TIME Military

New Defense Secretary, Same Old Strategy

Obama Announces Resignation Of Chuck Hagel As Defense Secretary
President Obama listens as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announces he is resigning after less than two years as defense chief. Alex Wong / Getty Images

Hagel's sudden departure fixes the wrong problem—the lack of a clear, achievable ISIS strategy

Last week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel declared that the U.S. war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria was on track. “There’s no official review of any of the decisions that the President has made, or strategy,” Hagel told Charlie Rose.

This week, he’s out of his Pentagon job, even as the same old Obama Anti-ISIS Express continues barreling down that track.

So how much change can be expected following Hagel’s announcement Monday that he is leaving the Defense Department’s top civilian post after 20 months? Or, by handing Hagel his walking papers, is President Obama now suggesting his ISIS strategy is fine?

Washington immediately began debating the reasons for Hagel’s surprising departure. Obama supporters argued that Hagel’s low-key demeanor made him a good choice two years ago, when the issues were winding down wars and budget cuts, but ill-fitted to the offensive U.S. military push ISIS now needs. His backers blamed an insular National Security staff that shut him out of key decisions that led to bad blood between the White House and Pentagon.

Current and former Obama Administration officials say the problem was more policy than personnel. The roots of the problem, they say, are closer to the Oval Office—involving close-hold decision-making by Obama, Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough and National Security Adviser Susan Rice—than at the Pentagon.

“Not sure what kind of Kool-Aid they are drinking if they think that getting rid of Hagel—and not the National Security Advisor who’s flailing to handle the [ISIS] problem—is going to make things better,” one former Obama Administration official says.

Hagel’s leaving “is not an obvious fix for what seems to be ailing the administration,” says Peter Feaver, a civil-military relations expert at Duke University. When President George W. Bush eased out Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in 2006 (also following a White House drubbing in midterm elections), it included changing strategy by sending a surge of U.S. troops into Iraq.

“But there doesn’t seem to be any interest in the Obama administration to change the strategy,” Feaver adds. “What we have here is a change in personnel, without a change in policy.”

Retired Army general Jack Keane, who advocated for the surge in Iraq, says the White House has meddled with Pentagon prerogatives as the ISIS threat has grown over the past year, including videotaped beheadings of five Westerners, three of them American. “The policy is wrong and Hagel was pushing back on it,” Keane says, confirming what some Pentagon officials say privately.

Defense officials say White House meetings on dealing with ISIS often ended without a decision, which would be made later by Obama, aided by National Security Advisor Susan Rice and her deputy, Ben Rhodes. “That’s very frustrating for a secretary of defense,” Keane adds, “who feels on the outside when it comes to issues that are in their domain.”

Rice has long been a target inside the administration, even as she garnered sympathy as a Congressional scapegoat in the post-Benghazi hullaballoo. “The problems reach much higher than the secretary of defense,” a second Obama national-security aide said.

Much of Capitol Hill concurs. “The President needs to realize that the real source of his current failures on national security more often lie with his Administration’s misguided policies and the role played by his White House in devising and implementing them,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said. He’s the likely next chairman of the Armed Services Committee, which will confirm Hagel’s successor. “That is the real change we need right now,” McCain said in a statement.

Hagel fought for a tougher approach in Syria, and wrote a recent memo to Rice calling for more clarity about dictator Bashar Assad’s fate. Assad’s continued hold on power has bedeviled U.S. strategy toward ISIS, which is one of several rebel groups seeking to overthrown him. “Hagel had been a bit more hawkish on Syria,” Feaver says. “Perhaps replacing him is an indication that the President’s not going to be moving in a more hawkish direction there.”

Fat chance. Republican lawmakers are making clear following Hagel’s announcement that they want a new strategy for dealing with ISIS, as well as a new secretary of Defense.

– With reporting by Zeke Miller

TIME People

Woman Who Got Cosby Money Orders Says They Were Just ‘Generosity’

Former NBC employee says he regularly brought women to Cosby's dressing room

A former NBC employee has shown NBC News receipts for money orders that he says he sent to women at Bill Cosby’s direction.

Frank Scotti, now 90, says he also regularly brought women to Cosby’s dressing room. He told Kate Snow in an interview that aired on TODAY Monday that the job made him feel “like a pimp.”

But one of the women whose name appears on several money orders says the gifts were purely the product of Cosby’s “generosity” and were intended to help pay for her son’s boarding school…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Crime

Ferguson Grand Jury Reaches Highly Anticipated Decision

A protester holds his hands in the air outside the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson
A protester holds his hands in the air outside the Ferguson Police Department in Ferguson, Missouri, November 24, 2014. Jim Young—Reuters

Announcement expected Monday evening

RA grand jury in Missouri has reached a decision on whether to indict Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson in August, a lawyer for the Brown family said Monday.

