Posts Tagged With: Joe Biden

Former Cadet Webster Smith’s Appellate Attorney Could Rise or Fall With Obama

Ronald C. Machen, Appellate Defense Attorney for former Coast Guard Academy Cadet Webster Smith.

Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, has never run for public office. Many successful politicians have started careers doing just what he has done. His aggressiveness as U.S. Attorney for the District has ousted two city council members from city hall and has turned up the heat on anyone within reach of the tainted money that floated around Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s successful mayoral campaign in 2010. Rudolf Giuliani was the U.S. Attorney in New York. After he had successfully prosecuted a number of high-profile Mafia cases and cases against Wall Street financiers, he ran for Mayor of New York. He went on to serve two terms.

The career of Attorney Machen could rise or fall with the fortunes of President Obama. Some new presidents retain a batch of U.S. attorneys but the coveted appointments typically are dictated by the winds of national politics.

Voters who decide in November whether to re-elect President Obama or replace him with Republican challenger Mitt Romney also might determine the fate of the most powerful man in D.C. politics.

Former Coast Guard Cadet, Webster Smith, the first USCG cadet ever to be court-martialed.

Machen is no stranger to high profile cases, and he has taken his share to the U.S. Supreme Court. He represented former Coast Guard Academy cadet, Webster Smith in his efforts to overturn his 2006 court-martial conviction.

(https://www.amazon.com/author/cgachall.blogspot.com)

The Webster Smith Story is an American tragedy.  It is not just the story of a Black Coast Guard Academy cadet; it is the story of an American family.

To his classmates, teachers, and coaches at the Coast Guard Academy Webster Smith appeared to be a magnetic, charming and gifted man, who had risen above his circumstances. Yet, in a moment, as if in the twinkling of an eye, a swift series of events diminished his popularity, vilified his name, and assailed his honor. His image was converted by senior Coast Guard officers from a popular athlete and nice guy to that of a sexual predator and public enemy number one at the Coast Guard Academy.

The Webster Smith case was a litmus test for justice in America. Every once in a while a case comes along that puts our humanity as a people on trial. Everything that we profess to stand for as Americans was on trial.

“The expectation is if Gov. Romney becomes President Romney, he’ll replace all the U.S. attorneys. Because that’s what presidents do,” said Paul Butler, a Georgetown law professor and former prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Conversely, analysts say, Mr. Machen, whom Mr. Obama tapped to lead the District’s office in December 2009, is on the shortlist of federal prosecutors qualified for a promotion to the upper echelons of the Justice Department if the president wins a second term and reorganizes his top law enforcement offices. Machen could even replace Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. who was sworn in as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States on February 3, 2009 by Vice President Joe Biden.

Mr. Machen, a former partner at the WilmerHale law firm who played football at Stanford University, leads the largest of the 93 U.S. attorney’s offices in the nation and its territories. Because of the District’s quasi-federal status, the office has an annual operating budget of about $70 million and roughly 300 assistant attorneys equipped to handle both federal crimes and local prosecutions that normally would fall to a state- or county-level district attorney, office spokesman Matt Jones said.

Mr. Jones, who declined to discuss potential post-election changes, said more than half of the office’s assistant U.S. attorneys are assigned to local prosecutions.

U.S. attorneys are given wide latitude in the types of cases they prosecute, and the dual caseload affords the top D.C. prosecutor a broad spectrum of cases to pursue. During the George W. Bush administration, U.S. Attorney Roscoe C. Howard Jr. said he wanted to “beef up” the District Court side of the District’s office to attract higher-profile cases, including terrorism cases and cases with international effect, in the wake of the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

During the current administration, Mr. Machen’s office has taken on a range of high-profile matters, such as the unsuccessful prosecution of baseball pitcher Roger Clemens on charges that he lied to Congress and the convictions of five D.C. men involved a series of shootings in 2010 that killed five city youths, including three teenagers on South Capitol Street.

Mr. Machen quickly made local corruption a top priority after a trickle of scandal from city hall tarnished the local government’s reputation and prompted oversight hearings and sweeping reforms. The well-worn path from the John A. Wilson Building to the U.S. District Courthouse may have stained city politics, but Mr. Machen’s crew has rewritten the narrative on how federal prosecutors handle local corruption in the nation’s capital.

