The Friday Faxline Issue 488
President honors Medal of Freedom winners
In a recent ceremony at the White House, President Bush honored ten individuals with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civil award. The award was established in 1963 by executive order and is given "to any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." Those chosen to receive the prestigious award this year are Ruth Johnson Colvin, Norman C. Francis, Paul Johnson, Riley "B.B." King, Joshua Lederberg, David McCullough, Norman Y. Mineta, John "Buck" O'Neil, William Safire, Natan Sharansky. More information on each recipient can be found on the White House website: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/12/20061207-2.html.
Incoming Intel Chairman struggles with terrorism test
A recent interview conducted by Congressional Quarterly with incoming House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) contained a disturbing revelation. When asked whether he knew which faction of Islam - Sunni or Shiite - the al Qaeda terror network is comprised of, he wrongly guessed Shiite. He was similarly confused when asked which faction fills the ranks of Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Shiite terror group in Lebanon. These basic facts are essential to an overall understanding of the larger issues of conflict in the Middle East. According to a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, "it appears [Reyes] first needs a remedial course on America's terrorist enemies," before taking the reins of a House Committee with great influence on our intelligence gathering efforts in the Middle East and elsewhere.
White House Situation Room gets overhaul
Located in the West Wing of the White House, the Situation Room has been the scene of high-level Presidential decision making since its inception during the Kennedy Administration. Since August, the 5,000 square foot nerve center has been undergoing much needed improvements to incorporate new technologies that will improve its functionality. The President holds regular meetings in the Situation Room with his national security team. During crisis situations, the room becomes an emergency-management center for the President and his staff. Though it has been renovated several times since its creation, this upgrade involved stripping the complex "down to the bricks and the bare floor," according to White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joe Hagin. The improvements were also designed to allow for faster and easier upgrades to be made in the future as more sophisticated communications technology becomes available.
C-SPAN seeks to upgrade access
The Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network (C-SPAN) has been providing the American public with real-time coverage of the proceedings in Congress since its first broadcast in 1979. Now they're looking to expand their coverage. Current rules limit the network's cameras inside the House Chamber to head-on shots of individual Representatives as they address the floor. Earlier this month, C-SPAN's CEO sent a letter to incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), requesting that she loosen the rules to allow for reaction shots and other angles that would give viewers a more complete picture of the activity in what's commonly referred to as The People's House. A spokesperson for Pelosi said her boss is reviewing the request but has not made a decision yet.
Quote of the Week
"I've announced it 27 times."
-Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), asked recently by reporters in New Hampshire if he is officially running for President in 2008.