Washington Extra – Lying game

June 15, 2011

Allies lie.

Those words of wisdom came from outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates at a congressional hearing. “I would say based on 27 years in CIA and 4 1/2 years in this job — most governments lie to each other. That’s the way business gets done,” Gates said.

“And sometimes they send people to spy on us and they’re our close allies,” he said.

Gates was responding to questions about how the United States can trust and support governments like Pakistan and Afghanistan where the relationship is laced with duplicity.

At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney was asked whether Pakistan was an ally. His response: “Pakistan is a partner of the United States.” Is that different from ally? “I think there are diplomatic nuances between these words.”

Sounds like a demotion from friend to business associate.

Here are our top stories from Washington…

Debt talks test Biden political skills

Joe Biden’s legendary charm might not work this time. The clock is ticking in talks between the vice president and six members of Congress to prevent a U.S. debt crisis, with the threat of world financial chaos looming if they cannot make a deal this summer. Progress has been slow as Biden leads negotiations on how Congress can allow the Treasury Department to borrow more than its current limit of $14.3 trillion.

For more of this story by Caren Bohan and Tim Reid, read here.

Kyl says July 1 is group’s goal on debt deal

A group of top lawmakers set an ambitious July 1 goal to reach a broad debt-reduction deal, even though Republicans and the White House are still far apart on taxes and healthcare. Vice President Biden sat down in the Capitol with six lawmakers trying to agree on how to narrow huge budget deficits and raise the debt limit so the United States can avoid defaulting on its financial obligations and keep borrowing money to pay its bills.

For more of this story by Andy Sullivan and Richard Cowan, read here.

Obama, Boehner golf to get debt talks out of rough
President Barack Obama and Republican leader John Boehner will hit the golf course on Saturday with many hoping that over 18 holes they can knock Washington’s troubled debt limit talks out of the rough. U.S. presidents have been playing golf with friends and foes for years. They often find it a good way to talk candidly and — between putts and drives, shanks and hooks — unearth some common ground, apart from divots.

For more of this story by Thomas Ferraro and Tim Reid, read here.

U.S. debated oil reserve swap before OPEC: sources

It was to be a swap felt around the world – a plan privately discussed by the world’s largest oil exporter and the globe’s biggest consumer to take the heat out of $120-plus oil prices. In the weeks leading up to the failed June OPEC meeting, U.S. and Saudi officials met to discuss shipping some of the light low-sulphur, or “sweet,” crude out of the SPR to European refiners. Saudi Arabia would sell its heavier high-sulphur crude at a discount to the United States. It was a striking suggestion. But it did not make it past the drawing board, four sources confirmed.

For more of this story by Jeff Mason and Richard Mably, read here.

Economy faces weaker growth, higher prices

The economy is facing a troubling mix of higher prices and weak growth. Underlying inflation rose to its highest level in nearly three years in May, while a regional factory gauge posted a surprise contraction this month. American consumers did get some relief on prices from lower gasoline costs, which could help the economy emerge from a recent rough patch if sustained. But in a trend that could trouble policymakers at the Federal Reserve, the Labor Department said the consumer price index outside food and energy surged.

For more of this story by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa, read here.

Defense chiefs grilled over Pakistan duplicity

Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged that “most countries lie to each other” as he faced renewed questions in Congress about whether Pakistan and Afghanistan were playing a double game with Washington. The occasionally tense hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee exposed growing unease about the alliance with Pakistan and strategy in Afghanistan after nearly a decade of war.

For more of this story by David Alexander and Phil Stewart, read here.

CIA drone plan in Yemen faces obstacles

An Obama administration plan to expand the use of CIA-operated drones against militants in Yemen faces obstacles and will take considerable effort to put into full operation, an official familiar with the plan said. It “could take months, not weeks” for the U.S. spy agency to bring its planned Yemen drone activities up to full speed. Other officials have said the CIA was trying to build a drone surveillance and attack capability similar to its program against militants in tribal areas along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan.

For more of this story by Mark Hosenball, read here.

Republican Bachmann moves out of Palin’s shadow

For months, Republicans Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin were portrayed as political twins, the fiery Tea Party favorites who would vie to lead a conservative assault on President Barack Obama. But with her entry in the 2012 Republican nominating battle and a strong debate performance, Bachmann has quickly moved out of Palin’s shadow and on to the national stage with newfound credibility.

For more of this story by John Whitesides, read here.

What we are blogging…

Republicans hold debt school for lawmakers

Pop quiz: What’s the debt limit? As the deadline for raising borrowing authority nears, House Republican leaders have been holding a series of workshops for their 240 members to help “educate” them on the debt limit.

For Richard Cowan’s full post, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jim Young (Gates at congressional hearing)

One comment

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Governments lie, really? Of course the US government has the purest of intentions.

The debt talks so far appear to have not gone beyond political posturing which now consumes the actions of both parties rather than taking care of the nations citizens.

The oil swap sounded like a good political move to reduce the price of gas in the short term and get consumers off Obama’s case but stuck us with low grade oil.

The economy will continue to face weak growth and higher prices while we all sit around still witting for Reagan trickle down economics to start working.

Bachman better hope that she dose not find herself in the shadow of Palin’s helicopter.

Posted by seattlesh | Report as abusive