American Morning

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April 23rd, 2009
10:00 AM ET

Taliban advances in Pakistan "very serious"

Former CIA Islamabad Station Chief Robert Grenier speaks to CNN about Pakistan's fight against the Taliban.
Former CIA Islamabad Station Chief Robert Grenier speaks to CNN about Pakistan's fight against the Taliban.

Pakistani authorities on Thursday deployed paramilitary troops to a district, only 60 miles from the capital, where Taliban militants appeared to be consolidating control after this week's land-grab. Yesterday, we learned of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s fears about the Taliban's power grab, and how it's threatening Pakistan, an important U.S. ally who has nuclear weapons.

“I think that we cannot underscore the seriousness of the existential threat posed to the state of Pakistan by the continuing advances now within hours of Islamabad that are being made by a loosely confederated group of terrorists and others who are seeking the overthrow of the Pakistani state; which is, as we all know, a nuclear-armed state.”

Just how dire is the situation there? Robert Grenier, former CIA Station Chief in Islamabad, spoke with John Roberts on CNN’s “American Morning” Thursday.

John Roberts: You know this area as well as anybody. You heard the secretary of state’s warning. David Kilcullen, an advisor to the Obama administration who also knows that area very well, says Pakistan is in danger of collapse. How dire do you think the situation there is?

Robert Grenier: The situation is very serious. I'm very concerned about it as are most of the specialists who study that region. The trends are all very bad. I don't think that the country is in danger of imminent collapse, however.


Filed under: Pakistan
April 23rd, 2009
06:23 AM ET

Obama’s $100 Million Test

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="John Avlon was director of speechwriting and deputy director of policy for Rudy Giuliani's presidential campaign."]

By John Avlon
The Daily Beast

After last week’s tea party tax protests, President Obama acknowledged “a confidence gap, when it comes to the American people. And we’ve got to earn their trust.”

Democrats have been slapped with the tax and spend liberal label for decades – and candidate Obama spent much time on the campaign trail trying to distance himself from that legacy. “When I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely,” he promised, offering assurance to the moderate majority of Americans that his would be an administration dedicated to fiscal responsibility.

Of course, all that was before the fiscal crisis and neo-Keynisan Kool-Aid started to be passed around Capitol Hill, with congressmen chugging it by the billions as the deficit ballooned.

This week, President Obama tried to square his young administration’s record with his campaign rhetoric by announcing a commitment to cut $100 million dollars in wasteful spending at his first cabinet meeting.

Keep reading this story

Filed under: Politics
April 23rd, 2009
06:20 AM ET

Fast Forward

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Here are some of the stories that will be making news later today:

At 9:30am ET, the man in charge of monitoring the 700-billion dollar taxpayer bailout appears before Congress to give a progress report today. Special Inspector General for TARP Neil Barofsky says the program has evolved into a 3-trillion dollar program of "unprecedented scope, scale and complexity."

At 10am ET, the House Financial Services Committee will be focusing on predatory lending. They'll be examining a bill Senator Barney Frank co-authored to crack down on lenders and lax lending standards.

President Obama will be on Capitol Hill to deliver remarks at the Holocaust Days of Remembrance Ceremony at 11am ET.

At 2:30pm ET, Attorney General Eric Holder heads to Capitol Hill for a House budget hearing. Don't be surprised if questions turn from budgets to potential prosecutions of Bush administration officials who authorized harsh interrogation techniques on terror suspects. Holder speaking publicly about the controversy for the first time yesterday saying, "No one is above the law."

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also on Capitol Hill today. She'll be there to discuss State Department budget issues, but it's likely tough questions on Iran and Pakistan will be on the agenda.

And all day long we're keeping a close eye on those spreading wildfires in South Carolina. The coastal fires have torched over three thousand acres and over 40 homes. The CNN weather center will be monitoring those fires all day.

Filed under: Fast Forward
April 23rd, 2009
06:05 AM ET

What's on Tap – Thursday April 23, 2009

Here are the big stories on the agenda today:

  • The fight to keep more money in your pockets. President Obama is meeting with top executives of credit card companies at the White House today. He’s looking to crack down on sketchy fees and corrupt lending practices. With car sales at historic lows and a massive backlog of unsold vehicles, General motors is reportedly set to announce the bulk of its plants will shut down for up to nine weeks over the summer. GM’s 55,000 workers could get the word on which ones will be affected as early as today.
  • Another domino falls. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday that Pakistan is in danger of falling into terrorist hands because of failed government policies. Taliban militants, who implemented Islamic law in Pakistan's violence-plagued Swat Valley last week, have now taken control of a neighboring district which brings them closer than they've been to the power center of a nation with nuclear weapons. We’ll ask a Former CIA Islamabad station chief what we can do, if anything to stop this.
  • Fidel’s Two Cents. Just when everyone is hailing the Big Thaw between U.S. and Cuba, Fidel Castro weighs in – again. In one of his seemingly endless essays, the ailing former president says Obama "misinterpreted" his younger brother Raul Castro – who offered to talk about "everything" including human rights and political prisoners with Obama. Fidel Castro says Raul is merely showing his faith in Cuba's Revolution. All of which raises the ongoing question – just who's in charge in Cuba anyway?
  • Michelle Obama’s style. It’s not just what she is wearing that is intriguing, it’s the possibility of what she could wear that has designers inspired. With the world watching to see what she’ll wear next, it’s no surprise that Michelle Obama has become a muse to many. In his fall line, Elie Tahari has created the “Michelle” dress. It’s more casual than what we’ve seen her wear, but more practical for day- to-day and more realistic for those who would like to emulate her style.

Filed under: What's On Tap
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