“This is not a city in which we’ve had effective and aggressive public-corruption prosecutions in the past,” Mr. Butler said, citing prosecutors’ inability to obtain verdicts on many of the charges that resulted from “mayor for life” Marion Barry’s high-profile drug arrest in 1990.

Although the top prosecutor sets the tone for the office, analysts say, it is unlikely that a new president – a Republican in this instance if Mr. Romney wins – would select a U.S. attorney who wants to quash investigations into majority-Democratic city officials and their associates. It is typically the line assistants – career assistant attorneys who are not political appointees – who do the heavy lifting in each investigation.

“There’s so much momentum from the work being done at the line attorney level,” said Stephen Vladeck, a professor at American University’s Washington College of Law. “That’s why the politics are not always partisan in that respect. Is it worth exerting yourself to stop the already moving boulder?”

Mr. Machen’s office is eight for eight in securing guilty pleas from city politicians and their associates in the city’s highest-profile corruption cases since the start of the year. After a civil case by D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan, the prosecutor’s office charged council member Harry Thomas Jr., Ward 5 Democrat, in January with stealing public funds intended for youth sports programs. Thomas resigned his council seat and is serving a three-year prison term.

Six months later, Mr. Machen’s office took down council Chairman Kwame R. Brown on felony bank fraud and misdemeanor campaign finance charges, but a long-running probe into financial irregularities during the 2010 Gray campaign has yet to reach its zenith.

While many D.C. politicians frequently took a wait-and-see approach to their colleagues’ legal troubles, Mr. Machen and FBI investigators lambasted the ousted leaders’ “sense of entitlement.”

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First Openly gay Cadets Since Repeal of DADT Policy Graduate From Air Force Academy

 

The first openly gay homosexual cadets graduated Wednesday from the U.S. Air Force Academy, eight months after the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) policy took effect.

The graduation in Colorado Springs, Colo., featured an address by President Barack Obama. Obama focused his speech on the “new feeling about America” that has been generated around the world during his term.

“We can say with confidence and pride: The United States is stronger, safer and more respected in the world,” he said. “There’s a new feeling about America. I see it everywhere I go, from London and Prague, to Tokyo and Seoul, to Rio and Jakarta. There’s a new confidence in our leadership.”

The speech was the president’s last commencement address of the season. Graduation ceremonies are scheduled for this Saturday 26 May at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where Vice President Joe Biden will be the featured speaker, and at the U.S. Naval Academy on Tuesday.

Trish Heller, leader of the Blue Alliance, an association of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, and Bi-sexual, Transgender) Air Force Academy alumni, said that gay cadets were happier to blend into the graduating class rather than stand out. She said that her group was aware of at least four openly LGBT members of the class of 2012.

Students and others affiliated with the academy reported a smooth transition since repeal of DADT took effect last September.

“The Air Force Academy group – called Spectrum – was officially sanctioned earlier this month and had about 30 members from across all classes, the organizers said. “The Air Force Academy’s administration has also allowed the Blue Alliance to have a more high-profile role on campus. The group flew rainbow flags during a tailgate party before a home football game in November, Heller said, and hosted a dinner attended by the dean of faculty, Gen. Dana Born. In February, the group participated in a campus leadership symposium, she said.”

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President Obama Delivers Graduation Speech At Air Force Academy

US President Barack Obama delivers commencement address at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on May 23, 2012. Since 2009, Obama has delivered commencement addresses at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. Obama’s commencement speech in Colorado was his last of the 2012 spring season.

The president spoke in Colorado just as Romney was across the street from the White House, delivering a speech at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in which he condemned Obama’s record on education. Obama also reiterated the economic themes of his campaign, spelling out a vision of debt reduction with targeted spending.

Obama was keeping up a presidential tradition of speaking to one of the service academies every year at graduation time.

The speech was the president’s last commencement address of the season. Graduation ceremonies are scheduled for this Saturday 26 May at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where Vice President Joe Biden will be the featured speaker, and at the U.S. Naval Academy on Tuesday 29 May 2012.

His speech followed a diplomatic flurry in which he hosted the NATO summit in Chicago, where allies cemented an exit strategy for the Afghanistan war, and the G-8 summit at Camp David in Maryland.

“There’s a new feeling about America,” Obama said. “I see it everywhere I go, from London and Prague, to Tokyo and Seoul, to Rio and Jakarta,” Obama said. “There’s a new confidence in our leadership.”

