Executive Action Report: 09/02/2009-09/08/2009

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Wednesday, September 2

  • President Obama will address a joint session of Congress next Wednesday. The address will attempt to build momentum for the President’s health care reform proposals.
  • The State Department announced that former Senator George Mitchell will return to the Middle East next week. Senator Mitchell, the Administration’s special envoy for Mideast peace, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York over the weekend.
  • President Obama will chair a session of the United Nations Security Council focusing on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. The session will concentrate on broad goals rather than specific problems presented by countries like North Korea. This will be the first time a President of the United States has chaired a session of the Council.

Thursday, September 3

  • The Department of Health and Human Services announced the reappointment of John Howard as the coordinator for health issues related to the September 11 Attacks. Mr. Howard served in this capacity from 2006 to 2008, but the Bush Administration chose not to renew his position following disagreements over health policy.
  • The White House announced that President Obama intends to nominate Michael Punke to be U.S. ambassador to the World Trade Organization. Mr. Punke is a novelist and history professor who served as White House director for International Economic Affairs from 1993 to 1995.

    Friday, September 4

    • The White House announced a change in its policy on the release of Secret Service visitor logs. Under the new policy, the White House will voluntarily release the logs after a delay of between 90 to 120 days. The logs will be edited to remove “particularly sensitive” visitors, such as potential Supreme Court nominees. As a result of this new policy, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has agreed to dismiss four lawsuits that sought to compel the release of the records through the Freedom of Information Act.
    • The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that former Attorney General John Ashcroft does not have immunity for claims relating to the Department of Justice’s use of material witness warrants in the wake of the September 11 Attacks. Abdullah al-Kidd is suing Mr. Ashcroft over his sixteen-day detention in 2003.
    • The Office of the Press Secretary released a statement expressing regret at Israel’s decision to approve new settlement construction. President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton had earlier this year called for a settlement freeze as part of ongoing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
    • The White House announced the President has granted ten limited waivers to the Administration’s ethics rules. The waivers allow certain executive branch employees to work on matters that would otherwise violate the conflict-of-interest rules set forth in the President’s Executive Order on ethics.

    Saturday, September 5

    • President Obama used his weekly address to outline plans to improve retirement security for working Americans. The President proposed a number of changes designed to allow individuals to save more money for retirement.

    Sunday, September 6

    • White House advisor Van Jones resigned following controversy over his past statements. Mr. Jones was chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality.

    Monday, September 7

    • President Obama spoke at the AFL-CIO Labor Day Picnic in Cincinnati, Ohio. The President praise organized labor’s contribution to American society, and stressed the importance of pending health reform legislation to working families.

    Tuesday, September 8

    • OpenTheGovernment.Org, a coalition of public interest groups, released a report on government openness. The report contains an assessment of the Obama Administration’s first six months in office. It praises the decision to release the Department of Justice’s memos on torture, but criticizes the decision to oppose the release of torture photographs and the assertion of the state secrets privilege in warrantless wiretapping cases.
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