stories, said on Sunday's show. "We are all in his debt."
"60 Minutes" plans an extended tribute to Wallace next Sunday.
Wallace had such a fearsome reputation as an interviewer that "Mike Wallace is here to see you" were among the most dreaded words a newsmaker could hear.
Wallace didn't just interview people. He interrogated them. He cross-examined them. Sometimes he eviscerated them pitilessly. His weapons were many: thorough research, a cocked eyebrow, a skeptical "Come on" and a question so direct it took your breath away.
He was well aware that his reputation arrived at an interview before he did, said Jeff Fager, CBS News chairman and Wallace's long-time producer at "60 Minutes."
"He loved it," Fager said Sunday. "He loved that part of Mike Wallace. He loved being Mike Wallace. He loved the fact that if he showed up for an interview, it made people nervous. ... He knew, and he knew that everybody else knew, that he was going to get to the truth. And that's what motivated him."
Wallace made "60 Minutes" compulsively watchable, television's first newsmagazine that became appointment viewing on Sunday nights. His last interview, in January 2008, was with Roger Clemens on his alleged steroid use. Slowed by a triple bypass later that month and the ravages of time on a once-sharp mind, he retired from public life.
During the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, Wallace asked Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini — then a feared figure — what he thought about being called "a lunatic" by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Khomeini answered by predicting Sadat's assassination.
Late in his career, he interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin, and challenged him: "This isn't a real democracy, come on!" Putin's aides tried fruitlessly to halt the interview.
In 1973, with the Watergate scandal growing, he sat with top Nixon aide John Ehrlichman and read a long list of alleged crimes, from money laundering to obstructing justice. "All of this," Wallace noted, "by the law-and-order administration of Richard Nixon."
The surly Ehrlichman could only respond: "Is there a question in there somewhere?"
In the early 1990s, Wallace reduced Barbra Streisand to tears as he scolded her for being "totally self-absorbed" when she was young and mocked her decades of psychoanalysis. "What is it she is trying to find out that takes 20 years?" Wallace wondered.
"He was hands down the best television interviewer ever," said Steve Kroft, his former "60 Minutes" colleague. "I can't think of anyone, besides (CBS legend Edward R.) Murrow, who had a greater influence in shaping television journalism."
"60 Minutes" pioneered the use of "ambush interviews," with reporter and camera crew corralling alleged wrongdoers in parking lots, hallways, wherever a comment — or at least a stricken expression — might be harvested from someone dodging reporters' phone calls. Wallace once went after a medical laboratory offering Medicaid kickbacks to doctors in this fashion.
They were phased out after founding executive producer Don Hewitt termed them "showbiz baloney.""Finally I said, `Hey, kid, maybe it's time to retire that trenchcoat,'" Hewitt recalled.
Wallace's late colleague Harry Reasoner once said, "There is one thing that Mike can do better than anybody else: With an angelic smile, he can ask a question that would get anyone else smashed in the face."
Fager's first contact with Wallace — as a young producer he had to shorten one of Wallace's stories for another broadcast — left him more frightened than anything he had to do professionally to that point. Eventually, Fager became one of Wallace's producers and, as the top producer at "60 Minutes," the one who had to delicately convince a man who never wanted to retire that it was time to hang it up.
"I was scared of him and intimidated by him," he said. "He knew it and he would just make you more miserable. That was Mike. He always had a twinkle in his eye, and even if you were intimidated by him, it was hard not to love him."
ABC's Diane Sawyer, a former "60 Minutes" colleague, said Wallace's energy and nerve set the show's pace. "He bounded through the halls with joy at the prospect of the new, the true, the unexpected," she said.
His prosecutorial style was admired, imitated, condemned and lampooned. In a 1984 skit on "Saturday Night Live," Harry Shearer impersonated Wallace, and Martin Short played weaselly, chain-smoking attorney Nathan Thurm, who becomes comically evasive, shifty-eyed and nervous under questioning.
Wallace was hired when Hewitt put together the staff of "60 Minutes" at its inception in 1968. The show wasn't a hit at first, but worked its way up to the top 10 in the 1977-78 season and remained there year after year. Among other things, it proved there could be big profits in TV journalism. It remains the most popular newsmagazine on TV.
Wallace said he didn't think he had an unfair advantage over his interview subjects: "The person I'm interviewing has not been subpoenaed. He's in charge of himself, and he lives with his subject matter every day. All I'm armed with is research."
Wallace himself became a dramatic character in several projects, from the stage version of "Frost/Nixon," when he was played by Stephen Rowe, to the 1999 film "The Insider," based in part on a 1995 "60 Minutes" story about tobacco industry whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand, who accused Brown & Williamson of intentionally adding nicotine to cigarettes. CBS News initially cut Wigand's interview for fear of being sued.
