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Returning from Hawaii. (Photo/WWR)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Today in the West Wing: Thursday, May 6

So the Times Square bomber failed. But only because he was incompetent - not because the U.S. knew who, or where, he was.

Good morning, and this question is haunting the U.S. government – plus millions of Americans: how could Faisal Shahzad come THAT close to pulling it off?

After all, we knew he’d been to Pakistan for months on end – here’s an exchange between press secretary Robert Gibbs and CBS Radio’s Peter Maer:

Q Well, if it wasn’t as grave, say, as a systemic failure, would you concede then there were some failures that allowed both the planning of the bomb and his ability to re-enter the U.S. and plant this bomb and almost get away -- there were a number of failures? What I’m getting at is, is the President going to --

MR. GIBBS: Well, I guess I would just ask you to be more specific about each one of your -- I don't want to try to parse what you’re saying, but I don't --

Q Okay, the guy left the United States. He came back from Pakistan, and he was interviewed when he came back, because that policy was allowed.

MR. GIBBS: Right.

Q They had certain details about him. He was able to drive into Times Square, plant this bomb --

MR. GIBBS: I guess I’m not entirely sure what would -- I’m not the police commissioner for New York. I’m not the mayor of New York. I honestly don't know what would prevent somebody from driving into Times Square.

Q Well, drive into Times Square, fine. But to -- this guy had a background.


Today's Schedule

No public appearances for the President today. After his usual intelligence and economic briefings, he'll head downstairs to the Situation Room for a national security meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan. No doubt Saturday's attempted car bombing in Times Square will cast a shadow over the meeting.

Expected attendees include:

Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State

Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense

Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff

Ambassador Susan Rice, United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations

General James L. Jones, National Security Advisor

Admiral Dennis Blair, Director of National Intelligence

Tom Donilon, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor

John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism

James Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State

Michele Flournoy, Undersecretary of Defense Policy

Leon Panetta, CIA Director

Rajiv Shah, USAID Administrator

Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (via videoconference)

General James E. Cartwright, USMC, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan

Anne Patterson, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan (via videoconference)

Karl Eikenberry, U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan (via videoconference)

General David Petraeus, Commander, USCENTCOM

General Stanley McChrystal, Commander, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)

Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, Special Assistant to the President for Afghanistan and Pakistan

In the afternoon, the President will meet with Secretary of State Clinton in the Oval Office. This meeting is closed press.



9:15AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press

10:00AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Economic Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press

11:00AM THE PRESIDENT meets with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan
Situation Room
Closed Press

3:30PM THE PRESIDENT meets with Secretary of State Clinton
Oval Office
Closed Press

Briefing Schedule

1:30PM Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs


On This Day

1933: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs an executive order creating the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The WPA was just one of many Great Depression relief programs created under the auspices of the Emergency Relief Appropriations Act, which Roosevelt had signed the month before. The WPA, the Public Works Administration (PWA) and other federal assistance programs put unemployed Americans to work in return for temporary financial assistance. Out of the 10 million jobless men in the United States in 1935, 3 million were helped by WPA jobs alone.

While FDR believed in the "elementary principles of justice and fairness," he also expressed disdain for doling out welfare to otherwise able workers. So, in return for monetary aid, WPA workers built highways, schools, hospitals, airports and playgrounds. They restored theaters--such as the Dock Street Theater in Charleston, S.C.--and built the ski lodge at Oregon s Mt. Hood. The WPA also put actors, writers and other creative arts professionals back to work by sponsoring federally funded plays, art projects, such as murals on public buildings, and literary publications.

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Presidential Quote

"I have never been hurt by anything I didn't say." - Calvin Coolidge

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