Twenty-five years after Ronald Reagan's historic speech at the fortified barrier which divided Communist East Berlin from free West Berlin, one moment stands out - Reagan's challenge to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev: "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."
What's not as well-remembered is that at the time, that line of the speech was considered by many in the U.S. government to be a risky taunt - even a provocation - to the Soviets.
Those of us who were on that trip and covered the speech were told by administration insiders that Colin Powell, then the deputy national security adviser, and White House Chief of Staff Howard Baker both advised against using such direct language. But the president decided that he wanted the line in, and it remained in the speech - classic Ronald Reagan.
Remembering Reagan's "Tear Down This Wall" speech 25 years later
At the time, Reagan's job approval ratings were in a trough. They had dropped below 50 percent by late 1986 after the Iran-Contra scandal, when the nation learned that the administration had sold arms to Iran and used the money to illegally fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.Continue »
The legacy of President Richard Nixon is one of history's most documented. Today, four months after a judge ordered the release of Nixon's grand jury testimony in the Watergate cover-up trial, the transcript was made public.
Throughout his two-day session with the attorneys in June 1975, the former president is reluctant, wary of entrapment, sometimes impatient, occasionally self-pitying -- but always insistent that he acted responsibly.
Among the subjects covered, the infamous 18 1/2 minute gap in an Oval Office tape recording of a conversation between the president and his chief of staff Bob Haldeman three days after the break-in at the Watergate headquarters of the Democratic Party.
The former president says he "practically blew my stack" when he learned of the gap - not so much because of the missing information as the fact that the prosecutors even had the tape.Continue »
White House press spokesperson Amy Brundage says that the president "does not believe that Social Security is a driver of our near and medium term deficits," and that he's asking both parties to work together to strengthen the system.
In his discussions with House Speaker John Boehner this past summer about raising the debt ceiling, one of the possibilities the president discussed was changing the formula by which Social Security payments are increased for inflation. Using what's called the Chained Consumer Price Index rather than the standard CPI would result in slightly lower increases for inflation because the Chained CPI assumes that if prices rise, consumers will buy cheaper products.Continue »
Protests in front of the White House are nothing new in Washington - but the protesters are not usually members of Congress. But today, twenty-one freshman Republicans lined up on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the Executive Mansion in 90 degree plus heat to express their outrage that President Obama has not presented a formal plan for cutting the deficit.
"We're here to do the work and we're asking the president put it in writing, let's debate it, let's be honest with the American people, let's get through this debt crisis and this debt ceiling crisis and do something for America for generations," said Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y.
One by one, each of the new members voiced appeals directly into news cameras, orating as though they were in the well of the House - and all making the same accusation: the president has failed to respond to their letter asking him to come forward with a detailed plan that reduces the national debt and addresses entitlement reform.Continue »
As information from the operation targeting Osama bin Laden flowed into the Situation Room on Sunday afternoon, President Obama exclaimed "We got him," based on what he was hearing and seeing, according to a senior administration official.
One official heard a commander on scene say "Geronimo E-KIA." Geronimo was the code name for Bin Laden; E-KIA is "enemy killed in action."Continue »
Updated 10:20 a.m. ET
A new CBS News-Knowledge Networks Poll shows President Obama's approval rating among people who voted for him in 2008 remains very strong, at 82 percent, but that will do little to help Democrats hold onto seats in Congress on November 2.
CBS News senior White House correspondent Bill Plante reports that, for the White House, keeping control of the House and Senate is all about getting Democrats and Independents who voted for the president in 2008 back to the polls, and on that score, the latest poll numbers show Mr. Obama hasn't closed the sale.
Only two-thirds of Obama voters in 2008 (67 percent) say they'll vote for one of his fellow Democrats in 2010. Eight percent of those voters say they will vote Republican this year, and 21 percent say it depends.
The biggest erosion of support is among independents; just 42 percent of Obama's 2008 independent voters say they'll support a Democrat this year. Twelve percent say they'll vote for a Republican, and 38 percent were still undecided.
But we're told their one-on-one meeting lasted for about 30 minutes. So here's the question the White House isn't answering: if the president was already thinking about McChrystal's replacement, what did the two men discuss for half an hour?
Did McChrystal make an argument to keep his job? Was the president reluctant to fire him?
So far, at least, the usual suspects among White House officialdom aren't saying. And maybe they don't know. They weren't in the room.
It wasn't until after his meeting with McChrystal that the president called in his top National Security advisers: Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen, National Security Adviser James Jones and Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel. The president told them that he intended to appoint General Petraeus to take over in Afghanistan.
White House officials are spinning the new U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran as a 1-2-3 punch - the U.N. action, followed by a European Union meeting next week at which they expect the Europeans to come up with additional sanctions for their governments to act on - and finally, new unilateral U.S. sanctions.
But critics have jumped on the latest U.N. action - this is the fourth round of sanctions -- as weak and riddled with loopholes because it had to be watered down to get the support of U.N. Security Council members Russia and China.
President Obama hailed the latest U.N. sanctions as "the toughest ever faced by the Iranian government," and said the vote "demonstrates the growing costs that will come with Iranian intransigence."
Highlights of the new sanctions package include: a ban on the sale of heavy weapons and ballistic missile capabilities to Iran; an asset freeze on additional companies linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guard; a call on nations to block financial transactions if there are grounds to believe they contribute to Iranian nuclear activities; and a committee of experts to monitor compliance with the sanctions.
Intense, that is, until a reporter John Gizzi's cell phone began chiming one of those vaguely familiar ring tones which have become this era's elevator music.
Spokesman Robert Gibbs looked up and said, "just put it on vibrate man. We did this before...it happened twice one day."