In all, his television career spanned six decades, much of it at CBS. In 1949, he appeared as Myron Wallace in a show called "Majority Rules." In the early 1950s he was an announcer and game show host. In the mid-1950s he hosted "Night Beat," a series of one-on-one interviews that first won Wallace fame for his tough style.
After holding a variety of other news and entertainment jobs, including serving as advertising pitchman for a cigarette brand, Wallace became a full-time newsman for CBS in 1963.
He said it was the death of his 19-year-old son Peter in an accident in 1962 that made him decide to stick to serious journalism from then on. (Another son, Chris, followed his father and became a broadcast journalist. He anchors "Fox News Sunday" on the Fox network.)
Wallace had a short stint reporting from Vietnam and took a sock in the jaw while covering the tumultuous 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago. But he didn't fit the stereotype of the Eastern liberal journalist. He was a close friend of the Reagans and was once offered the job of Richard Nixon's press secretary. He called his politics moderate.
The most publicized lawsuit against him was by retired Gen. William C. Westmoreland, who sought $120 million for a 1982 "CBS Reports" documentary, "The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception," that accused Westmoreland and others of deliberately underestimating enemy troop strength during the Vietnam War.
Westmoreland dropped the libel suit in 1985 after a long trial. Lawyers for each side later said legal costs of the suit totaled $12 million, of which $9 million was paid by CBS. Wallace said the case plunged him into a depression that put him in the hospital for a week.
In 1996, he appeared before the Senate's Special Committee on Aging to urge more federal funds for depression research, saying that he had felt "lower, lower, lower than a snake's belly" but had recovered through psychiatry and antidepressants. He later disclosed that he once tried to commit suicide during that dark period.
Wallace was born Myron Wallace on May 9, 1918, in Brookline, Mass. He began his news career in Chicago in the 1940s, first as a radio news writer for the Chicago Sun and then as a reporter for WMAQ. He started at CBS in 1951.
He was married four times. In 1986, he wed Mary Yates Wallace, the widow of his close friend and colleague Ted Yates, who had died in 1967. Besides his wife, Wallace is survived by his son, a stepdaughter, Pauline Dora and stepsons Eames and Angus Yates.
Associated Press Television Writer Frazier Moore, Deepti Hajela, former Associated Press writer Polly Anderson and National Writer Hillel Italie contributed to this report.
Marine veteran Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. killed after clash with police who responded to his medical emergency
Marine veteran Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. killed after clash with police who responded to his medical emergency
Exclusive: White Plains police came to 'help,' but shot 68-year-old with stun gun and beanbag gun
What began as a mission of mercy at a public housing project in White Plains ended with police killing the very man they had been dispatched to help.
Nov. 19, 2011
5:08 a.m.: Kenneth Chamberlain’s medical alert device accidentally goes off, triggering a response from the White Plains
Department of Public Safety.
5:25 a.m.: Police knock on Chamberlain’s door. He says he doesn’t need help and refuses to open it.
6:00 a.m.: Cops snap the lock and attempt to use Tasers on Chamberlain. One officer fires on the 68-year-old. Cops say he had a knife; the family’s attorney says he was unarmed.
7:09 a.m.: Chamberlain dies during surgery at White Plains Hospital.
Chamberlain family files notice of claim saying they plan to sue the Police Department.
Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore tells Chamberlain’s family the case would be presented to a grand jury within a month.
White Plains Mayor Tom Roach releases a statement giving his “condolences” to Chamberlain’s family.
Chamberlain’s son petitions White Plains City Hall to pressure police to release the shooting officer’s name.
Health care law reaches high court
And to hear some tell it: liberty.
All that and more could be at stake today when the Supreme Court begins three days of historic oral arguments on a 2010 health care law that has become a symbol of the nation's deep political divide.
Not since the court confirmed George W. Bush's election in December 2000 — before 9/11, Afghanistan and Iraq,Wall Street's dive and Obama's rise — has one case carried such sweeping implications for nearly every American.
"There's never been anything this big that the federal government has required … to which the states were not given an opt-out," says former Florida attorney generalBill McCollum, a Republican who filed the first lawsuit against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Acton March 23, 2010, the day it became law. "It's the totality of this, the enormity of it."
"You've got just unbelievable repercussions here. The stakes couldn't be any higher," says Tom Daschle, the former Senate Democratic leader who helped lead the previous effort to change the health care system in 1993-94. "For anybody who cares about health care, this is the whole ballgame."Passed by Democrats along strictly partisan lines and still two years short of full implementation, the law is designed to extend health coverage to more than 30 million uninsured people, ban insurers from discriminating against those with expensive ailments, and require nearly all Americans to buy insurance or pay penalties.
t turns out that's not all. The overhaul of a health care system that spends more than all other industrialized nations but still has 50 million uninsured has taken on even more significance as it reaches the high court:
•Millions of Americans stand to feel the direct reach of the court, as the entire health care system and the costs associated with it could be affected by its decision. Already, millions have used the law's early benefits, such as free wellness exams for seniors and a provision that allows children up to age 26 to be covered on their parents' policies.
