Friday, September 08, 2006
The Morning Grind
(A first look at today's political news)

  • The President hits the campaign trail today, attending receptions for Michigan Republican Senate Candidate Mike Bouchard in Clarkston, MI, and Missouri Republican Senator Jim Talent in Kansas City.

    The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

    The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

  • The President's decision to move 14 "high-value" detainees to Gitmo was "the result of nearly two years of debate within the Bush White House," reports the Washington Post. "The debate divided the president's key advisers" and was "touched off by a personal plea from British Prime Minister Tony Blair for the release of British citizens in U.S. custody."

  • "It was a terrible error on my part," says former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage in the New York Times today, on being "the primary source who first told a columnist about the intelligence officer at the center of the C.I.A. leak case." Armitage said he wanted to come forward earlier, but stayed silent at the request of Patrick Fitzgerald.

  • "ABC plans to make minor changes" to its controversial "Path to 9/11" docudrama, reports Howard Kurtz in the Post. A network executive said the "'adjustments and refinements' are 'intended to make clearer that it was general indecisiveness' by federal officials that left the country vulnerable to terrorist attacks, 'not any one individual.'"

  • Don't miss Howard Kurtz's interview on the ABC miniseries with Former Clinton Defense Secretary William Cohen on CNN's Reliable Sources, this Sunday at 10 am ET.

  • Also on CNN this Sunday, Wolf Blitzer interviews Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. That's on Late Edition, Sunday at 11 am ET. Wolf's other guests include Senator John Kerry and Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie.

  • Finally, Arnold's candid comments about a "hot" Latina lawmaker caught on tape! The Los Angeles Times obtains a six-minute recording of Schwarzenegger's off-the-cuff remarks in a private meeting with his "inner circle." What else did he say behind closed doors? Find out in Hot Topics below!
    *****

    TERROR DETAINEES' MOVE A LONG TIME COMING: The arrival of the prisoners [at Gitmo], witnessed by few beyond the CIA officers accompanying them, marked the end of a five-year effort by the Bush administration to conceal as many as 100 al-Qaeda suspects from the world and to shield the agency's interrogation tactics and facilities from public scrutiny. It was also the result of nearly two years of debate within the Bush White House, touched off by a personal plea from British Prime Minister Tony Blair for the release of British citizens in U.S. custody. The debate divided the president's key advisers and kept open the CIA's "black sites" until President Bush himself, under the advice of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, ordered the facilities emptied for now, and possibly for good. Washington Post: Decision to Move Detainees Resolved Two-Year Debate Among Bush Advisers

    BUSH WANTS CONGRESS TO GIVE HIM "SOUNDER FOOTING" FOR WIRETAP PROGRAM: President Bush yesterday said the courts are threatening his wiretapping program and called on Congress to pass a law to put the program on sounder footing, but one hour later Senate Democrats blocked an effort to do just that. Mr. Bush, speaking in Atlanta as part of a series of war-on-terror speeches, said his administration has made substantial progress in correcting the mistakes that allowed the September 11 terrorist attacks to happen. Delivering a five-year anniversary report card, the president said the nation boosted domestic security and disrupted terrorist plots through better intelligence and military action abroad. Washington Times: Bush slams court threat to wiretaps

    TRIBUNALS PLAN MET WITH "STIFF RESISTANCE" FROM SOME REPUBLICANS: The Bush administration's proposal to bring leading terrorism suspects before military tribunals met stiff resistance Thursday from key Republicans and top military lawyers who said some provisions would not withstand legal scrutiny or do enough to repair the nation's tarnished reputation internationally. Democrats, meanwhile, said they were inclined to go along with Senate Republicans drafting an alternative to the White House plan, one that would allow defendants more rights. That left Republicans to argue among themselves about what the tribunals would look like and threatened to rob the issue of the political momentum the White House hoped it would provide going into the closely fought midterm elections. New York Times: Lawyers and G.O.P. Chiefs Resist Proposal on Tribunal

    "DISSENSION IN RANKS" THREATENS GOP TERROR STRATEGY: A Republican strategy to push anti- terrorism legislation before November's congressional elections and depict Democrats as weak on national security has been complicated by dissension within the majority party's ranks. The cracks in Republican unity surfaced just days after House and Senate leaders announced plans to seek votes authorizing President George W. Bush's terrorist surveillance program and reconstituting war-crimes tribunals to try suspected al-Qaeda members. "I wouldn't expect Republicans to be monolithic on the subject," said Senator Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of the Judiciary Committee. "I would expect them to have differences." Bloomberg: Republican Terror Strategy Faces Dissension in Ranks

    WH'S "UNIQUE INTERPRETATION OF THE GENEVA CONVENTIONS": Many of the harsh interrogation techniques repudiated by the Pentagon on Wednesday would be made lawful by legislation put forward the same day by the Bush administration. And the courts would be forbidden from intervening. The proposal is in the last 10 pages of an 86-page bill devoted mostly to military commissions, and it is a tangled mix of cross-references and pregnant omissions. But legal experts say it adds up to an apparently unique interpretation of the Geneva Conventions, one that could allow C.I.A. operatives and others to use many of the very techniques disavowed by the Pentagon, including stress positions, sleep deprivation and extreme temperatures. New York Times: Interrogation Methods Rejected by Military Win Bush's Support

    ABC RESPONDS TO FUROR - "MINOR CHANGES" IN FINAL PRODUCT: ABC plans to make minor changes to its docudrama on the run-up to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in response to heated complaints from former Clinton administration officials that a number of scenes are fabricated, a network executive said yesterday. Thomas H. Kean, the Republican who chaired the 9/11 commission and is a co-executive producer of the film, said in an interview that he recently asked for changes that would address complaints raised by the former aides to President Bill Clinton and that ABC is considering his request... The ABC executive said the "adjustments and refinements" are "intended to make clearer that it was general indecisiveness" by federal officials that left the country vulnerable to terrorist attacks, "not any one individual." Washington Post: ABC to Alter Show on Pre-9/11 Run-Up

    SCHOLASTIC CHANGES PLANS FOR STUDY GUIDE: Amid pressure from Democrats, Scholastic Corp. yesterday backed off its plans to distribute learning guides to schools in conjunction with a controversial "docudrama" that is set to air on ABC this weekend... The study guide Scholastic produced and posted on its website for high school students included several politically explosive statements, including a suggestion that former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had a role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Scholastic issued a statement yesterday saying it was removing the materials from its website. Instead, the children's publishing company said it will produce and distribute a new discussion guide that "will focus more specifically on media literacy, critical thinking, and historical background." Boston Globe: ABC's 9/11 film incenses Democrats

    "A TERRIBLE ERROR ON MY PART," SAYS ARMITAGE: Expressing regret for his actions and apologies to his administration colleagues, Richard L. Armitage, the former deputy secretary of state, confirmed Thursday that he was the primary source who first told a columnist about the intelligence officer at the center of the C.I.A. leak case. "It was a terrible error on my part," Mr. Armitage said in an interview, discussing his conversations with reporters. He added: "There wasn't a day when I didn't feel like I had let down the president, the secretary of state, my colleagues, my family and the Wilsons. I value my ability to keep state secrets. This was bad, and I really felt badly about this." New York Times: Source in C.I.A. Leak Case Voices Remorse

    BP EXECS BERATED BY REPS FOR AK LEAKS: Members of Congress blasted BP executives Thursday for failing to prevent two oil leaks in Alaska this year, saying the company ignored signs of pipeline corrosion, cut costs despite record profits and harassed workers who raised concerns... BP executives acknowledged their corrosion-monitoring program was deficient but insisted they were not aware of the crisis until this year... In early August, BP was forced to shut down half its Prudhoe Bay oil field, the largest in the country, after it discovered a small pipeline leak and subsequent tests revealed severe corrosion in the eastern portion of the field. That has halved the field's normal output of 400,000 barrels a day, or 8% of domestic oil supply. USA Today: Congressmen slam BP executives at Alaskan oil leak hearing

