The Note: Alright Already, We'll All Drone On

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By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )


  • 'OUR FIGHT ENTERS A NEW PHASE': In a wide-ranging speech at the National Defense University, in Washington D.C., on Thursday, President Obama launched a spirited defense of his administration's efforts to pursue terrorists overseas, even while he outlined a more limited path forward in the fight against terror, ABC's ABBY PHILLIP reports. "We are at war with an organization that right now would kill as many Americans as they could if we did not stop them first. So this is a just war - a war waged proportionally, in last resort, and in self-defense," Obama said. "And yet as our fight enters a new phase, America's legitimate claim of self-defense cannot be the end of the discussion." Obama addressed head-on some of his administration's most passionate critics from both the opposite end of the political spectrum and his own party. "These are tough issues and the suggestion that we can gloss over them is wrong," Obama said when a protester repeatedly interrupted his hour-long remarks.
  • AND NOW, A WORD ABOUT DRONES: Obama spoke pointedly about intelligence gathered in Osama bin Laden's compound that proved that al Qaeda operatives knew that drone strikes were working. "Simply put, these strikes have saved lives," Obama said. He also acknowledged that drone strikes have resulted in civilian deaths and, like in any conflict, may have had a negative impact on public perceptions of the U.S. abroad. But Obama said that the strikes, and the civilian casualties that they have resulted in, are preferable to the alternative. "To do nothing in the face of terrorist networks would invite far more civilian casualties," Obama said. "Let us remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes." Obama said that he does not believe the U.S. government can target and kill American citizens without due process, but that American citizenship cannot be used as a "shield."
  • THIS WEEK ON 'THIS WEEK': SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY., goes one-on-one with ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent MARTHA RADDATZ about President Obama's national security speech and the scandals engulfing Washington, Sunday on "This Week." And in a "This Week" exclusive, retired Gen. John Allen speaks out for the first time since being cleared in the Petraeus investigation. Plus, two powerhouse roundtables tackle all the week's politics, including Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and former Director of National Intelligence Ret. Admiral Dennis Blair. And in this week's "Sunday Spotlight," the creators of "Homeland" Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa discuss their hit show. Be sure to use #ThisWeek when you tweet about the program. Tune in Sunday:


ABC's MATTHEW DOWD: We now know the Justice Department has gone after the Associated Press and a reporter with Fox News for what it believes is revealing secrets that put the country at risk. Their premise seems to be: If someone tells the truth, the country will be harmed. I find it ironic that our current president, whom I respect at many levels, was a constitutional law professor just a few years ago. Seriously, if he weren't president today, Professor Obama would be up in arms over the actions of President Obama and his administration. In fact, he was up in arms over similar things involving the administration of President Bush. It seems that when people want to keep and possess power and control, the first victim is openness and a genuine discovery of the truth. Yes, I know there are compromises in governing as well as in our own more intimate relationships. However, if these compromises involve the rationalization that the truth will cause harm and that a sense of loving openness is harmful, then what is it that one is compromising for? Once truth and love are lost along the way, then what really is it that we are protecting? In the end, I believe to err on the side of telling the truth is best, and to have a more open and transparent system will provide a place for trust. We have become such a dysfunctional democracy and the sense of trust in our government is at an all-time low, that the ability to get anything positive done moving into the future is all but impossible.

ABC's SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: The new GOP push by the Republican State Leadership Committee to get more Republican women running for office could have some other benefits for the party. If there are more female candidates then there's less chance of some of the incidents that hurt the Republican Party in 2012 with male candidates like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock making offensive comments about rape and abortion. Ed Gillespie, chairman of the RLSC noted that "women candidates maybe have a better ear for how to talk about some of these issues and the right tone without compromising principles for example on the issue of life, but address them in a way that I think is more resonant with voters and less alienating of women." "There have been times where how the issue was discussed had a negative impact on Republicans up and down the ballot, and I do believe that women candidates have demonstrated a greater ability to talk about the issue in a way that doesn't alienate but is more persuasive and builds by attraction," Gillespie said, answering a question how this program could possibly limit those kind of comments in the next cycle. The initiative "Right Women, Right Now" is being co-chaired by female GOP leaders all over the country including Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi who said the campaign would "spend unprecedented resources to elect a record number of women to state level offices."

ABC's ABBY PHILLIP: Anthony Weiner's nascent mayoral campaign is off to a rough start. Weiner made his candidacy for mayor of New York official in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, and since then there's no indication that the process is going particularly well. The former rising star in the Democratic Party can't shake the scandal that forced him to resign from Congress, and he may be throwing fuel on the fire. Asked yesterday whether there was another shoe to drop in the sextweeting scandal that ousted him, Weiner admitted, Well, yeah. "People may decide that they want to come forward and say here's another email that I got, here's another photograph, but I'm certainly not going to do that," he said on WNYC's Brian Lehrer show. Not to mention that with friends like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who needs enemies? Asked by reporters about Weiner's run for mayor, Cuomo didn't mince words. "So if Anthony Weiner wants to run for mayor, he can run for mayor," Cuomo said. And if he wins? "Shame on us," he added. Tell us how you really feel, governor.


COMING NEXT WEEK - OBAMA AND CHRISTIE, TOGETHER AGAIN: On Tuesday, President Obama will pay a post-holiday weekend visit to see how the Jersey Shore is getting ready for summer, with an emphasis on the need for economic restoration. ABC's ANN COMPTON reports the following from a senior official: "As residents and businesses prepare for a busy summer season, President Obama will visit the Jersey Shore with Governor Christie on Tuesday to view the ongoing recovery efforts after Hurricane Sandy devastated areas of the coastline last fall. The President will speak about the importance of re-igniting and expanding economic opportunity for middle class families who were hard hit by the storm, and meet with business and home owners who have benefited from the recovery efforts. More details on the President's travel to New Jersey will be released when available."