Yet two years in, implementation of the law has been uneven. The Commonwealth Fund, a research foundation that highlights the health care needs of the poor, found that 49 states had taken at least some steps toward implementing insurance market changes, including 23 that had passed new laws or regulations; only Arizona remained on the sidelines. Many states are proceeding too slowly to meet timetables if the law is upheld — but could reverse field if the law is overturned.
Americans remain divided on whether the law was a good or bad idea. Even so, only one in four expect it to improve their situation, and nearly three in four believe the insurance mandate is unconstitutional, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll last month showed. Many Americans also are confused about the law's standing: A poll this month by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation found 42% were either unsure of the law's status or believed the Supreme Court had already overturned it.
"The public's been dug in since the beginning," says Mollyann Brodie, Kaiser's director of public opinion and survey research. "It's really become more of a symbolic issue, and a touchstone issue, about the role of government."
•This year's presidential election and the agenda of the next Congress will be affected by the justices' ruling, expected in late June. Though the health care issue is a drag on Obama's re-election chances now, a win in court could sway independent voters, says Chris Jennings, former health policy adviser to President Clinton.
However, conservatives are twice as likely to be angry if the ruling goes against them, perhaps portending an extra push to defeat Democrats at the polls, according to the Kaiser survey. Their anger is reflective of the 3-to-1 ratio of negative-to-positive TV ads about the law over the past two years, according to Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group.
That effort likely would spill over into the 2013 congressional session, marked by targeted efforts to repeal parts or all of the law. Those efforts are underway already: The House voted 223-181 last week to abolish the Independent Payment Advisory Board, which was created under the law to keep Medicare costs from soaring. The bill is certain to die in the Senate.
•The Supreme Court's reputation and future precedents will be shaped by the outcome. Frequently divided 5-4 and facing a docket that includes immigration, affirmative action, gay marriage and voting rights, the court and Chief Justice John Roberts will themselves be judged by their decision. And a ruling to uphold the mandate, or to overturn the expansion of Medicaid, could have sweeping repercussions on future mandates or federal aid to states.
Before one word has been spoken in court, the case has been likened to its review of the income tax system in 1895, the Social Security Act in 1937 and the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts in 1964-65."It's an incredible case study about the role of the court," says Bradley Joondeph, a law professor at Santa Clara University who has monitored the health care lawsuits. "When do the justices feel it's their role to step in and essentially overrule the judgment of the political process?"
The principal players before the court will be the federal government, a coalition of 26 states, and the National Federation of Independent Business, plus two lawyers appointed by the court to argue key points. Beyond them, more than 130 amicus briefs — a modern record, surpassing two affirmative action cases in 2003 — have been filed by organizations ranging from the seniors organization AARP to the Young Invincibles, a group of young adults.
Former attorney general Edwin Meese, chairman of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the conservativeHeritage Foundation, compares the case to the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case of 1954. "The fact that they have allotted a full six hours of argument is indicative of how important the court itself deems it to be," Meese says.
Day One: Decide its fate, or wait?
The court's review of Obama's signature policy achievement follows more than two dozen federal district court lawsuits and seven at the appeals court level. Two district courts and one appeals court struck down the law; another appeals court ruled that it's too soon to try the case.
At 10 a.m. ET Monday, the court will hear 90 minutes of arguments on whether that three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals was correct, and the whole case must be put on hold. Ironically, it's a position neither side takes.
At issue is the Anti-Injunction Act of 1867, which bars challenges to tax laws before they are enforced. Because the requirement to buy health insurance is backed by an IRSpenalty, the justices must decide if challenges to the law are premature. Should that be the ruling, all bets are off until at least 2014, when the mandate takes effect — and most likely 2015, when the first penalties would be payable.
In his brief arguing for delay, Washington attorney Robert Long says Congress "provided that the penalty should be assessed and collected in the same manner as taxes," and that the Anti-Injunction Act defines taxes as "assessable penalties."Paul Clement, a former solicitor general under President George W. Bush who will argue before the nine justices as the states' lawyer, counters that the mandate, not the penalty, is being challenged. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli says the penalty "is not within the category of tax penalties that trigger" the Anti-Injunction Act.
Day Two: The main event
The most anticipated arguments will come Tuesday, when the court devotes two hours of debate to the "individual mandate" — a phrase that never appears in the 2,409-page statute.