NATO allies this week affirmed that the war in Afghanistan will halt at the end of 2014. The final U.S. troops left Iraq at the end of last year.

A spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, Kirsten Kukowski, said Obama’s promises have not yielded enough results for today’s college graduates.

“America’s youth face soaring unemployment, underemployment and rising tuition,” she said. “It’s time to elect a president who treats future generations as a priority and not just a political talking point.”

 

The President went on to say: QUOTE:

Cadets, you distinguished yourselves as leaders before you ever stepped foot on the Terrazzo. And when you arrived, I know your upper classes gave you quite a welcome. They let you experience the joy of Beast. The pleasure of Recognition. They made you experts at filling out forms. I only ask that you resist the temptation to rate my speech: “fast-neat-average-friendly-good-good.”

But you survived. In you we see the values of Integrity, Service, Excellence that will define your lives. And I know you couldn’t have made it without the love and support of your moms and dads and brothers and sisters. So give a big round of applause to your families.

This academy is one of the most demanding academic institutions in America. And you have excelled. I’m told you have set at least three Academy records. The largest number of graduates ever to go directly on to graduate school. The largest number of female graduates in Academy history. You will follow in the footsteps of General Janet Wolfenbarger, who I was proud to nominate as the first female four-star general in Air Force history.

And your final distinction—breaking the world record for the largest game of dodgeball. More than 3,000 of you. For more than 30 hours. I did not know that was possible. Then again, you’re also the class that snuck into the last Superintendent’s office and moved all his furniture—to your dorm rooms. Which brings me to some important business. In keeping with long-standing tradition, I hereby grant amnesty to all cadets serving restrictions and confinements for minor offenses. General Gould, I’ll let you define “minor.”

Cadets, this is the day you finally become officers in the finest Air Force in the world. Like generations before you, you will be charged with the responsibility of leading those under your command. Like classes over the past 10 years, you graduate in a time of war and you may find yourself in harm’s way. But you will also face a new test. That’s what I want to talk with you about today.

Four years ago, you arrived here at a time of great challenge for our nation. Our forces were engaged in two wars. Al Qaeda, which had attacked us on 9/11, was entrenched in their safe-havens. Many of our alliances were strained, and our standing in the world had suffered. Our economy was in the worst recession since the Great Depression. Around the world and here at home, many questioned whether the United States still had the capacity for global leadership.

Today, you step forward into a different world. You are the first class in nine years that will graduate into a world where there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in your lives—and thanks to Air Force personnel who did their part—Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to our country. We’ve put al Qaeda on the path to defeat. And you are the first graduates since 9/11 who can see clearly how we’ll end the war in Afghanistan.

What does all this mean? When you came here four years ago, there were some 180,000 American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, we’ve cut that number by more than half. And as more Afghans step up, more of our troops will come home—while achieving the objective that led us to war in the first place: defeating al Qaeda, and denying them a safe-haven. So we aren’t just ending these wars, we’re doing so in a way that makes us safer, and stronger.

Today we pay tribute to all our brave men and women in uniform who gave their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan to make this progress possible—including 16 graduates of this Academy. We honor them—always.

For a decade, we have labored under the dark cloud of war. Now, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon. The end of these wars will shape your service and it will make our military stronger. Ten years of continuous military operations have stretched our forces and strained their families. Going forward, you’ll face fewer deployments. You’ll have more time to train and stay ready. You’ll be better prepared for the full range of missions you’ll face.

Ending these wars will also ensure that the burden of our security no longer falls so heavily on the shoulders of our men and women in uniform. You can’t be expected to do it alone. There are many sources of American power—diplomatic, economic, development and the power of our ideals. We need to be using them all. And today, we are.

Around the world, the United States is leading once more. From Europe to Asia, our alliances are stronger than ever. Our ties with the Americas are deeper. We’re setting the agenda in the region that will shape our long-term security and prosperity like no other—the Asia-Pacific.

We’re leading on global security. Reducing our nuclear arsenals with Russia, even as we maintain a strong nuclear deterrent. Mobilizing dozens of nations to secure nuclear materials so they never fall into the hands of terrorists. And rallying the world to put the strongest sanctions ever on Iran and North Korea, which cannot be allowed to threaten the world with nuclear weapons.

