Shortly after Obama's election, Gen. Craig R. McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, was promoted to four-star general. While the position now carries the same rank as the other four Joint Chiefs, the Guard still does not have an official chair on the council.
The cram-down measure failed in the Senate on a 45-51 vote.
Detainees at Bagram Theater Internment Facility in Kabul will be able to appeal their imprisonment through civilian courts when the prison passes to Afghan oversight at a date to be determined. The Taliban have condemned the plan to hand over the prison to the Afghan government, arguing that treatment of those held there will only get worse.
Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, ordered every federal agency to create transparency sites with “high-value” data on the Internet, carrying out Obama’s Open Government Directive. But by March, 27 of 64 independent agencies have yet to do so, according to ProPublica. The initial deadline for agencies to set up sites for public disclosure was Feb. 6, and then it was extended to March 8, allowing the OMB time to create a plan agencies can utilize to increase transparency.
As the Guantanamo Bay detention center enters its ninth year of use, the Obama administration is still undecided about what to do with the detainees and how to replace the facility.
The activist group Witness Against Torture chose the anniversary to protest outside the White House dressed as hooded detainees, demanding that Obama close the prison. The group has also planned a hunger strike for 12 days until Jan. 22 -- the deadline Obama set for closing the prison shortly after he took office.
Some critics like Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., are opposed to trying detainees in American criminal courts or releasing them to countries such as Yemen, where the attempted Christmas Day terrorist plot was allegedly planned.
According to recent polling, more Americans are willing to keep the detention center open now than in November.
By ZACK HALE
The sheer size of the $787 billion stimulus package, much of which will be channeled to private contractors for "shovel-ready" projects, might seem to render hollow Obama's campaign promise to cut federal contract spending by at least 10 percent. While it remains to be seen whether Obama will cut spending that much, the early numbers suggest outflows to federal contractors are on pace to match last year’s totals.
To be sure, stimulus funds have been disbursed slowly up to this point, making it difficult to predict how much money the federal government will award to private contractors (see chart of recently announced stimulus spending below). According to Recovery.gov, only about $36 billion was paid out through the end of May, just $1.8 billion of which was awarded in federal contracts.
Combined with regular spending, the federal government has so far this year written checks for $146 billion on slightly more than 1 million federal contracts (see chart below). That's less than half the total spent in 2008 and about 3 million fewer contracts, largely because most of the stimulus money is being spent on the state and local level. These numbers will change, however, as the pace of recovery spending increases -- Obama announced Monday that the federal government will pump money into public works projects during the summer in an effort to create or save 600,000 jobs.
Tracking progress on Obama's reform-minded pledge is even more difficult because his promise of greater transparency is moving as slowly as stimulus funds. Critics have complained that the administration has taken too long to post spending data on Recovery.gov.
A database disclosing how much federal contractors spend on lobbying and their success at completing contracts has not been created, despite steps towards greater transparency. Obama's Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government directs the federal agencies to post more information online, and Recovery.gov was launched to track stimulus bill funding. These first steps, however, have not yet resulted in the promised database.