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World

Unmanned Drone Put in Charge of War in Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan – The Defense Department announced Friday that one of its many Predator drones will take over command of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, effective immediately.

The drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle (UVA), replaces General Stanley A. McChrystal, who had been in charge of U.S. and Nato forces in Afghanistan since June of 2009. Gen. McChrystal could not be reached for comment.

Pentagon Spokesman Geoff Morrell explained the thinking behind Friday’s decision, saying that Defense Secretary Robert Gates had not lost confidence in General McChrystal; he had gained confidence in the unmanned drones.

“The role of unmanned drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan has continued to increase to the point where it was mutually agreed by the Pentagon leadership that they are now experienced enough and battle-tested enough to take command of the war effort in Afghanistan,” Morrell said. “It will be a fresh approach. I don’t think anyone can deny that.”

Morrell said the particular Predator drone chosen to lead the U.S. forces would not be appearing before the press or answering any questions about possible changes in war strategy.

“It’s a drone,” Morrell said. “It won’t be giving any press conferences.”

Praising the career and service of General McChrystal, Morrell said the decision was a difficult one for Secretary Gates to make, but that he had the full support of the Pentagon leadership.

“Secretary Gates made the decision after intense discussions with military leadership and in-depth analysis of the current state of the war effort,” Morrell said. “General McChrystal did an outstanding job in his time as commander in Afghanistan. It was just time, Secretary Gates thought, for a commander who was not human. Who was an aircraft of some type.”

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NPN

Obama’s Afghanistan Troop Decision – NPN

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National

Obama Fails to Keep Country Safe From Dick Cheney

Washington – President Barack Obama has said his first priority is to keep the American people safe. While he has kept them safe from attacks from terrorist organizations and other foreign entities thus far, he has not been able to keep them safe from the man who is perhaps the administration’s fiercest enemy – former Vice President Dick Cheney. Mr. Obama acknowledged as much in a press briefing today at the White House.

“I have to look at it honestly and objectively, and when I do that, I see that I haven’t done the job,” the president said. “Vice President Cheney is still out there, speaking, scaring the bejeezus out of kids and nervous people everywhere, and I have to take some of the blame for that.”

Mr. Cheney has been on what has amounted to a media blitz of late, appearing on several television programs and making public speeches, attempting to defend harsh interrogation policies authorized by the Bush Administration. Americans have been exposed to Cheney far more often than some of them would like.

Jane Armster of Portland, Oregon said she thought the worst was over. “You know the election happened, and I thought, ‘Wow, he’s gone. Cheney’s really gone.’ And then here we are, what, a few months later, and he’s back. And he’s on TV all the time. He’s everywhere. It’s like he’s vice president all over again, except this time he has the energy to appear in public and talk all the time. It’s terrifying.”

Mike Mansher of Cleveland, Ohio said, “I feel like I’m in some kind of time warp or something. Like it’s 2003 again. And I hated 2003. I was dating this chick, and she was just a nightmare. Clingy, psycho. Hated my friends. So I don’t want to go back there again, thank you very much.”

Washington was abuzz this morning over a Washington Post report that Mr. Cheney is amassing a private army made up of thousands of paid soldiers ready to fight the U.S. military, if necessary. The former vice president is also named in separate Post story as “someone who expressed interest” in obtaining a black market nuclear weapon or the materials to make such a weapon by a Pakistani man in British custody who is awaiting trial on terrorism charges. The man, Ejaz Youseff, claims to have “extensive firsthand knowledge” of the nuclear weapons black market.

Lynne Headman, a spokeswoman in Mr. Cheney’s Washington, D.C. office, called both stories “flatly untrue.”

“Vice President Cheney has never pursued the purchase of a nuclear weapon,” Ms. Headman said. “And if he did, he would pay for it above board, fair and square and using the proper channels. Like he does with all his other weapons of mass destruction.”

Mr. Obama vowed to fight the forces of Mr. Cheney with new resolve, but said he won’t go beyond the rule of law.

“What I won’t do is torture, or do anything else that undermines the rule of law or goes against our founding principles,” he said. “We can defeat our enemies without sacrificing the moral authority that is our greatest currency. We can do that even against an enemy as formidable as Dick Cheney.”

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World

Guantanamo Detainee Suggests Moving Guantanamo Detainees to Ramada Inn

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – Omar Nazirr, an Afghani who has been in U.S. custody at the military prison at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base since 2003, said he has a suggestion for where to put detainees of the prison camp once it closes. Nazirr says the 240 detainees could be moved to a Ramada Inn off I-95 in Maryland. “I’ve been there,” Nazirr said. “It’s nice.” President Obama has ordered the Guantanamo prison camp closed by January 22, 2010.

There has been a heated debate in recent days over the issue of relocating the detainees following the prison’s closure. Democrats this week refused to grant funds to close the camp until the White House offers a concrete plan for transferring the detainees. Nazirr says he can help solve this problem.

“I’ll help out the U.S. on this,” he said through a fence to reporters standing outside the prison gates. “The Ramada Inn in Perryville, Maryland has plenty of rooms for all of us detainees. I’ve stayed there myself, when I was in the U.S. to study, many years ago. Before you decided I was an enemy combatant. Trust me, it will fit us all, no problem.”

Nazirr said because the Ramada Inn is affordable, it might end up saving the United States money.

“I bet you it’s cheaper than running Guantanamo Bay,” he said. “I bet you can get a good rate, too, if you get a whole bunch of rooms. I don’t want to tell you your business, but two to a room is probably a reasonable arrangement. So that’s 120 rooms. You’ll get an amazing rate. Maybe say it’s a wedding. I don’t know.”

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, told of Nazirr’s suggestion, scoffed and said, “I was thinking something more along the lines of Harry Reid’s house, if the prisoners were brought to America.”

Nazirr did not accept the improbability that U.S. lawmakers would allow prisoners from Guantanamo into the United States at all, let alone let them stay in a hotel.

“Why? What’s the big deal?” he asked. “The only difference between a maximum security prison and a Ramada is really the decor, when you really think about it.”

Nazzir pushed his idea even as he was taken back inside the prison. “I’m telling you,” he yelled. “Perryville. Fantastic.”

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World

Biden Keeps Challenging World Leaders to Arm-Wrestle

Washington – Vice President Joe Biden has alarmed President Barack Obama and other members of the Obama administration in recent days by offering to arm-wrestle each world leader that has come to meet with the president, according to sources who attended the meetings.