The prosecutor overseeing the case planned an announcement later in the day, but he gave no indication what it would be.

Benjamin Crump, the lawyer, said Monday afternoon that the family had been notified. He told MSNBC that the family was “praying for an indictment, and they’re trying to put their faith in the justice system.”

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Infectious Disease

Salmonella in 10 States Linked to Raw Sprouts

(WASHINGTON) — Raw sprouts are linked to dozens of cases of food poisoning — again.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 63 people from 10 states concentrated on the East Coast fell ill with salmonella linked to bean sprouts from a supplier in New York City. The CDC says the supplier, Wonton Foods Inc. of Brooklyn, has agreed to stop production for now.

The outbreak is one of three recently linked to raw sprouts. Two listeria deaths and three listeria illnesses were linked to consumption of mung bean sprouts in the Midwest over the summer, and 19 E. coli illnesses were linked to raw clover sprouts in mostly Western states in May.

Raw sprouts are a frequent culprit in foodborne illness because of the moist, warm conditions in which they are grown; there have been more than 30 outbreaks associated with different types of raw and lightly cooked sprouts since the mid-1990s. Federal regulators have warned against eating them at all, advising consumers to always cook them thoroughly and to ask that raw sprouts be left off their plate at restaurants.

The CDC said that 78 percent of those interviewed in the current outbreak reported eating bean sprouts or items containing bean sprouts in the week before they became sick. The CDC and Food and Drug Administration found that Wonton Foods was a supplier to many of the restaurants where those who became sick had eaten.

Wonton Foods “has verbally agreed to voluntarily stop the production and sale of their bean sprouts while they take steps to prevent Salmonella contamination,” the CDC said.

A person answering the phone at Wonton Foods said the company had no comment and declined to give their name.

The illnesses were reported from the end of September to the beginning of November, according to the CDC. People were sickened in 10 states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The one ill person from Montana likely became ill on a trip to the East Coast, the CDC said.

Salmonella illness usually develops 12 to 72 hours after infection and can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. The illness lasts around 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.

TIME weather

Thanksgiving Travel Will Be Snarled by Snow

Bad Weather Driving
Dan Barnes—Getty Images

Roads north and west of I-95 will likely be blanketed by snow Wednesday night, and the National Weather Service says the New York area could see 6 to 10 in. of snow. Travelers should expect clogged roads and airport delays up and down the east coast into Thursday

Hate to break it to you, but if you are traveling anywhere on the East Coast this Thanksgiving, you may have a tough road ahead of you. Snow and ice is expected from New England to Georgia on Wednesday, which promises to snarl traffic on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

According to the Weather Channel, roads north and west of I-95 are likely to be blanketed by snow Wednesday night, and the National Weather Service says the New York area could see 6-10 inches of snow. Travelers should expect clogged roads and airport delays all up and down the eastern seaboard from Wednesday into Thursday morning.

Four-wheel drive is always something to be thankful for.

TIME Crime

Photos: Tension Mounts in Ferguson as Protesters Wait for the Grand Jury

Greater St. Louis filled with protests ahead of Thanksgiving as community members, demonstrators and law enforcement waited for the grand jury to announce whether Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson would be indicted in the fatal shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown

TIME Culture

Meet 10 Famous Artists Who Won the Medal of Freedom

On Monday, President Barack Obama will award Meryl Streep, Stevie Wonder, and Tom Brokaw the 2014 Medal of Freedom. Take a look at past years' famous winners

TIME Immigration

Latinos, Young Voters Applaud Obama Action On Immigration, Polls Show

Immigrants Rally To Thank Obama
Nov. 21, 2014 - Washington, District of Columbia, U.S. - Hundreds of Latino activists and families gather outside of the White House the day after Obama's immigration executive order in Washington on Nov. 21, 2014. Oliver Contreras—Zuma Press

Latino voters of both parties blame Congressional Republicans for failing to pass an immigration reform bill

The vast majority of Latinos and voters under the age of 35 support President Barack Obama’s executive action last Thursday shielding between 4 and 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, according to new national polls.

The overwhelming support from these two growing demographics may have major implications for voter turnout and party affiliation in 2016.

Almost 90% of Latino voters say they “support” or “strongly support” Obama’s executive action, according to a national poll by Latino Decisions and commissioned by two pro-immigration reform groups, Presente.org and Mi Familia Vota.

