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The Situation: Thursday, October 6

Editor's Note: The Situation Report is a running log of dispatches, quotes, links and behind-the-scenes notes filed by the correspondents and producers of CNN's Washington Bureau. Watch "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer on CNN 3 p.m. ET to 6 p.m. ET weekdays.

The Morning Grind

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President Bush will make a "major speech" on the War on Terror today at the National Endowment for Democracy.

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Posted: 9:00 a.m. ET
From Molly Levinson, CNN Political Unit

Base-ball.

Amid a growing roar of conservatives unhappy with the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, a public rebuke over treatment of detainees from Senator John McCain, the first alleged White House spy in modern history, and rumors that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is close to wrapping up his investigation into the CIA leak, the White House turns to face another issue today: The War on Terror.

President Bush gives a speech to 500 invited guests on the subject of the War on Terror this morning at the National Endowment for Democracy. CNN's Dana Bash reports that Mr. Bush will talk in "very specific detail," "unprecedented detail," about the "very clear strategy" of a "loose network of radicals" determined to drive the U.S. out of Iraq-- to create a "safe haven" to plot attacks against the civilized world. The White House says Bush will talk about the U.S. strategy of "staying on the offensive" and will deal "directly" and "head-on" with those who advocate a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

According to senior officials, the speech was supposed to be given on September 12, however Mr. Bush was in New Orleans dealing with hurricane aftermath. Senior administration officials also told Bash that the speech is, "a very substance-heavy, thoughtful speech with lots of policy." In other words, says Bash, they view or hope that this speech will be a biggie. There's also some hope, we're sure, that they will successfully Change the Subject from worries over Ms. Miers' nomination.

Ms. Miers meets today with one Senator who has worried quite publicly that Miers doesn't fit the bill - Senator Sam Brownback, who has said that there is a "good chance" that he'll vote against her confirmation if she considers Roe v. Wade "settled." She will also meet with Sen. Richard Durbin, who told CNN's John King yesterday on Situation Room that he plans to ask about, "some insight into her view of the broad expanse of the law. Let me just be specific. The right of privacy really goes to the heart of basic personal freedoms. Are there certain areas of our personal and family conduct that of out of bounds for the government, where we should make that decision, as individuals, members of families, married people. That we make these decisions. The government cannot get involved. That, I think, is central to the line of questioning that's important to me."

Headlines tomorrow morning will tell whether Mr. Bush's speech succeeded in assuaging some of the criticisms of the administration from Republican factions including the conservatives, moderates, liberals, socially-conscious, fiscally conscious, pro-War, pro-troop withdrawal timetable, pro-life, anti-abortion, anti Big Government, and the just-plain-ol'-Republicans. Meanwhile, the Democrats continue to keep their hands behind their backs, humming quietly to provide just enough for good background music, but so as not to interfere with or drown out the continuing right-leaning din of disdain.

Meanwhile, some Democrats address the War on Terror as well today with the formation of a new PAC designed to address what a spokesperson admits were "woeful inadequacies" during the 2004 election regarding the party's voice on "national security and defense issues." Rep. Jane Harman has started "SecureUS", which, a spokesperson tells the Grind, has the "goal of improving policy positions and strengthening the voice" of Dems. Fundraising is in initial stages, according to the spokesperson, who also listed the PAC's Advisory Committee members including former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke, Ret. Gen. Claudia Kennedy, pollster Mark Mellman (who has conducted a poll and at least one focus group for the project), Graham Allison, Bob Graham, Gary Hart, William Perry and Bernard Schwartz. The announcement will take place at the National Press Club at 12:30.

Also today, President Bush pays tribute to the National Review magazine and its founder-- William F. Buckley, Jr. Unfortunate timing, given the magazine's not-so-supportive response to Mr. Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court.

FEMA Acting Director David Paulison gives testimony regarding post-hurricane recovery efforts beginning at 9:00 a.m. before the Senate Homeland Security Committee and then later at 2:00 p.m. alongside DHS officials before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.

And House Democrats will talk about dealings that indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff had with various government officials. Reps. George Miller, John Conyers, William Delahunt hold hearings today.

Political Hot Topics

Posted: 8:40 a.m. ET
From Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau

EX-MARINE MAY HAVE SPIED AT THE WH: The Justice Department is investigating whether a naturalized U.S. citizen from the Philippines stole classified documents while he worked in the office of Vice President Cheney and provided the information to opposition politicians in Manila, Bush administration officials said yesterday. The possibility that Leandro Aragoncillo was passing the material while stationed as a U.S. Marine security official at the White House marks a dramatic expansion of the case against him and a former Philippine police official, Michael Ray Aquino. Both were arrested and charged in federal court in Newark last month with sending classified information obtained this year to the Philippines -- more than two years after Aragoncillo left the White House and went to work as an FBI intelligence analyst. Washington Post: Spy Probe Widens to Years Suspect Was at White Houseexternal link

RESULTS OF CIA LEAK PROBE "WITHIN DAYS":
The federal prosecutor investigating who leaked the identity of a CIA operative is expected to signal within days whether he intends to bring indictments in the case, legal sources close to the investigation said on Wednesday. As a first step, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was expected to notify officials by letter if they have become targets, said the lawyers, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Fitzgerald could announce plea agreements, bring indictments, or conclude that no crime was committed. By the end of this month he is expected to wrap up his nearly two-year-old investigation into who leaked CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity. Reuters via Yahoo! News: US officials brace for decisions in CIA leak caseexternal link

"MAJOR" WAR SPEECH COMING TODAY: President Bush is stepping up his defense of his Iraq policy as he faces declining public support for the war and a crucial test in Iraq with the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum. Aides said Bush would take on war critics directly in a speech on Iraq and the broader war on terrorism on Thursday before the National Endowment for Democracy. As of Wednesday, at least 1,941 members of the U.S. military have died since the Iraq war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,513 died as a result of hostile action, according to the military's numbers, including five military civilians. The most recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll showed only 37 percent of Americans approve of Bush's handling of Iraq, with 62 percent disapproving. AP via Yahoo! News: Bush Plans to Take On Iraq War Criticsexternal link

REVOLT ON THE RIGHT: The conservative uprising against President Bush escalated yesterday as Republican activists angry over his nomination of White House counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court confronted the president's envoys during a pair of tense closed-door meetings. A day after Bush publicly beseeched skeptical supporters to trust his judgment on Miers, a succession of prominent conservative leaders told his representatives that they did not. Washington Post: Conservatives Confront Bush Aidesexternal link

"GANG" APPROVES: The Gang of 14's centrist Democratic and Republican senators met and gave preliminary approval yesterday to Harriet Miers as President Bush's nominee to replace Justice Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. Emerging from a meeting at the offices of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said, "This nomination didn't set off any alarm bells with any of us." The Hill: Gang: 'no alarm bells'external link

DID EARLE GO JURY SHOPPING? An attorney for U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay on Wednesday accused prosecutors of engaging in unethical grand jury shopping to obtain criminal charges against the former House majority leader. Travis County District Attorney Ronnie Earle had gotten one grand jury to indict DeLay on Sept. 28 on a charge of conspiring to violate state election laws. Two days later, a second grand jury rejected Earle's attempt to indict DeLay on money laundering charges. But a third grand jury on Monday gave Earle the money laundering indictment he sought. Houston Chronicle: DeLay attorney accuses Earle of jury shoppingexternal link

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