Tales from the Trail

Obama admits to mistakes, but no big ones

Barack Obama says he probably makes one mistake a day, but doesn’t think he has made any fundamental ones in almost 10 months as president of the United States.

obamartrsToward the end of his first term, his predecessor George W. Bush famously said in answer to a question that he could not think of any mistakes he had made — a comment which long dogged him as the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 led to chaos in Iraq.

When Obama was asked the same question on Monday, he was quicker on his feet.

“Oh, we make at least one mistake a day,” he said with a smile.

“But I will say this, I don’t think we’ve made big mistakes,” he told Reuters in an interview in the Oval Office. “I don’t think we’ve made fundamental mistakes.”

When asked to give a few examples of errors, Obama regretted how his team had handled some of the early vetting of administration appointments, a reference to problems with personal taxes that knocked some key picks out of contention.

He also mentioned regret over how he had “phrased commentary” on the controversial arrest of a prominent African American Harvard University scholar in Cambridge earlier this year, when he said police had acted stupidly and was later forced to backtrack. OBAMA/INTERVIEW

FBI discussed advising Saddam Hussein of legal rights, decided no

Much has been made over the past few months by some Republicans in Congress about whether terrorism suspects arrested overseas by U.S. military forces must be read their legal rights and the answer has been largely no.IRAQ-SADDAM/

It turns out that the issue was debated at least as far back as early 2004 when American forces captured ousted Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, according to a document released late Friday night under Freedom of Information Act requests by the American Civil Liberties Union.

A few weeks after the former Iraqi leader was captured hiding in a hole in Tikrit, a memorandum was sent to the FBI’s general counsel, Valerie Caproni, discussing whether Saddam would have to be advised of his legal rights.