Friday, September 08, 2006
Bill creating 'Google-like' federal spending database heading towards passage


Now that the blogosphere has revealed the "secret senator," bloggers are claiming another victory after a bill authorizing a Google-like database of public spending passed the Senate.

Late Thursday, the senators passed the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act by unanimous consent after holds from "secret senator" Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Sen. Robert Byrd, D-West Virginia, were lifted.

Senate tradition allows a senator to place a hold on legislation, preventing it from reaching the floor.

When liberal and conservative bloggers learned that a "secret hold" had been placed on the bill, they urged readers to join in the hunt to reveal which senator was behind it. Web sites like Porkbusters.org and TPMmuckraker.com eventually uncovered holds on the bill placed by Stevens and Byrd. (Full story)

News of the bill's passage was received triumphantly in the blogosphere, and one of the bill's orginal co-sponsors, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, credited "the army of bloggers and concerned citizens" for their victory.

Coburn and the bill's other original co-sponsor, Sen. Barak Obama, D-Illinois, said they had reached agreement with sponsors of the House version, which was passed in June. The House could take up the new language as early as next week.
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/08/2006 07:24:00 PM ET | Permalink
The Situation Online: Chafee Web site hacked?


Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI)

Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee's campaign Web site was hacked yesterday and offline for most of the morning before being restored. Chafee's campaign says that while the FBI is investigating, the attack was not politically motivated. On Tuesday, Chafee will be facing off against Stephen Laffey in a hotly-contested Republican Senate primary. Last month, Sen. Joseph Lieberman's campaign Web site was taken offline on the eve of the Connecticut Democratic primary, where he was defeated by Ned Lamont. Federal and state officials are investigating the circumstances surrounding the Lieberman Web site as well.
Posted By The Situation Online Producers: 9/08/2006 05:48:00 PM ET | Permalink
Red Cross fined $4.2 million over blood safety
(CNN) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has levied a $4.2 million fine against the American Red Cross, saying it has failed to comply with laws and regulations relating to the collection of blood products, the FDA said in a
written statement Friday.

The violations included failing to ask appropriate donor screening questions and failure to follow manufacturer test protocols, the FDA said. The agency said it has no evidence that the violations resulted in "serious health consequences." (Full story)

The fine stems from a recent FDA review of Red Cross recalls between 2003 and 2005, the FDA said. The review found "these events were preventable."
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/08/2006 03:33:00 PM ET | Permalink
Iranian bank denied access to U.S. financial system
(CNN) -- The Bush administration has cut off Iran's sizable Bank Saderat from "all access to the U.S. financial system, direct or indirect," the Treasury Department announced Friday.

The department said the bank, which has about 3,400 branch offices, uses the bank "to transfer money to terrorist organizations" -- as deemed by the U.S. government -- such as Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

"Bank Saderat facilitates Iran's transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars to Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations each year," said Stuart Levey, undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. "We will no longer allow a bank like Saderat to do business in the American financial system."

Iranian financial institutions are already prohibited from directly accessing the U.S. financial system, but can typically do so indirectly by working through third-country banks. By early next week, when the amendment is formally filed, Saderat will not be able to carry out such "U-turn transactions," the Treasury Department said.
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/08/2006 02:25:00 PM ET | Permalink
Poll: Americans expect 'gridlock' if Dems take Congress
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Americans foresee "more gridlock" if Democrats take over the Senate or House of Representatives this fall, a CNN poll shows, with 70 percent of respondents saying they'd expect stalemate.

The survey indicates that a majority of Americans -- 57 percent of respondents -- would favor a Democratic Congress probing the White House's actions. But 69 percent oppose impeaching President Bush.

The results are based on telephone interviews with 1,004 adult Americans conducted between August 30 and September 2 by Opinion Research Corporation.
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/08/2006 02:10:00 PM ET | Permalink
Prosecutors: Memory experts useless in Libby case


Lewis Libby is the only person charged in the CIA leak probe.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A memory expert's testimony would offer little use to a jury deciding whether Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide lied to a grand jury and investigators, according to a motion filed late Thursday by prosecutors.

Lewis "Scooter" Libby is accused of misleading authorities about his knowledge of Valerie Plame, a CIA operative whose husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, openly questioned a basis for the 2003 Iraq invasion. Libby has pleaded not guilty, and the trial is set to begin in January 2007.

In his motion, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald said "no special circumstances warrant the admission of expert testimony on memory." Libby's lawyers should use cross-examination of witnesses and jury instructions to address memory issues, the filing said.