We’re leading economically—forging trade pacts to create new markets for our goods. Boosting our exports, stamped with those three proud words—”Made in America.” And we’re expanding exchanges and collaborations in areas that people often admire most about America—our innovation, our science, our technology.

We’re leading on behalf of human dignity and freedom. Standing with the people of the Middle East and North Africa as they seek their rights. Preventing a massacre in Libya with an international mission in which the United States—and our Air Force—led from the front. We’re leading global efforts against hunger and disease. And we’ve shown our compassion, as so many airmen did in delivering relief to our neighbors in Haiti when they were in need and to our

Japanese allies after the earthquake and tsunami.

Because of this progress, there’s a new feeling about America. I see it everywhere I go, from London and Prague, to Tokyo and Seoul, to Rio and Jakarta. There’s a new confidence in our leadership. And when people around the world are asked “Which country do you admire most?”…one nation comes out on top—the United States of America.

The world stage is not a popularity contest. As a nation, we have vital interests, and we will do what is necessary to defend the country we love—even if it’s unpopular. But make no mistake, how we’re viewed in the world has consequences—for our national security, for your lives.

When other countries and people see us as a partner, they’re more willing to work with us. It’s why more countries joined us in Afghanistan and Libya. It’s why nations like Australia are welcoming our forces, to stand side-by-side with allies and partners in the South Pacific. It’s why Uganda and its African neighbors have welcomed our trainers to help defeat a brutal army that slaughters civilians.

I think of the Japanese man in the disaster zone who, upon seeing our airmen delivering relief, said, “I never imagined they could help us so much.” I think of the Libyans who protected our airman when he ejected over their town, because they knew America was there to protect them. And—in a region where we’ve seen the burning of American flags—I think of all the Libyans who were waving American flags.

Today, we can say with confidence and pride—the United States is stronger, safer and more respected in the world. Because even as we’ve done the work of ending these wars, we’ve laid the foundation for a new era of American leadership. And now, cadets, we have to build on it. Let’s start by putting aside the tired notion that says our influence has waned, that America is in decline. We’ve heard that talk before.

During the Great Depression, when millions were unemployed and some believed that other economic models offered a better way, there were those who predicted the end of American capitalism. They were wrong. We fought our way back, created the largest middle class in history and the most prosperous economy the world has ever known.

After Pearl Harbor, some said the United States had been reduced to a third-class power. But we rallied, we flew over The Hump and took island after island; we stormed the beaches and liberated nations; and we emerged from that war as the strongest power on the face of the Earth.

After Vietnam and the energy crisis of the 1970s, some said America had passed its high point. But the very next decade, because of our fidelity to the values we stand for, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down and liberty prevailed over tyranny in the Cold War.

And there was a time—the 1980s, with the rise of Japan and the Asian tigers —when many said we had lost our economic edge. But we retooled, we invested in new technologies and we launched an Information Revolution that changed the world.

After all this, you’d think folks would understand a basic truth—never bet against the United States of America.

One of the reasons is that the United States has been, and will always be, the one indispensable nation in world affairs. This is one of the many examples of why America is exceptional. And it’s why I firmly believe that if we rise to this moment in history, if we meet our responsibilities, then—just like the 20th century—the 21st will be another great American Century. That’s the future I see; that’s the future you can build.

I see an American Century because we have the resilience to make it through these tough economic times. We need to put America back to work by investing in the things that keep us competitive—education and high-tech manufacturing; science and innovation. We need to pay down our deficits, reform our tax code and keep reducing our dependence on foreign oil. We need to get on with nation-building here at home. And I know we can, because we’re still the largest, most dynamic, most innovative economy in the world. And no matter what challenges we may face, we wouldn’t trade places with any other nation on Earth.

I see an American Century because you are part of the finest, most capable military the world has ever known. No other nation even comes close. Yes, as today’s wars end, our military—and our Air Force—will be leaner. But as Commander in Chief, I will not allow us to make the mistakes of the past.

We still face very serious threats. As we’ve seen in recent weeks, with al Qaeda in Yemen, there are still terrorists who seek to kill our citizens. So we need you to be ready—for the full range of threats. From the conventional to the unconventional. From nations seeking weapons of mass destruction to the cell of terrorists planning the next attack. From the old danger of piracy to the new threat of cyber. We must be vigilant.