The government's case is simple: Congress has clear authority to regulate interstate commerce. The mandate does just that by regulating the financing of health care, which represents 18% of the nation's economy. It is "necessary and proper" in order to carry out the changes in the insurance market, such as guaranteeing coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. And it's authorized by Congress' taxing power.
The law's proponents see a slam-dunk. "There's no question the federal government can do this," says Washington lawyer Joe Onek, a veteran of the Carter and Clinton administrations. "In the end, it may turn out to be an anticlimax."
Opponents say the government has never required Americans to enter into commerce and warn that such a mandate could lead to more in the future. Their pitch: If this is allowed, what couldn't the government do? "It's contrary to the notion that the federal government is a government of limited powers," says Paul Orfanedes, director of litigation for Judicial Watch, which has filed a brief in opposition.
The justices will hear only from the Justice Department, the states and the National Federation of Independent Business, but this part of the lawsuit has produced the most "friend of the court" briefs: 46 opposing the mandate and 32 supporting it.
Day Three: A double-header
Wednesday morning, the justices will hear arguments on whether the individual mandate can be thrown out and the rest of the law upheld. Neither side wants that to happen.Although the mandate is the law's most unpopular element, even proponents say if it goes, it should take at least some of the most popular provisions with it. That would include guaranteed coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and limits on premiums for those with expensive ailments — changes that the government says could not be paid for unless millions more people buy insurance.
The states and business group challenging the law argue that the mandate isn't "severable" at all — if it's struck down, the entire law should fall. The law "was a unique package deal," argues Michael Carvin, the lawyer representing small businesses. His brief says the law "cannot survive and never would have been enacted without its unconstitutional heart."
The final act will be played out Wednesday afternoon, when the court considers the law's expansion of Medicaid to cover about 16 million more adults.
The 26 states argue that the expansion and initial 100% federal funding is "coercive" by luring states into an offer they can't refuse. They say it also will pull others into Medicaid who already qualify but have not enrolled, and it will require certain treatments, all at a cost states cannot afford. "This is going to wreck our budgets," McCollum says.
Proponents see it as a key step toward universal coverage. If the court strikes down the Medicaid expansion, they say, programs ranging from child welfare to prisons could be jeopardized, as well.
In court, watching for the slightest clues
So crucial is the case that the two sides have taken up arguments usually identified with their opponents.
Liberals note that conservative opponents of the law — generally disposed toward judicial restraint — want nine unelected judges to overrule the work of the elected members of Congress.
"The unelected Supreme Court shouldn't be taking democratic decisions away from the people," chides Neal Katyal, who as acting solicitor general until last June defended the law in the lower courts.
Conservatives note that the administration denied during debate on the law that its threatened penalty was a tax. Now, however, its lawyers are eagerly calling it just that — and therefore constitutional under the taxing and spending clause. Whatever it's called, it rises to a maximum of $2,085 a family or 2.5% of household income by 2016.
"It's incredibly ironic" that backers call it a tax, says Douglas Holtz-Eakin, a formerCongressional Budget Office director and aide to Republican Sen. John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign. He accuses them of "a cynical willingness to say anything to get what they want."
If it will be difficult sometimes to tell the proponents from the opponents without a scorecard, most court-watchers needn't worry. Tickets for the oral arguments are nearly impossible to get. Those left out will crowd the streets and steps outside the court, near where Tea Party and other protesters rallied over the weekend.
Those inside will be looking for any judicial flinch or wisecrack to determine each justice's inclination. "Everybody's going to be pouncing on every raised eyebrow … the ridiculous and the sublime," says Robert Laszewski, an independent health care consultant from Virginia.
Guessing what the court will decide has become a favorite pastime of constitutional scholars and legal amateurs alike. Much of the betting is that the court, despite its 5-4 conservative tilt, will uphold the law.
One reason: Opponents have a higher burden of proof. They must prove the law unconstitutional under the commerce, tax, and necessary and proper clauses of the Constitution. Backers just need one clause to save them.
Another: A majority of lower courts upheld the law, including two judges noted for their conservatism: Jeffrey Sutton of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati and Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Sometime around June 29, the last day of the court's term, the speculation will end. But the political and policy battles over the Affordable Care Act will be far from over.
"This decision is going to come by the Fourth of July, and that's going to be just before the (national) political conventions," Laszewski says. "What's it going to mean if the Supreme Court says it was all unconstitutional and a waste of time?"
The law's defenders have an answer. "History will not judge them well, and I know that, because I'm going to write the history," says Akhil Reed Amar, a constitutional scholar atYale Law School.
Even so, the potential for a slice-and-dice decision affecting parts of the law, or one that puts off the decision altogether, has many court-watchers unwilling to predict an outcome.Says Kevin Marshall of the law firm Jones Day, which is representing the National Federation of Independent Business: "There's probably an infinite number of permutations for how this case could turn out."
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