Monday, March 20, 2006

News roundup 03.20.2006


President Bush stated that there is more to Iraq than the violence, transcript.

The New York Times on today's speech:
Mr. Bush also took note of a statement by Senator Biden of Delaware, the senior Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, who said this morning that "we can't want democracy and peace more than the Iraqis."

"I agree," Mr. Bush said, and went to argue that the best way to build democracy there was by declaring "that the United States will never abandon Iraq."

Mr. Biden called for President Bush to make an all-out effort to forge a government of national unity there or get ready for full-scale civil war.
The Washington Post's story on Sunday's talkies included:
As the administration offered optimistic appraisals of the war's progress, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), a frequent administration critic who is weighing a run for president in 2008, echoed Allawi's assessment, saying that Iraq is already in the midst of a "low-grade civil war."

"I think it's important that we stop this talk about we're not going to leave until we achieve victory," Hagel said on ABC's "This Week." "Well, what is victory? We achieved victory: Saddam's gone, the Iraqis have a constitution, they had an election, it's now up to them."
Ron Brownstein in today's Los Angeles Times:
The issue of whether Iraq's sectarian fighting constitutes a civil war has taken on political significance. Polls have shown American support for the Iraq war dropping since the bombing last month of a Shiite shrine in Samarra led to widespread communal violence. Strategists in both parties have said that Bush will have a more difficult time sustaining support for the U.S. military presence in Iraq if the public believes that troops are caught in the middle of a civil war.
The Chicago Tribune:
The notion that a piece of cord could improve his chances in an insurgent attack is illogical, Hussein acknowledged. But the 35-year-old shopkeeper said he had to do something to ward off a suffocating sense of vulnerability, a feeling that seems pervasive among Iraqis these days.

"In 2003 and 2004, I thought the violence would pass and we would be OK," Hussein said. "Now I feel as if this will never end. The situation seems to be only getting worse."
Borzou Daragahi in the Los Angeles Times:
Cold War-like checkpoints and concrete barriers, bursts of machine-gun fire and close encounters with mysterious bands of armed men punctuate the lives of millions of ordinary Iraqis. House by house, neighborhood by neighborhood, province by province — a tour of the streets and roads of Iraq is lined with guideposts pointing to the country's potential disintegration.
Scott Peterson in the Christian Science Monitor:
The grim reality today - and the perception among so many Iraqis that the US is responsible - could not be in sharper contrast from the faith Iraqis once held, that the all-powerful Americans would solve their problems.
Oversight at last?

The Christian Science Monitor:
But behind the headlines, Capitol Hill lawmakers are signaling that 2006 must be a decisive year in the Iraq war - and many of the war's vigorous defenders are looking for guidance outside the Bush administration on how to move ahead.

Exhibit A is the quiet launch of an independent, bipartisan panel to bring "fresh eyes" to the Iraq conflict. Last week, the House included $1.3 million in a defense funding bill for the panel, which will work out of the congressionally chartered US Institute for Peace here.
The Hartford Courant:
House members concede they do not know whether the amounts they approved by an overwhelming vote were bloated or inadequate.

"You really don't know the right amount. You only know what they're trying to do in Iraq," said Rep. Christopher Shays, R-4th District.

"You vote for the bill so the military can have flexibility in fighting the war, but really, how do you ever know anything?" asked Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District.
The A.P. at Balad (pay attention to Balad!):
Are the Americans here to stay? Air Force mechanic Josh Remy is sure of it as he looks around Balad.

"I think we'll be here forever," the 19-year-old airman from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., told a visitor to his base.
Embattled: pun intended

Ibrahim al-Jafari follows Don Rumsfeld with a Washington Post Op-Ed.

Council approved

The Los Angeles Times on the extra-constitutional council to oversee security forces in Iraq:
BAGHDAD — Iraqi officials agreed Sunday to set up a council that would give each of the country's main political factions a voice in making security and economic policies for a new government.
If Ireland has taught us anything, it's that sectarian security formations encourage militias -- on all sides. And, it takes time to undo the mistrust that sectarian security services create.

Wes Clark in New Hampshire

The Manchester Union Leader:
On Iraq, Clark sharply criticized the decision to invade.

“We went to a war we didn’t have to fight and we’ve made so many mistakes there and brought so much misery,” he said, but warned that pulling out now is not an option.
The general has frequently called for neighbors of Iraq to be involved with the administration. Recent overtures to Iran may have been influenced, in part, by Clark's quiet campaigning.

Holy Day

Radio Free Europe on the Holy Day and 10,000 security forces:
PRAGUE, March 20, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are in Karbala today observing one of the most important dates of the Shi'ite Muslim calendar.
Robert Novak

This is a must read from Novak today. What does this sort of nonresponse mean from an embattled administration?:
The White House did not react when Lewis called the president's line-item veto ''a very serious error'' because it would ''change the relationship between the president and the legislative branch.'' Lewis told me he has not been contacted by the president or his agents. Nor was there a presidential reaction to these further indignities:

*At a town hall meeting Wednesday in Silver Spring, Md., Bush rejected a delay in the May 15 deadline to apply for Medicare prescription drug subsidies because ''there's got to be a fixed time for people to sign up.'' Two hours later, the Senate voted 76-22 for a delay.

*On that same Wednesday, the House International Relations Committee overrode Bush's opposition and voted 37-3 to force the president into imposing sanctions on Iran. Even Chairman Henry Hyde, a Bush supporter, changed his mind and ended up voting for this bill.

*To complete the week Thursday, the Senate piled an additional $16 billion on the budget resolution. At the same time, Bush's efforts to slow the growth of mandatory government spending were defeated.

Although there was no sign of the president lobbying to deflect this carnage, he was at the packed ballroom of the Washington Hilton on Thursday night for the House Republican fund-raiser ($2,000 a plate or $5,000 for the reception and a photo with Bush). GOP lawmakers may disdain Bush's policies, but they respect his ability to raise money for their campaigns.
Not a Fein idea

The Washington Times:
Congressional Democrats say Sen. Russell D. Feingold's move to censure President Bush for authorizing warrantless surveillance is a distraction from their quest to take back Congress in the fall.

"Every time we get in a great strategic position, we manage to energize the Republican base," Rep. James P. Moran, Virginia Democrat, told The Washington Times.
Creepy Veep

Dick Cheney's time as co consul, the Philadelphia Inquirer:
WASHINGTON - Most people have never heard of David Addington, but he has been at the center of nearly every controversy shaking the White House.

President Bush's eavesdropping program, the so-called torture memo, the Guantanamo Bay detention center, the administration's penchant for secrecy - all bear his fingerprints. Addington's influence is especially remarkable because he works not for Bush, but rather for Vice President Cheney.

He's known as "Cheney's Cheney." Like his boss, he believes that the Constitution gives the President virtually unlimited power to deal with terrorists and other national security threats. Addington's mission is to provide the legal foundation for the unfettered use of presidential power and quash any internal dissent over it.


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