Defense attorneys plan to file a rebuttal next week, a Libby source said Friday.
Posted By Paul Courson, CNN Washington Bureau: 9/08/2006 01:39:00 PM ET | Permalink
Armitage admits leaking Plame's identity


Richard Armitage told CBS: "I feel terrible" about revealing Valerie Plame's identity.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage regretfully acknowledged Thursday that he inadvertently revealed the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame to columnist Robert Novak in 2003, touching off a federal probe.

"I feel terrible," Armitage told CBS Evening News. "Every day, I think I let down the president. I let down the secretary of state. I let down my department, my family. And I also let down Mr. and Mrs. Wilson." (Full story)

In a column published on July 14, 2003, Novak, citing two senior administration officials, noted that Plame was a CIA operative. The column was primarily about Plame's husband, Joe Wilson, a former career diplomat and critic of the intelligence underlying the invasion of Iraq.

Novak never revealed the original source -- Armitage, who served under Secretary of State Colin Powell between 2001 and 2005. But he did confirm that President Bush's chief political strategist, Karl Rove, confirmed the confirmation and was the second source.

-- CNN's John King and Brian Todd contributed to this report.
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/08/2006 11:59:00 AM ET | Permalink
Ex-Iranian president touts talks, defends nuclear program


Mohammad Khatami said Iran is making progress on the road to democracy.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami stressed dialogue as key to addressing contentious world issues, including his country's nuclear program, in remarks Thursday at Washington's National Cathedral.

Khatami insisted Iran's nuclear program -- begun during his tenure -- was developed for benign purposes, not to develop weapons. The nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Iran has signed, ensures member nations the right to develop peaceful nuclear technology, he added. (Full story)

The former president called negotiations on the issue "the best recourse," saying China, Russia and France have all expressed interest in talks without preconditions.

Noting long-held tensions between Iran and the United States -- which he is visiting for two weeks -- Khatami said relations between the two should center on peace, not war.

"Before we can talk ... we have to eliminate the language of threat," said Khatami, who is not meeting with U.S. government officials on this trip.
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/08/2006 11:48:00 AM ET | Permalink
Dems criticize, ABC defends 'Path to 9/11'
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former President Bill Clinton -- echoing senior officials and advisers from his administration -- called for ABC to "tell the truth" in an upcoming miniseries about the events leading up to the September 11, 2001, attacks.

Critics have said "The Path to 9/11," set to air Sunday and Monday, includes "fictitious" and even "false and defamatory" scenes of how the Clinton administration responded to the terror threat. (Full story)

The ABC network has rejected the criticism, saying the film was not a documentary and was still being edited.

But Thomas H. Kean, the Republican who chaired the bipartisan 9/11 commission and who has been a consultant to the film, said he requested changes to address complaints by former Clinton aides, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

The Post quoted an ABC executive as saying Thursday that the network plans to make minor changes.
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/08/2006 11:42:00 AM ET | Permalink
Man with suspicious items in car detained at Pentagon
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Police at the Pentagon detained an unidentified man Thursday after finding suspicious items in the man's Chevrolet Suburban.

After police became suspicious and contacted the SUV's driver, he came out of the car and was put in custody, a police spokesman said. While initially mentioning "an item like a detonator," Pentagon Police did not identify the suspicious items.
Posted By Mike Mount, CNN Pentagon Bureau: 9/08/2006 11:30:00 AM ET | Permalink
Senate committee to release Iraq intelligence reports


U.S. soldiers patrol Baghdad.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate Intelligence Committee will release two of five long-delayed reports Friday on how the Bush administration built its case for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the committee's leaders announced.

One report will cover how intelligence agencies used information provided by the Iraqi National Congress, a U.S.-backed exile group that funneled reports on Iraqi weapons programs to American officials. The other will compare the results of a post-invasion survey of Iraqi weapons programs with pre-war assessments.

The probes follow a July 2004 report that blamed the CIA and other intelligence agencies for purveying the mistaken belief that Iraq had restarted its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.

Democrats have complained the committee's investigation has taken too long. Last November, they invoked a rarely used Senate rule that cleared the chamber of everyone but legislators and a few top aides to discuss the matter -- a controversial move that ended with a renewed pledge to complete the probe.

Republicans counter that a Pentagon inspector-general is still investigating the Defense Department's Office of Special Plans, a group that analyzed intelligence and reported to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld prior to the invasion.
Posted By CNN's Congressional Unit: 9/08/2006 10:55:00 AM ET | Permalink
Federal judge refuses to dismiss NSA surveillance case
(CNN) -- The Bush administration suffered another legal setback Thursday when a federal judge in Oregon refused to dismiss a lawsuit against the NSA's domestic eavesdropping program.

Despite the government's insistence, U.S. District Judge Garr King said he is not persuaded proceeding with the case would harm national security.

The Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, which the government declared a terrorist organization and froze its assets, brought the case. The Islamic group alleges the warrantless international surveillance program targeted some of its top officials.

