Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Eric H. Holder Jr., Attorney General

Author: Joanna Klonsky, Associate Editor

President Barack Obama's attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., has criticized some of the Bush administration's counter-terrorism moves, calling for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention center and bans on torture.

See more in Counterterrorism; United States

Defense Spending During Economic Crisis

Author: Greg Bruno

President-elect Barack Obama made many promises on defense spending and strategy during his two-year run for the White House. But analysts say economic constraints and political pressure could make implementation difficult.

See more in Defense Budget; United States

U.S.-Vatican Relations

Authors: Lee Hudson Teslik and Toni Johnson

U.S.-Vatican relations remain uneven following Joseph Ratzinger's accession as Pope Benedict XVI, particularly as the Obama administration pursues a more liberal social agenda.

See more in Religion; United States; Holy See/Vatican