JUDY WOODRUFF: Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced she will resign later this month and not seek re-election next year. Palin was the Republican vice presidential nominee last year, and there has been speculation she might run for president in 2012.
Today, at her home in Wasilla, Alaska, Palin said she’s stepping down now, in part because ethics complaints and political attacks on her are hurting the state.
GOV. SARAH PALIN, Alaska: My choice is to take a stand and effect change, and not just hit our head against the wall and watch valuable state time and money — millions of your dollars — go down the drain in this new political environment.
Rather, we know we can effect positive change outside government at this moment in time on another scale and actually make a difference for our priorities. And so we will, for Alaskans and for Americans.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Palin also cited criticism aimed at her children. Her resignation takes effect on July 26. Alaska’s lieutenant governor, Sean Parnell, will become governor.
We get more now from Lori Tipton of KTUU, the NBC affiliate in Anchorage. She was in Wasilla for the governor’s press conference today.
Lori, thanks for joining us. The governor gave a number of reasons for this. What are you hearing?
LORI TIPTON, KTUU: Well, you had mentioned the reasons that she gave was she wanted to spend more time focusing on doing things for Alaska and the country as a whole. And some people here in Alaska are speculating whether or not this is a political move for the future for maybe the national stage. Like she had said, she wants to do some of the things that she’s not able to as governor because of the limitations and all of the opposition.
But some see this as political career suicide. One local pollster here said today that he thinks that if she is trying to do anything else political, that this may have really hurt her.
JUDY WOODRUFF: We’ve also heard, Lori, one report here that she’s decided to end her career in politics. Are you hearing any of that there?
LORI TIPTON: I spoke with a close family friend, and she didn’t really have a comment on that. She said that, right now, it seems like the family is just, you know, taking it step by step. And they made no mention to her that there would be, you know, a political move or for her just to lay low for a while.
JUDY WOODRUFF: When the governor talks about millions of dollars down the drain, is she talking about federal money? What was she referring to there?
LORI TIPTON: I think she was talking about the ethics complaints. There have been, I think, 15 different ethics complaints over the past nine months, and it’s been all sorts of things, from her holding a fish in a photograph to her wearing a specific jacket at a snow machine competition.
And, of course, none of those proved to be worthy of an ethics violation, but she said that it’s really just taking up a lot of taxpayers’ dollars. And her staff is spending more time battling those than working on progressing the state, and so she said it’s just time to stop that.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Very quickly, what sort of reaction are you picking up from ordinary Alaskans?
LORI TIPTON: I think Alaskans are just ready to see what is next, you know, what is next for the governor, what is next for our state. There was a lot of opposition this past session down in Juneau between Governor Sarah Palin and a lot of the lawmakers. So I think it will be interesting to see how this next session goes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Lori Tipton with KTUU in Anchorage, thank you very much.
To Pakistan now, where officials reported U.S. drone aircraft attacked Taliban targets, killing 17 people. The missiles hit a training facility and communications center run by the leader of the Pakistani Taliban in South Waziristan, near the Afghan border.
The strikes came as Janet Napolitano, the U.S. secretary of homeland security, visited Pakistan. She met with the country’s president and prime minister in Islamabad.
Iran turned up the pressure today on two employees of the British embassy in Tehran, both native Iranians. They’re accused of fomenting violent protests after the disputed presidential election. We have a report narrated by Jonathan Rugman of Independent Television News.
JONATHAN RUGMAN: It’s Friday prayers and, amid chants of “Death to America,” a senior cleric close to Iran’s supreme leader is apparently playing to the crowd. Ayatollah Jannati accuses Britain of fomenting revolution, and he warns that British embassy employees will now be put on trial.
AYATOLLAH AHMAD JANNATI, Guardian Council of Iran (through translator): Some people were arrested. Well, inevitably, they will be put on trial. They have made confessions, too. Do you expect that by staging a street riot after the election that the government would be toppled and a government chosen by you would take over? Your idiocy and stupidity is really limitless.
JONATHAN RUGMAN: While the protests which began last month have largely died away, Iran’s war of words against Britain has intensified, and two British embassy staff are now caught up in Iran’s official narrative, that Britain is responsible for the past few weeks of internal unrest.
Back on Sunday, E.U. foreign ministers threatened a collective response and today saw the first signs of action. Iranian ambassadors were called into foreign ministries in protest, and an official complaint could be delivered to Tehran tomorrow.
France’s president said today he offered his British friends “total solidarity,” and it’s understood that all E.U. ambassadors could leave Tehran in protest if the British embassy staff are not released by the end of next week.
JUDY WOODRUFF: And in Iraq, Vice President Biden’s visit to Baghdad was protested by hundreds of supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, a radical Shiite cleric. They yelled anti-U.S. slogans and burned American flags.
Inside the secured Green Zone, Mr. Biden met with Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki. He said the U.S. is ready to help Iraqis work out their political differences.
Back in the U.S., tough economic times slowed travel ahead of the Fourth of July holiday. President Obama stayed close to home, traveling to the presidential retreat at Camp David, Maryland. He was joined by family and friends.
One of the holiday’s main highlights will be in New York, where the observation deck in the Statue of Liberty’s crown is reopening to visitors. It was closed after the 9/11 attacks.