The government promptly expressed disappointment with the ruling. "This case should be dismissed as a result of the state secrets implicated by plaintiffs' claims," said Justice Department spokeswoman Gina Talamona.
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/08/2006 10:43:00 AM ET | Permalink
Phillips focus of manhunt, day after making FBI 'Top 10'
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Suspected police killer Ralph B. "Buck" Phillips joined the ranks of Osama bin Laden and an alleged drug kingpin, child rapist and armed robber with his inclusion Thursday on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives List." (Full story)

Phillips escaped April 2 from the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden, New York, by prying open a roof vent in the prison's kitchen. He is wanted in connection to a June 10 shooting of a New York state trooper in Chemung County, as well as the August 31 shooting death of another state trooper (and wounding of a third) in Chautauqua County.

But Phillips may not be on the list for long. Authorities converged Friday near Allegany State Park, along the New York-Pennsylvania state line, after reports the fugitive had been spotted. (Full story)

Phillips -- a 6-foot-tall, 44-year-old Native American with black hair and brown eyes -- replaces polygamist Warren Jeffs, captured last week in Las Vegas, on the list. (Full story)
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/08/2006 10:31:00 AM ET | Permalink
Bush to make prime time speech on 9/11
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush will address the nation on national television Monday night, the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks, the White House said.

The speech, scheduled at 9 p.m. ET, is expected to last between 15 and 18 minutes, the White House said Friday.
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/08/2006 10:23:00 AM ET | Permalink
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
    Thursday, September 07, 2006
    The Situation Online: 9/11 miniseries, Fray refund


    Harvey Keitel plays FBI anti-terrorism expert John O'Neill in "The Path to 9/11."

    9/11 miniseries: a teaching tool?
    ABC's two-part miniseries, "The Path to 9/11", scheduled to air this weekend, is receiving harsh criticism over its accuracy from Democrats, liberal bloggers, and former White House officials. This afternoon, Scholastic ended their partnership with ABC and pulled from its Web site the teaching materials intended to coincide with the release of the film, saying the original documents failed to meet the company's "high standards for dealing with controversial issues". Click here to read what Scholastic wrote to 25,000 teachers when it released its original materials, now unavailable online. Scholastic plans to release new 9/11 discussion materials tomorrow to help high school students focus on critical thinking and media literacy skills.

    A million little refunds?
    Author James Frey has reached an agreement with his publisher Random House that will reimburse readers of "A Million Little Pieces" who purchased the book on or before January 26 and believed they were reading a non-fictional memoir. If consumers don't have the original receipt, the publisher says, page 163 of the hardcover or the front cover of the paperback will suffice as proof of purchase. Details of the refund will likely be posted on the Random House Web site after final court approval of the agreement, which could take weeks or even months.

    After Frey was exposed by the Smoking Gun Web site for making up parts of his memoir, Frey was publicly berated by Oprah Winfrey, who had previously praised "A Million Little Pieces" as part of her elite book club.

    Political Web wars
    What would the world look like a year from now if Democrats controlled Congress? That's the subject of a new satirical Web site just launched by the Republican National Committee in which taxes are up and Democrats hold impeachment hearings for President Bush. Today the National Republican Senatorial Committee takes aim at the Democratic challenger in the Ohio Senate race. As November midterm elections quickly approach, Democrats are launching their own assault: this week the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is launching three new websites targeting Republican candidates, and plan to launch dozens more in the upcoming weeks. Meantime, parties on both sides continue to offer voters online networking and fundraising tools including Democratic National Committee's Party Builder and the RNC's MyGOP.

    Watch "The Situation Room" at 4:00 PM, 5:00 PM, and 7:00 PM, ET for these stories and more from our Internet reporters.
    Posted By The Situation Online Producers: 9/07/2006 04:51:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Obscure Senate rule stalls NSA wiretap bill


    Sen. Russ Feingold ardently opposes Sen. Arlen Specter's legislation.

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold employed an obscure Senate rule Thursday to temporarily stymie a compromise bill aimed at formally authorizing the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretap program.

    The Wisconsin senator requested a rule requiring committees -- in this case, the Judiciary Committee -- to end their work two hours after the Senate floor is gaveled to order unless allow them to work beyond that.

    Agitated, the committee's Republican chair, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, blamed Democratic "obstructionism" and threatened to move to the Senate floor without the committee's consent or schedule the next committee vote much earlier in the morning.

    GOP lawmakers are pushing hard to pass terrorism and other security-related bills ahead of the November election. Specter's bill would allow the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to review the wire tap program's constitutionality.

