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The Morning Grind / DayAhead

Piercing the fog of war

Senate intelligence chiefs feel heat over Iraq prison photos

By Steve Turnham
CNN

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A hooded and wired Iraqi prisoner is shown at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, Iraq, in this undated photo.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The images of naked Iraqi prisoners being tormented at the Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad not only have shocked the public but also have come as an unwelcome surprise to members of Congress who are supposed to be watching over the intelligence community.

"At no time did the administration inform the House Intelligence Committee about [Maj. Gen. Antonio] Taguba's report of February 2004," complained Rep. Jane Harman, the ranking House Intelligence Committee Democrat, referring to a report that first laid out the allegations.

"As of yesterday, the report was still 'working its way up' the chain of command to senior Pentagon leaders," Harman said. "This is highly disturbing and raises questions about how seriously the administration and the White House were taking these allegations."

On the Senate floor, New Mexico Democrat Jeff Bingaman zeroed in on Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said Sunday that he has not yet seen the report.

"For the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to handle this matter in this way and indicate that in May he has personally not seen the report but he assumes it's working its way up the chain of command, that demonstrates to me ... that the humane treatment of prisoners is not a priority for our military in Iraq," Bingaman said. "It's unacceptable."

On Tuesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee were to receive a briefing on the Abu Ghraib scandal from the Army inspector general, Lt. Gen. Paul Mikolashek, and others.

Congressional committees have been criticized in recent weeks for lax oversight of the intelligence community.

A senior Senate intelligence source said the committee had been aware of the incidents, but nothing indicated such behavior was widespread and that it appeared to be confined to a few "idiots" in the ranks.

But Sen. John Warner, chairman of the Senate panel, called for hearings on the matter Tuesday, requesting that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld testify.

Knight moves?

With congressional Democrats beginning to zero in on Abu Ghraib, the Senate's No. 2 Republican took Sen. John Kerry to task for calling for a U.N. takeover in Iraq.

"The U.N. is not a blue-helmeted knight here to slay the dragons of aggression and evil," said Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. "When the stakes are high and the threat of violence real, the U.N. is too often helpless in the face of danger."

McConnell ticked through some permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, including China, Russia, and yes, France, with different and competing interests than the United States as well as nations in the General Assembly.

"Does Sen. Kerry really want to give these nations a say in Iraq's future? Does he expect them to share America's interest in a free and stable Iraq, even though a democratic Iraq would undermine their own authoritarian rule? Why do some American politicians want the fox to guard the henhouse?"

The breakfast club

President Bush embarks Tuesday on Day Two of his "Yes, America Can" tour with a number of stops in battleground Ohio. The president will serve up pancakes and coffee to about 1,000 supporters in Maumee, just outside Toledo. He then heads to Dayton for an "Ask President Bush" Q&A session and later delivers remarks in Lebanon at the Golden Lamb Hotel, which calls itself "Ohio's Oldest Inn."

According to hotel officials, Bush will be the 12th president to visit the Golden Lamb. (Ronald Reagan visited in 1980 when he was a candidate; Warren Harding was the last president to sleep there.) The president will end the day in Cincinnati. Tuesday marks Bush's 16th trip to Ohio as president. Monday's Michigan swing was his 13th in office.

Kerry's dog day afternoon

The Kerry campaign was bound for Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Monday afternoon, the first stop in a weeklong campaign jaunt across these United States, but things got off to a slow start thanks in large part to the overworked snout of one rookie bomb-sniffing dog at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

The K-9 in question was new to the bomb-sniffing beat after only a month on the job and was unable to get a thorough whiff of every bag in the Kerry traveling press corps. In the dog's defense, an explosive ordnance detection team, complete with a veteran four-legged bomb sniffer, was supposed to examine the press luggage, but it was accidentally sent to Dulles International Airport and not to Reagan National.

The rookie sniffer sniffed until it could sniff no more but proved no match for the dozens of pieces of press luggage and camera equipment. Eventually, the detection team arrived at Reagan National, and the Kerry plane was soon on its way, albeit 45 minutes late. Neither dog was available for comment.

Once in Minnesota, the presumptive nominee, perhaps feeling particularly presumptive this day, checked into the presidential suite in the Minneapolis Hilton before raising another $1 million for his campaign at yet another fund-raiser with singer-songwriter Carole King.

Later Tuesday, Kerry will kick off his three-day education tour in New Mexico and California. New Mexico, in addition to being one of about 17 crucial battleground states, is also home to prospective vice presidential candidate Gov. Bill Richardson. (Play CNN.com's Veepstakes game)

Although Richardson aide Billy Sparks said the governor's schedule is "still fluid," a Kerry aide said that the senator and the former energy secretary would indeed share some private time together. Whether that's in the form of a full-blown sit-down meeting or just in a limo ride between events remains to be seen.

CNN's Sasha Johnson and Robert Yoon contributed to this report.


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