HAPPENING TODAY: President Obama will travel to Annapolis, Md. to deliver the commencement address at the United States Naval Academy. Later, the president will sign a bill designating the Congressional Gold Medal to commemorate the lives of the four young girls who were killed in Birmingham, Alabama at the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing of 1963.

IRS OFFICIAL LOIS LERNER PLACED ON ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE. Congressional and administration sources confirm that IRS director of Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner has been placed on administrative leave after she reportedly refused to resign , ABC's JOHN PARKINSON and JONATHAN KARL report. Lerner came under fire this week when she chose to invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself rather than testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform committee. Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, a senior Republican member of the Finance Committee investigating the IRS, said last night that Lerner "refused to resign." "My understanding is the new acting IRS commissioner asked for Ms. Lerner's resignation, and she refused to resign. She was then put on administrative leave instead," Grassley stated. "The IRS owes it to taxpayers to resolve her situation quickly. The agency needs to move on to fix the conditions that led to the targeting debacle. She shouldn't be in limbo indefinitely on the taxpayers' dime." Earlier today, Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the committee, announced that he believes Lerner waived her right to refuse to testify when she read a statement and authenticated a document for the record during the hearing.

BUDGET CUTS GET PERSONAL. The federal budget sequester may be dampening a rise in economic optimism: Nearly four in 10 Americans now say sequestration has hurt them personally, up substantially since it began in March - and they're far less sanguine than others about the economy's prospects overall, notes ABC News Pollster GARY LANGER. Thirty-seven percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say they've been negatively impacted by the budget cuts, up from 25 percent in March. As previously, about half of those affected say the harm has been "major." Those who are hurt, holler. Among people who report no personal impact of the sequester, 66 percent say economic recovery is under way, and six in 10 are optimistic about the economy's prospects in the year ahead. Among those who report major harm from the cuts, by contrast, just 36 percent see recovery, and optimism drops to 40 percent.

OHIO VOTER FRAUD 'DOES EXIST' BUT 'NOT AN EPIDEMIC'. In what was one of the 2012 election cycle's most important battleground states, "voter fraud does exist," Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted acknowledged in a report on Thursday. "But it is not an epidemic." ABC's GARRETT BRUNO report that Husted, a Republican and the state's chief elections official, said at a news conference and in an accompanying report that based on a survey of all of Ohio's 88 counties conducted in the wake of last November's election, 625 possible voting irregularities were reported across the state and 135 of them have been sent to law enforcement for further investigation. Of the 135 investigated instances of fraud in Ohio, a state where President Obama beat Mitt Romney by some 166,214 votes, 20 of them involved voters who cast ballots in both Ohio and another state and will be referred to the Ohio Attorney General. "Our effort to look into irregularities and root out voter fraud sends a strong message that no amount of fraud is acceptable," Husted said in a statement. "If you cheat, you will be caught and held accountable."

JOE BIDEN'S 'JEOPARDY' CAMEO. Vice President Joe Biden made a cameo appearance on Thursday night's episode of "Jeopardy" by providing video clues to a category about the vice presidency, notes ABC's ARLETTE SAENZ. "Since 1974, the official residence of the vice president has been on the grounds of this astronomical agency of the United States," Biden said. One of the contestants correctly answered, 'What is the Naval Observatory?" The vice president also provided the clue for the "Daily Double." "The vice president is a member of the board of regents of this, 'America's attic,'" Biden said. The question: What is the Smithsonian? Biden recited clues about former vice presidents John Adams, John Tyler and John C. Calhoun.


"CAN A POLARIZED AMERICA HELP OBAMACARE?" by the Cook Political Report's Amy Walter. In America the Polarized, almost every issue is viewed through a partisan lens. The most recent trio of troubles to hit the White House-IRS, Benghazi, and DOJ-has elicited predictably partisan feelings. According to an ABC/Washington Post poll released this week, 74 percent of Republicans believe that the GOP-led investigation into the attacks on an American consulate in Libya is legitimate, while 71 percent of Democrats see this as nothing but political opportunism. A Pew poll finds that Republicans are paying much closer attention to all three of these issues than Democrats. This is nothing new. That same Pew poll showed that Democrats were much more interested than Republicans in the decision by George W. Bush to commute the prison sentence of former Vice President Cheney aide Scooter Libby. The question now is whether this deep-seated polarization may help Democrats survive what many expect to be a rocky roll-out of Obamacare in 2014. As I wrote last month, there are plenty of Democrats who are worried that Obamacare will be a big drag on the party in 2014. The public-especially traditional Democratic voters like young people and Latinos-remains woefully uneducated about the law. Democrats are also a bit more ambivalent about the law than Republicans who almost universally dislike it. The most recent Kaiser Family Foundation tracking survey found 85 percent of Republicans view the law unfavorably compared to 57 percent of Democrats who view the law favorably. This suggests that a bad experience with the health care law in 2014 could turn even partisan Democrats against it-or at the very least do nothing to make them feel good about it. Republicans, meanwhile, are likely to remain opposed to the law as long as President Obama is in office. That scenario suggests big electoral problems in 2014 for Democrats."


@carolynryan: "He wasn't going with prostitutes. He wasn't going out with little boys." - What Charlie Rangel said about Weiner

?@DavidMDrucker: About Senate Dems, student loans & #immigration reform: … h/t @meredithshiner

?@PounderFile: WaPo Editorial: "Why did the IRS stay silent?"

?@Chris_Moody: Terry McAuliffe's brother was once arrested while protesting against an abortion clinic. #VAGov

@adamslily: Many congrats to everyone's favorite "buddy" @ScottMulhauser on his new gig at the Export-Import bank