    But an aide to Feingold pointed out that at least three Republicans signed a letter to Specter on Wednesday asking that he postpone consideration of his bill so more hearings can be held.
    Posted By Ted Barrett, CNN Congressional Unit: 9/07/2006 03:52:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Despite discomfort, Rumsfeld set for Pentagon return Friday
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is expected to return to the Pentagon on Friday, three days after undergoing minor rotator cuff surgery, his spokesman said.

    After spending Tuesday night in the hospital, Rumsfeld had planned to be in the office Wednesday. But discomfort from the operation kept him home then and Thursday.

    The secretary, who is taking pain medication, continues to work from home, his spokesman said. But due to a backed-up workload, he had to cancel two interviews regarding the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
    Posted By Mike Mount, CNN Pentagon Bureau: 9/07/2006 03:05:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Topping the House agenda: Horse slaughtering
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- After five weeks off, the House of Representatives returned to business Thursday to tackle pressing, significant issues -- chief among them, horse slaughtering, much to the chagrin of Democrats and Republicans alike.

    With only 15 legislative days left in the session, some fumed that Congress was spending time on a bill that would shut down three foreign-owned slaughterhouses operating in the United States. The House passed the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, 263-146, sending it to the Senate. (Full story)

    "People are ticked off about the beat-a-dead-horse bill we're doing today," Arizona Rep. Jeff Flake said after a closed-door meeting of House Republicans. "A lot of people are upset."

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, chided Republicans for spending time on the issue the same week of the five-year September 11 anniversary and with U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other matters."
    Posted By CNN's Congressional Unit: 9/07/2006 02:49:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Navy to posthumously honor 2 SEALs killed in Afghanistan


    Danny Dietz was one of several men killed during a firefight in the Afghan mountains last summer.

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two Navy SEALs will posthumously earn the Navy Cross next week in recognition of their actions during a firefight last summer in eastern Afghanistan, the Navy announced.

    Sonar Technician 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson and Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz, both SEALs, were killed by enemy forces June 28, 2005, during a reconnaissance mission in mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan.

    According to the Navy, four SEALs engaged a large Taliban force and called in reinforcements. An MH-47 Chinook helicopter carrying reinforcements was shot down by a rocket propelled grenade, killing all 16 men aboard. Axelson and Dietz held their position and fought the Taliban, allowing one of the other SEALs to escape.

    The Navy will present the Navy Crosses to Axelson and Dietz's families on Wednesday. Only 20 such awards -- second only to the Medal of Honor in recognition of bravery on the battlefield -- have been awarded since the start of the war in Afghanistan.
    Posted By Larry Shaughnessy, CNN Pentagon Bureau: 9/07/2006 02:06:00 PM ET | Permalink
    No 'steel-cage, grudge match' between Bush, Ahmadinejad


    President Ahmadinejad has called for an "uncensored" televised debate with President Bush.

    (CNN) -- President Bush and his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, may find themselves in the same place later this month, but a White House official shot down the prospect that the two men would engage one another, face-to-face.

    The Iranian president may visit New York as part of the United Nations' annual gathering of world leaders. President Bush himself attended and -- like Ahmadinejad -- spoke at the U.N. last year.

    Ahmadinejad himself has taken steps to engage the president, sending him a letter earlier this year and, late last month, calling for a "direct television debate" between the leaders. Iran and the United States have been at odds over the former's nuclear program -- which Tehran calls peaceful and legal, and which Washington deems illegal and a dangerous threat -- among other matters. (Full story)

    But White House spokesman Tony Snow, addressing reporters aboard Air Force One on Thursday, said that such a meeting would not happen during Ahmadinejad's U.S. visit.

    "There's not going to be a steel-case, grudge match between the [U.S.] president and Ahmadinejad," Snow said, noting that Ahmadinejad's invite would be standard U.N. practice. "The president will deliver his speech, and at some other juncture President Ahmadinejad, if the [U.N.] General Assembly so decides, will speak."
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/07/2006 01:34:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Senator: No Thursday committee vote on Bolton


    Ambassador John Bolton was installed temporarily last August, while Congress was in recess.

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard Lugar announced at the top of the committee's meeting Thursday that the panel will not vote Thursday on the nomination of John Bolton to be ambassador to the United Nations.

    Lugar said he removed the nomination from Thursday's agenda after "conferring with several senators." He did not elaborate. (Full story)

    Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a liberal Rhode Island Republican facing a tough re-election fight, asked for the delay because he is "not satisfied" with Bolton's answers on the Middle East, the senator's spokesman said.

    Chafee detailed his concerns in a letter sent Thursday to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, spokesman Stephan Hourahan told CNN, adding that the senator "needs more time" to get the answers before deciding how to vote.