So, guided by our new defense strategy, we’ll keep our military—and our Air Force—fast, flexible and versatile. We will maintain our military superiority in all areas—air, land, sea, space and cyber. We’ll keep faith with our forces and military families. And as our newest veterans rejoin civilian life, we’ll never stop working to give them the benefits and opportunities they have earned—because our veterans have the skills to help us rebuild America.

I see an American Century because we have the strongest alliances of any nation. From Europe to Asia, our alliances are the foundation of global security. In Libya, all 28 NATO allies played a role and we were joined in the air by partners, from Sweden to Gulf states. In Afghanistan, we’re in a coalition of 50 allies and partners. Today, Air Force personnel are serving in 135 nations— partnering, training, building their capacity. This is how peace and security will be upheld in the 21st century—more nations bearing the costs and responsibilities of leadership. That’s good for America, and it’s good for the world.

I see an American Century because no other nation seeks the role that we play in global affairs, and no other nation can play the role that we play in global affairs. That includes shaping the global institutions of the 20th century to meet the challenges of the 21st. As President, I’ve made it clear that the United States does not fear the rise of peaceful, responsible emerging powers, we welcome them. Because when more nations step up and contribute to peace and security, that doesn’t undermine American power, it enhances it.

Moreover, when people in other countries see that we’re rooting for their success—not trying to hold them down—it builds trust and partnerships that can advance our interests for generations.

It makes it easier to meet common challenges, from preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to combating climate change. And so we seek an international order where the rights and responsibilities of all nations and peoples are upheld and where counties thrive by meeting their obligations and face consequences when they don’t.

I see an American Century because more and more people are reaching toward the freedoms and values we share. No other nation has sacrificed more—in treasure, in the lives of our sons and daughters—so that these freedoms could take root and flourish around the world. And no other nation has made the advancement of human rights and dignity so central to its foreign policy. That’s because it’s central to who we are, as Americans. It’s also in our self-interest, because democracies become our closest allies and partners.

There will always be some governments that try to resist the tide of democracy, who claim theirs is a better way. But around the world, people know the difference between us. We welcome freedom—to speak, to assemble, to worship, to choose your leaders. They don’t. We welcome the chance to compete for jobs and markets—freely, fairly. They don’t. And when fundamental human rights are threatened around the world, we stand up and speak out. They don’t.

We know that the sovereignty of nations cannot strangle the liberty of individuals. And so we stand with the students in the streets who demand a life of dignity and opportunity, and with women everywhere who deserve the same rights as men. We stand with the activists, unbowed in their prison cells, and with the leader in parliament moving her country toward democracy. We stand with the dissident who seeks the freedom to say what he pleases, the entrepreneur who wants to start a business without paying a bribe, and all those who strive for justice and dignity. For they know, as we do, that history is on the side of the free.

Finally, I see an American Century because of the character of our country—the spirit that has always made us exceptional. It’s that simple yet revolutionary idea—there at our Founding and in our hearts ever since—that we have it in our power to make the world anew; to make the future what we will. It’s that fundamental faith—that American optimism—which says no challenge is too great, no mission is too hard. It’s the spirit that guides your class—”never falter, never fail.”

That’s the essence of America, and there’s nothing else like it anywhere in the world. It’s what’s inspired the oppressed in every corner of the world to demand the same freedoms for themselves. It’s what’s inspired generations to come to our shores, renewing us with their energy and their hopes. That includes a cadet graduating today, who grew up in Venezuela, got on a plane with a one-way ticket to America and today is closer to his dream of becoming an Air Force pilot—Edward Camacho. Edward says what we all know to be true: “I’m convinced that America is the land of opportunity.”

That’s who we are. That’s the America we love. Always young. Always looking ahead, to that light of a new day on the horizon. Cadets, as I look into your eyes—as you join that Long Blue Line—I know you’ll carry us even farther, even higher. And with your proud service, I am absolutely confident that the United States of America will meet the tests of our time. We’ll remain the land of opportunity. And we’ll stay strong as the greatest force for freedom and human dignity the world has ever known.

May God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America. (UNQUOTE)

 

Following his speech, the president was headed to fundraisers in Denver and California’s Silicon Valley.

 

cd24OBAMA President Barack Obama arrives at Buckley Air Force base in Aurora today May 23rd, 2012. He was in Colorado to give the commencement address to graduating cadet at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He flew to Denver on Air Force One for a fundraising event.

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