Obama in the Briefing Room

The president made a surprise visit to the daily press briefing Tuesday, only the third time he has made such an appearance to date. He reported back on today’s talks with congressional leaders from both parties, and took wide-ranging questions from the press.

Obama said he asked Republican leadership this morning to end the practice …

The World’s Worst Negotiators–Continued

Iran continues to play games with the rest of the world with regard to its nuclear program. This weekend, we’ve had the Foreign Minister claiming that a nuclear deal was close. And Ahmadinejad threatening the exact opposite: a further augmentation of its highly enriched uranium for use in a nuclear reactor to produce medical isotopes. …

The Latest Iran Outrage

Apparently, Iran’s military dictatorship is now moving to arrest its opponents–and there are many–among the Mullahs in the holy city of Qum. Word comes that Ayatullah Mohammed Taqi Khalaji has been arrested. His family does not know where he is being held.

Khalaji is a follower of the late reformist Grand Ayatullah Montazeri, whose …

Iran Nuclear Physicist Killed

This is one for the spy novels…in fact, David Ignatius’ most recent offering, The Increment, had a very similar situation: An Iranian nuclear physicist is killed. The Iranians blame the Great Satan, of course, but then we learn:

Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, 50, was described by colleagues as a respected Tehran University nuclear physicist.

Hossein Ali Montazeri

Word comes that Ayatullah Hossein Ali Montazeri has died at the age of 87. He was Iran’s road not taken, a leading cleric–Ayatullah Khomeini’s designated successor for a time–who came to understand that the Islamic Republic’s religious dictatorship was taking a fundamentally irreligious path. He was a revolutionary who came to believe …

Iran’s Silly Reaction

Iran’s “decision” to build ten new nuclear processing plants is both risible and pathetic. This is a country that has most of the world united against its nuclear defiance–a situation that the regime seems to think it can use to bolster domestic support, as it used to do when it had more credibility–and is flailing about, searching for …

Ahmadinejad the Moderate?

The usually excellent David Sanger has a very frustrating piece of analysis in the NY Times today. He reports that a public debate has erupted in Iran over whether to accept the west’s nuclear non-proliferation offer:

For days now, Iran’s leadership has been fighting over whether to take that deal, with political opponents of

Debating Afghanistan

If you haven’t already noticed on CSPAN2, the Senate has begun debate on the FY2010 Defense Appropriations bill. Typically, defense is the last of the 13 spending bills to be passed because it’s a must pass – ie, you can’t not update military funding in a time of war – and it often becomes a Christmas tree for all the pork that …

Belated Thanks

Much mayhem at the Al Quds day festivities in Iran yesterday. The former reform President Mohammed Khatami was attacked by thugs, apparently. The former establishmentarian President Ali Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who endorsed Mousavi in the last election, was denied his traditional position as the Quds Day speaker at Friday prayers. The …


It seems an appropriate time to resurrect The New Republic’s clever name for the 1980s Iran-Contra scandal. It seems the Iranians are playing hardball on the nuclear negotiations.

Khamenei Is A Dictator, Say Clerics

It is wrong to call Iran a monarchy, even though it has a supreme leader who oversees all matters of state. (He is, in turn, overseen by a council of Islamic scholars, the Assembly of Experts, which has the ability to remove, in theory, the supremacy of the supreme.) But it is still striking to have an anonymous letter from unnamed …

Gibbs Retracts On Iran

This from White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs via Reuters:

“Let me correct a little bit of what I said yesterday. I denoted that Mr. Ahmadinejad was the elected leader of Iran. I would say that’s not for me to pass judgment on,” Gibbs told reporters aboard Air Force One.

“He’s been inaugurated. That’s a fact. Whether any

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