    Committee aides had anticipated a party-line vote in the committee, in which Republicans hold a 10-8 majority. A vote by Chafee against Bolton would lead to a 9-9 tie.
    Posted By Ted Barrett, CNN Congressional Unit: 9/07/2006 12:06:00 PM ET | Permalink
    BP execs grilled by lawmakers
    (CNNMoney.com) -- Executives from BP faced tough questioning from lawmakers Thursday for the company's failure to prevent a major Alaskan pipeline from getting crippled by corrosion. (Full story)

    A hearing before a House panel began with a browbeating from Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, chairman of the House and Energy Commerce Committee.

    "Years of neglecting to inspect the most important oil-gathering pipeline in this country is not acceptable," he said at the hearing held by the committee's investigations and oversight panel.

    Prudhoe Bay is of major importance to the United States, generating 400,000 barrels of oil a day, or about 8 percent of the country's domestic oil production, when it's fully operating. BP cut production in half at the field in half in August after inspections revealed severe corrosion.

    Members of the subcommittee lambasted the company for failing to send a vehicle through any of its pipelines to look for internal corrosion more recently than 1992. Subcommittee members contrasted BP's lack of maintenance with the Trans-Alaska pipeline, where such inspections are conducted every three years.
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/07/2006 12:00:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Poll: Giuliani, Clinton early 2008 favorites
    (CNN) -- Democrats favor Sen. Hillary Clinton while Republicans lean toward former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, according to a CNN poll released Thursday. (Full story)

    Former Vice President Al Gore placed second, 17 percentage points behind the former first lady, with 20 percent, in the Democratic poll. Asked if they would only vote for a candidate who opposed the Iraq war at its inception in 2003, 56 percent of Democrats said no, and 41 percent said yes. (View the complete poll results for all potential GOP and Democratic candidates -- PDF)

    Thirty-one percent of the 432 poll respondents who identified themselves as Republicans chose Giuliani from a list of potential 2008 nominees, according to the survey conducted by Opinion Research Corp. on behalf of CNN. The next closest choices were Sen. John McCain of Arizona, with 20 percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, with 12 percent.
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/07/2006 11:44:00 AM ET | Permalink
    GOP holds up Rumsfeld no-confidence vote
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Senate shot down an attempt by Democrats to bring a vote of no confidence in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to the floor Wednesday. (Full story)

    The resolution, which Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, first proposed and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, introduced, was offered as an amendment to the Defense Department appropriations bill.

    But before the resolution saw a vote, Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, used a procedural move to kill the resolution because it was not pertinent to the Pentagon spending measures being considered.

    For days, Democrats promoted the resolution as a significant political move against Rumsfeld and the administration's Iraq policies. But President Bush has staunchly supported the embattled secretary, while other Republican supporters of Rumsfeld called the Democratic move a political stunt.
    Posted By CNN's Congressional Unit: 9/07/2006 11:26:00 AM ET | Permalink
    The Morning Grind
    (A first look at today's political news)

  • The President is in the Peach State today, where he'll deliver another speech on the Global War on Terror at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta. CNN will carry the remarks live at 10:20 am ET. At 2:05 pm ET, he'll attend a Max Burns for Congress Reception at The Mighty Eighth Air Force Heritage Center in Pooler, GA.

  • At 10 am ET, the House Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing "on standards of military commissions and tribunals," featuring, among other witnesses, the Judge Advocate Generals of the Army and Navy, and Deputy Judge Advocate General of the Air Force.

  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on John Bolton's nomination to continue as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Bloomberg reports Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-Rhode Island) may play a spoiler... if he votes against Bolton, the committee will be split 9-9.

    The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

    The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

  • Some House Republicans aren't giving up on immigration, reports the Washington Times, and will try to put a border security bill on the President's desk by November. This despite the fact that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee) said yesterday it would be "next to impossible" to approve "such comprehensive immigration reform."

  • Several Clinton Administration officials have "launched a preemptive strike" against ABC's "Path to 9/11," charging inaccuracies in the docudrama, which includes "composite scenes." Madeleine Albright calls one scene featuring her "false and defamatory," reports Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post. President Clinton himself is "furious," reports the New York Post.

  • "In Hollywood, they call it an air kiss..." So says the Los Angeles Times of Joe Lieberman's lunch meeting with Democrats yesterday, where his colleagues tried to "embrace" him "without actually touching" him. No awkwardness here, right? His old Senate buddies "deftly ignoring the reality that most of them now consider him politically radioactive."