Nearly three-fourths (72%) of voters under the age of 35 supported the president’s action, according to a national poll by Hart Research Associates [PDF].

While both Latinos and young voters showed particularly strong support, 67% of all voters—both men and women from states that supported both Obama and Mitt Romney in 2012—felt favorably toward the executive action, according to the Hart Research poll. More than two-thirds of all voters were in favor of allowing the undocumented parents of children or young adults to stay in the U.S., and of providing temporary work permits to eligible immigrants.

Both polls found that voters believe Obama’s executive action is lawful. Respondents strongly disagreed with strategies, suggested by some Republicans, to fight the action: 72% of voters opposed the idea of Republicans shutting down the government until the president agrees to end the executive action, according to the Hart Research poll. (62% of Tea Party Republicans were in favor of that strategy.) Four out of five Latino voters opposed the idea of Republicans passing a bill to defund a federal program issuing work permits to undocumented workers, according to the Latino Decisions poll.

Latino support for the executive action appears to be largely bipartisan, according to Latino Decisions. While 95% of Democratic Latino voters were in favor of the executive action, 76% of Republican Latinos were as well. The issue of immigration reform remains deeply personal for many Latino voters, 64% of whom have friends, family members, coworkers, or acquaintances who are undocumented.

Sixty-four percent of Latino voters blamed Congressional Republicans for failing to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill; 24% blame Obama and Democrats, according to the Latino Decisions poll.

Insofar as Latino voters were disappointed by Obama’s executive action, the reason seems to be that it didn’t go far enough. Two-thirds (66%) of Latinos said that Obama should use additional executive orders to shield from deportation those undocumented immigrations who were not covered by last Thursday’s action, which covers only those who have not committed a crime, lived here five or more years, and are either parents of a U.S. citizen or legal resident child here in the U.S. The action does not grant them citizenship, but it does allow them to get legal work permits.

The Latino Decisions poll included 405 Latinos randomly selected from a nationwide database of registered voters. Its margin of error is +/- 4.9%. The Hart Research Associates poll surveyed 800 likely 2016 voters and had a margin of error of +/-3.5%.

TIME tragedy

Ticket Waived for Teen Who Dozed at Wheel in Fatal Car Wreck

Five of his family members were killed in the accident

A ticket will be waived for a teen who dozed off at the wheel, causing a car crash that took the lives of five of his family members.

The Texas teen, whose name has not been released, said he fell asleep at the wheel of his family’s car around 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The family was driving through Louisiana at the time, on their way to Disney World in Florida for Thanksgiving.

The car hit the median and ultimately flipped, causing six of the eight people in the car to be ejected from the vehicle. Five of those family members died. They included parents Michael and Trudi Hardman, and kids Dakota Watson, 15, Kaci Hardman, 4, and Adam Hardman, 7.

The driver was initially issued a ticket for the accident, but that was then waived. “This young man has been punished enough,” Louisiana Fourth Judicial District Attorney Jerry Jones said, The News Star reports. “There is no need to add to his pain. The ticket will be dismissed.”

[The News Star]

TIME Crime

Ferguson Grand Jury Evidence May Not Be Released After All

Ferguson
Demonstrators block a busy intersection while protesting the August shooting of Michael Brown on Nov. 23, 2014, in St. Louis. David Goldman—AP

A circuit judge may not unseal evidence without an indictment

If a St. Louis County grand jury does not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, evidence in the case may never be made public, despite promises from the prosecutor.

According to a letter from a St. Louis court administrator, the St. Louis County circuit court judge presiding over the case has not agreed to release evidence currently being considered by the grand jury, which was convened to decide whether to charge Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager.

St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCullough has repeatedly stated that he would obtain a court order to unseal grand jury evidence, an unusual step that was seen as an attempt to defuse potential anger over the decision. In a St. Louis Post-Dispatch story on Nov. 23, St. Louis County Court Administrator Paul Fox said Judge Carolyn Whittington had agreed to grant the request.

But Fox described the paraphrased quote attributed to him as “not accurate,” in a letter released after the story, and said Whittington had not made an agreement to release grand jury evidence and that any requests “will require the Court to analyze the need for maintaining secrecy of the records with the need for public disclosure of the records.”

(MORE: Cop in Ferguson Shooting Gets Married)

On Monday the grand jury reconvened to determine whether to formally charge Wilson for the shooting, which sparked weeks of riots and protests in the St. Louis suburb and reignited the debate over race, privilege and police conduct in the U.S. A decision is expected soon.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser