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May 15, 2013

U.S. tax chief ousted in scandal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Washington’s top tax official was fired on Wednesday as President Barack Obama sought to stem a rising tide of criticism over the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups for special scrutiny.

Seeking to regain the initiative amid a series of controversies that have threatened his second-term agenda, Obama said new leadership was needed to restore public confidence in the IRS, whose reputation for political independence has suffered a major blow.

May 15, 2013

U.S. lawmakers press for changes at scandal-plagued tax agency

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As Republican lawmakers stepped up their calls for top Internal Revenue Service officials to resign, President Barack Obama planned to meet with Treasury officials on Wednesday to discuss how to respond to the growing uproar over the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups for extra scrutiny.

A day after a Treasury Department inspector general’s report that described how poor management led to an “inappropriate” focus on claims by conservative groups for tax-exempt status, several lawmakers set their sights on acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller.

May 15, 2013

FBI opens criminal probe of U.S. tax agency, audit cites disarray

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday he had ordered the FBI to open a criminal probe in a growing scandal over the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative political groups for extra tax scrutiny.

Holder’s announcement came about four hours before an inspector general’s report on the IRS portrayed the tax agency as plagued by disarray and “insufficient oversight” during its struggles to review the cases of hundreds of advocacy groups that claimed they should be tax exempt.

May 14, 2013

FBI to probe U.S. tax agency’s actions on conservative groups

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday he had ordered the FBI to open a criminal probe in a growing scandal over the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative political groups for extra tax scrutiny.

Holder announced the Justice Department investigation as the tax agency’s embattled acting commissioner, Steven Miller, traveled to Capitol Hill for meetings on the scandal amid Republican lawmakers’ calls for his resignation.

May 13, 2013

Obama pushes for Syria talks but warns of huge challenges

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama vowed on Monday to work to bring the Syrian government and rebels to the negotiating table in coming weeks but warned that a “combustible mix” of regional meddling and Islamist militancy would make it hard to halt the country’s civil war.

Even as Obama backed a new joint U.S.-Russian effort to seek a diplomatic solution in Syria, he cited an array of obstacles to a credible peace process, including the involvement of Iran, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front in the two-year-old conflict.

Apr 30, 2013

Obama renews vow to close Guantanamo detention camp

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Saying it was damaging to U.S. interests to keep holding prisoners in legal limbo at Guantanamo, President Barack Obama renewed an old vow on Tuesday to close the camp, where about 100 inmates are on hunger strike to protest against their years in detention without trial.

Human rights groups welcomed Obama’s recommitment to shutting the prison, but some activists called for action, not just words.

Apr 30, 2013

Obama vows new push to close Guantanamo detention camp

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama vowed on Tuesday to make a new push to close the Guantanamo detention center, where about 100 inmates are on hunger strike, saying it was damaging to U.S. interests to keep holding prisoners there in legal limbo.

Human rights groups have long been critical of the 12-year-old camp for foreign terrorism suspects, and their concern has intensified in recent weeks. Some of those on hunger strike are being force-fed at the camp at the U.S. Naval Base in Cuba.

Apr 27, 2013

Obama talks tough, shows no rush to act on Syria chemical arms evidence

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama warned Syria on Friday that its use of chemical weapons would be a “game changer” for the United States but made clear he was in no rush to intervene in the civil war there on the basis of evidence he said was still preliminary.

Speaking a day after the disclosure of U.S. intelligence that Syria had likely used chemical weapons against its own people, Obama talked tough while calling for patience as he sought to fend off pressure for a swift response against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Apr 26, 2013

Obama: Chemical weapons use in Syria would be ‘game changer’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama warned President Bashar al-Assad on Friday that any use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war would be a “game changer” but cautioned that intelligence assessments that such weapons had been deployed were still preliminary.

Speaking a day after the White House said for the first time that Assad’s government had likely used chemical weapons on a small scale, Obama talked tough while appealing for patience as he sought to fend off pressure at home and abroad for a swift U.S. response.

Apr 25, 2013

U.S., Russian spies’ “trust deficit” may have clouded Boston case

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. authorities have long cast a wary eye on counterterrorism intelligence from Russia, Obama administration officials say, raising questions about whether a “trust deficit” clouded efforts to determine if Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev posed a danger.

Any intelligence disconnect between the United States and Russia could have broader repercussions, complicating plans to cooperate on security for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, not far from Russia’s restive north Caucasus region.

    • About Matt

      "White House correspondent who has covered news on four continents for Reuters, from Latin American coups and drug wars to the O.J. Simpson murder trial in Los Angeles to the Balkans conflict to the second Palestinian Intifada to the Iraq war. He has covered George W. Bush and is now covering President Barack Obama."
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