  • And Tom DeLay launches an unusual GOTV effort... for a reality show candidate! Why is "Dancing With the Star's" Sara Evans getting the Hammer's strong endorsement? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    *****

    BUSH ACKNOWLEDGES SECRET PRISONS, SENDS 14 "HIGH-VALUE" DETAINEES TO GITMO: President Bush said Wednesday that 14 high-profile terror suspects held secretly until now by the Central Intelligence Agency -- including the man accused of masterminding the Sept. 11 attacks -- had been transferred to the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to face military tribunals if Congress approves. The suspects include Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, thought to be the Sept. 11 mastermind, and other close associates of Osama bin Laden. Mr. Bush said he had decided to "bring them into the open" after years in which the C.I.A. held them without charges in undisclosed sites abroad, in a program the White House had not previously acknowledged. The announcement, in the East Room of the White House, was the first time the president had discussed the secret C.I.A. program, and he made clear that he had fully authorized it. New York Times: President Moves 14 Held in Secret to Guantánamo

    GRAHAM, WARNER, McCAIN CRITICIZE BUSH PLAN FOR TRIBUNALS: President Bush's long-awaited plan for military commissions to try foreign terrorist suspects was criticized Wednesday by fellow Republicans who said the proposal, which omits many of the usual safeguards of a military trial, doesn't go far enough to protect prisoners. "I do not think we can afford to again cut legal corners that will result in federal court rejection of our work product," said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who with fellow Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and John Warner of Virginia has been most critical of the president's position on tribunals. The three senators expressed optimism about a compromise. Warner, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he hoped to introduce a bipartisan bill soon and said Congress could pass a bill before members go home to campaign for the Nov. 7 election. USA Today: 3 Republican senators among critics of military tribunal plan

    DOD EMBRACES INTL. "HUMANE TREATMENT STANDARDS" FOR ALL DETAINEES: Pentagon officials yesterday repudiated the harsh interrogation tactics adopted since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, specifically forbidding U.S. troops from using forced nudity, hooding, military dogs and waterboarding to elicit information from detainees captured in ongoing wars. The Defense Department simultaneously embraced international humane treatment standards for all detainees in U.S. military custody, the first time there has been a uniform standard for both enemy prisoners of war and the so-called unlawful combatants linked to al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorist organizations. In a new department-wide directive on detention policy and a retooled Army field manual on interrogations, Pentagon officials demonstrated a dramatic shift in the way they view the treatment of detainees, and tacitly acknowledged the failures that led to allegations of abuse in U.S. facilities in Iraq, Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Washington Post: New Rules of Interrogation Forbid Use of Harsh Tactics

    REPUBLICANS BLOCK VOTE ON RUMSFELD: Senate Democrats failed Wednesday to force a vote on a resolution calling for the dismissal of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld after an extended debate that served as a proxy for a partisan clash over the war in Iraq. Republicans blocked the proposal, which called for President Bush to replace Mr. Rumsfeld as an acknowledgment that the administration sees a need to change strategy in Iraq. They accused Democrats of a political assault on a man they credited with capably running the war effort and advising President Bush... Democrats, who entered the fight expecting to be denied a vote, used the opportunity to castigate Mr. Rumsfeld not only for what they said was gross mismanagement of the Iraq effort, but also for what they said were ugly attacks on his critics. New York Times: Democrats Force a Debate, but Can't Get a Vote on Rumsfeld

    HOUSE GOP WILL MAKE "FINAL PUSH" ON NEW IMMIGRATION LAWS: House Republicans will make a final push to get border-security legislation on President Bush's desk before November's elections, senior aides told The Washington Times yesterday. Top Republicans are planning a series of tough new border-security measures that they hope can get through the Senate, which in the past has opposed border-security legislation unless it has included a guest-worker program and grants citizenship rights to the estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens already here. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, said yesterday it would be "next to impossible" to approve such comprehensive immigration reform, but several key senators said they are willing to consider a border-security-only approach. Washington Times: Border security on tap for GOP

    ANGRY CLINTON OFFICIALS WRITE TO DISNEY CHIEF OVER "PATH TO 9/11": Top officials of the Clinton administration have launched a preemptive strike against an ABC-TV "docudrama," slated to air Sunday and Monday, that they say includes made-up scenes depicting them as undermining attempts to kill Osama bin Laden. Former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright called one scene involving her "false and defamatory." Former national security adviser Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger said the film "flagrantly misrepresents my personal actions." And former White House aide Bruce R. Lindsey, who now heads the William J. Clinton Foundation, said: "It is unconscionable to mislead the American public about one of the most horrendous tragedies our country has ever known."... The former Clinton aides voiced their objections in letters to Robert A. Iger, chief executive of ABC's corporate parent, the Walt Disney Co., but the network refused to make changes or to give them advance copies of the movie. Washington Post: Clinton Administration Officials Assail ABC's 'The Path to 9/11'

    CLINTON HIMSELF IS "FURIOUS": A furious Bill Clinton is warning ABC that its mini-series "The Path to 9/11" grossly misrepresents his pursuit of Osama bin Laden - and he is demanding the network "pull the drama" if changes aren't made. Clinton pointedly refuted several fictionalized scenes that he claims insinuate he was too distracted by the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal to care about bin Laden and that a top adviser pulled the plug on CIA operatives who were just moments away from bagging the terror master, according to a letter to ABC boss Bob Iger obtained by The Post. New York Post: BUBBA GOES BALLISTIC ON ABC
    ABOUT ITS DAMNING 9/11 MOVIE


    2/3 OF NEW YORKERS REMAIN "VERY CONCERNED" ABOUT AN ATTACK: Five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, two-thirds of New Yorkers say they are still "very concerned" about another attack on their city, a level of apprehension only slightly reduced from the fall of 2001, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News polls of the nation and New York City. Nearly a third of New Yorkers said they thought about Sept. 11 every day. Nearly a third said that they had not gone back to pre-Sept. 11 routines and that they were still dealing with changes caused by the attacks. Outside New York, however, Americans, in many ways, have adjusted to the "new normal" of the post-Sept. 11 era, the national survey suggests. New York Times: 9/11 Polls Find Lingering Fears in New York City

    CHAFEE COULD BE A SPOILER FOR BOLTON: Republicans and Democrats will be watching Senator Lincoln Chafee as the Senate Foreign Relations Committee votes today on John Bolton's nomination to continue as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Chafee, a Rhode Island Republican, "has not said how he's going to vote," spokesman Stephen Hourahan said yesterday. A Chafee vote against Bolton, 57, would probably mean a 9-9 committee split on the panel, which has 10 Republicans and eight Democrats. It may also signal that Republicans don't have the 60 votes needed in the full Senate to overcome an effort by Democrats to block his nomination. "I don't know how the vote's going to go," said Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican and a member of the committee who supports Bolton. Bloomberg: Chafee Vote May Signal Success or Failure on Bolton Nomination

    IL'S EX-GOV RYAN GETS 6.5 YRS: George Ryan, the Republican governor whose bold clearing of Death Row won international praise but whose old-style political ways led to a sweeping federal corruption conviction, was sentenced Wednesday to 6 1/2 years in prison on what he acknowledged was the saddest day of his life. In court, Ryan, a former pharmacist from Kankakee, struggled briefly with his emotions as he delivered the closest thing yet to an apology. Ryan, however, carefully avoided admitting criminal wrongdoing. The former governor told the judge he deeply regretted that his conviction caused a loss of faith in government, saying, "When they elected me as governor of this state, they expected better, and I let them down, and for that I apologize." Chicago Tribune: Ryan gets 6 1/2 years

    JESSE JACKSON JR. MAY LAUNCH WINDY CITY MAYOR BID: Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. announced Wednesday that he is exploring a run for mayor of Chicago and said it is "more likely than not" that he will enter the February contest. While he complimented Mayor Richard Daley, a fellow Democrat, for doing an "extraordinary" job in some ways, Jackson said: "What I'm hearing from the people is that it's time for a change." The 41-year-old son of civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson said he would make up his mind after the November congressional election. He is up for re-election to the seat he has held for 11 years. AP via Yahoo! News: Jesse Jackson Jr. may run for mayor

    NO AWKWARDNESS HERE... LIEBERMAN GETS "WARM" RECEPTION ON THE HILL: Joe Lieberman was welcomed back with warm applause from Democratic colleagues, despite the uncomfortable reality that most of them pledged to support Ned Lamont after Lamont won the Aug. 8 Democratic primary ... Lieberman's only public appearance, other than to cast votes, was a brief stop in the hall outside the Senate Democrats' weekly policy luncheon, where he was mobbed by three dozen reporters. Lieberman emerged from the closed-door luncheon emphasizing his unity with fellow Democrats. When the caucus talked about the upcoming debate on a port security bill, he reported, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada turned to him and said, "Glad you're here." Democratic Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., said that the 40 or so Democrats in the room remained seated and gave Lieberman what he called a "warm ovation." Sen. Blanche L. Lincoln, D-Ark., came over and said, "I'm not going to settle for a handshake; I want a big hug." Hartford Courant: Joe & Ned Seek Support Inside The Beltway

    NOT SO GENUINE, SAYS LAT: If it's possible to embrace someone without actually touching them, that's what his used-to-be friends in the Senate did. In Hollywood, they call it an air kiss. "It's great to be back... glad to be here," a smiling Lieberman said, heading to a luncheon with fellow Senate Democrats, whochatted and chortled with him while deftly ignoring the reality that most of them now consider him politically radioactive. Los Angeles Times: Democrats Act Out an Episode of 'Everyone Loves Lieberman'