    CHAFEE DELAYS BOLTON VOTE... RI REPUBLICAN WANTS MORE TIME: The twisting route toward a formal confirmation vote on John R. Bolton as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations took another unexpected turn yesterday when Senate committee action on the nomination was suddenly put off... Senate officials from both parties said the decision to scrub the vote in the Foreign Relations Committee at the last minute came at the request of Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee, who faces a primary election on Tuesday. Chafee is considered a moderate Republican and has a conservative primary opponent, Stephen P. Laffey, who says the senator too often breaks with party ranks. Sen. Richard G. Lugar, R-Ind., the committee chairman, gave no reason for putting off the vote except that he routinely extended the courtesy of such delays when members requested additional time for considering important issues. He did note that in this instance it had been "a Republican request." Providence Journal-Bulletin: At Chafee's request, Bolton vote delayed

    CANTWELL'S DAM EARMARKS UNDER THE MICROSCOPE: Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell helped arrange more than $11 million in federal money in the past year for projects benefiting clients of a lobbyist who is advising her re-election campaign and still owes her money from a personal loan. Cantwell, a Democrat who is in a tight re-election race, has reported for years that former campaign manager Ron Dotzauer owes her between $15,000 and $50,000 for a personal loan predating her first Senate election in 2000. Dotzauer now runs a lobbying firm... Since last fall, Cantwell has helped persuade Senate appropriators to set aside $9.6 million - known as "earmarks" in congressional parlance - for a dam project benefiting two clients of Dotzauer's firm and $2 million more for the biotechnology company Inologic also represented by his firm. AP via Yahoo! News: Sen. Cantwell helped lobbyist's clients

    EX-REAGAN AIDE MAY AGAIN BE TAKEN TO THE WOODSHED (THIS TIME BY SEC): To old hands in Washington, David A. Stockman will always be the long-haired numbers cruncher who led the cheers for Reaganomics but nearly lost his job for privately denigrating the administration's budget at the same time he sold it to the public. Stockman's trip "to the woodshed" with President Ronald Reagan and his denouncement of the "rosy scenario" of White House fiscal policy helped coin political phrases that linger in the capital's lexicon more than two decades after he left government. Now the man who put one over on Congress could face far more severe consequences for possibly misleading Wall Street. Lawyers at the [SEC] recently notified Stockman that he could face civil charges related to upbeat statements he made to investors two months before an auto parts company he ran sought bankruptcy protection last year. Washington Post: Reagan Aide Stockman Targeted in Fraud Probe

    A TEMPORARY CEASE-FIRE ON THE AIRWAVES MONDAY: Voters weary of campaign advertising will get a reprieve Monday in the political equivalent of a moment of silence. Several candidates say they are pulling their campaign ads for the day to mark the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In Pennsylvania, where Republican Sen. Rick Santorum and Democrat Bob Casey have filled the airwaves in one of the nation's most competitive races, both said Thursday they are pulling down their commercials for the day. Casey "thinks it is a day for remembrance and not for politicking," said Larry Smar, a campaign spokesman. Santorum's campaign press secretary expressed a similar sentiment. AP via Yahoo! News: Candidates pulling ads Monday

    RICHARDSON GOES TO SUDAN TO SECURE REPORTER'S RELEASE: Hoping to return with imprisoned Chicago Tribune correspondent Paul Salopek, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson left Thursday on a plane to Sudan's capital, along with Salopek's wife and Tribune Editor Ann Marie Lipinski. At a news conference in Albuquerque, Richardson told reporters that he would seek to secure Salopek's release on humanitarian grounds when he meets with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in Khartoum. The president formally invited Richardson to come to Sudan, raising hopes for a speedy resolution of the case. Richardson, who was asked by Salopek's wife, Linda Lynch, and Lipinski to assist in winning Salopek's freedom, sounded an optimistic note. "We will return whenever we bring him back," he told reporters. Chicago Tribune: Richardson vows persistence

    LAT OBTAINS ARNOLD'S "CANDID" COMMENTS: In the sanctuary of his Capitol office with an audio recorder rolling, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger describes Republican legislators as the "wild bunch" and, referring to a Latina lawmaker, casually says that "black blood" mixed with "Latino blood" equals "hot" - a fiery personality. The governor is heard on a six-minute recording, obtained by The Times, of a meeting with some members of his inner circle last spring. At the time, Schwarzenegger was struggling to persuade Republican lawmakers to embrace his plan to place billions of dollars in borrowing on the November ballot. Los Angeles Times: Gov.'s Candid Moments Caught on Audiotape

    AUDIO (from LAT)
  • Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 9/08/2006 08:55:00 AM ET | Permalink
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