    LAMONT MENTIONS THE "SECDEF LIEBERMAN" RUMOR: Since Senator Joseph I. Lieberman lost last month's Democratic primary in Connecticut, a rumor has gained new life -- particularly among his liberal critics -- that President Bush might nominate him to replace Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, should Mr. Rumsfeld be ousted as many Democrats have demanded. Mr. Lieberman, now running as an independent, has denied any interest in the job, and the White House has said it stands behind Mr. Rumsfeld. But that did not stop Ned Lamont, the primary victor, from alluding to the rumor on Wednesday to criticize Mr. Lieberman's support for the war in Iraq. "It doesn't matter if Donald Rumsfeld retires and somebody who thinks just like him goes into place," Mr. Lamont said at a Sperling Breakfast here, named for the journalist who started the gatherings years ago. New York Times: Leery of 'Defense Secretary Lieberman'

    DeLAY BACKS "DANCING" CANDIDATE: Supporters of former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) should be happy to hear that he's still out there rallying the Republican masses. Though this time, not for any politician but for -- we kid you not -- a contestant on the reality show "Dancing With the Stars." The fallen House Majority Leader sent an e-mail Wednesday to his vast network of friends and associates asking them to watch the show, which begins next week, and vote for his country singer friend Sara Evans. DeLay's solicitation - in which he asked only for votes, not money - is part of an orchestrated GOP effort to get out the vote for Evans, a longtime Republican supporter. (She sang at the 2004 GOP convention and her husband, Craig Schelske, ran unsuccessfully for Congress in Oregon in 2002.) Roll Call: Dancing With DeLay
  • Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 9/07/2006 08:56:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Wednesday, September 06, 2006
    The Situation Online: New Army Field Manual


    A military guard checks on a prisoner in a Guantanamo Bay maximum security cell.

    After more than a year and amid accusations of torture, the Department of Defense just published an updated version of its Army Field Manual on prisoner interrogation techniques. This is the first update of the manual since 1992 (PDF). The Pentagon says the manual reaffirms it's commitment to treat detainees humanely. The new manual, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, specifies new appropriate and inappropriate interrogation methods not previously stated, including a ban on forced nudity and sex acts, hoods or duct tape on eyes, beatings, electric shock, and other forms of torture previously accused of inflicting upon detainees. (Read the complete manual here.)
    Posted By The Situation Online Producers: 9/06/2006 05:00:00 PM ET | Permalink
    The Morning Grind
    (A first look at today's political news)

  • The President meets with his Cabinet this morning at 9:30 am ET and will deliver another speech on the Global War on Terror this afternoon at 1:45 pm ET. CNN will carry his remarks live.

  • On the Hill today, Dems are planning to push for a no-confidence vote on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

    The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

    The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

  • The Florida Governor's race takes shape with Democratic Congressman Jim Davis and Republican Attorney General Charlie Crist each winning their party's nominations. Katherine Harris easily "breezed" to victory in the state's GOP Senate primary.

  • Despite a lack of progress in D.C. on an immigration plan, the issue is "really popping" on the campaign trail, says a Republican strategist in the New York Times.

  • USA Today reports third party candidates are threatening to play spoilers in "at least 10 Senate and six gubernatorial elections that are potentially competitive, as well as a host of House races."

  • "Stay the hell out of southern Arizona," says one GOP House candidate to the National Republican Congressional Committee. In a crowded Republican primary in Arizona, the candidates want the national party to stay out of the race. Why? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    *****

    BUSH QUOTES BIN LADEN, ZAWAHIRI, NASRALLAH IN TERROR REMARKS: President Bush issued a stern warning yesterday about what he called the continuing terrorist threat confronting the nation, using the haunting words of Islamic extremists to support his assertion that they remain determined to attack the United States. Abandoning his practice of only rarely mentioning al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Bush repeatedly quoted him and purported terrorist letters, recordings and documents to make his case that terrorists have broad totalitarian ambitions and believe the war in Iraq is a key theater in a wider struggle... In his speech, Bush said terrorist leaders' statements have made plain their goals, which he called the present-day equivalent of the "evil" aims of Vladimir Lenin and Adolf Hitler. "Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. The question is: Will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say?" Bush said, adding that "we're taking the words of the enemy seriously." Washington Post: Bush Warns Of Enduring Terror Threat

    A "PARTISAN BRAWL" OVER SECURITY... DEMS RESPOND WITH THEIR OWN REPORT: On Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats released their own report, which asserts that Americans are less safe now than they were five years ago, and brought out Wesley K. Clark, the retired general and 2004 presidential candidate, to trumpet it. In an interview, General Clark said he was trying to help Democrats "articulate a strong and successful national security position, so that people can understand that Democrats can and will succeed in protecting the nation." The dueling appearances laid bare a central fact about the changing politics of Sept. 11. Five years ago, there was a period of bipartisanship that has evolved into a partisan brawl over the course Mr. Bush has pursued, especially in invading Iraq. This week's politicking would have been unthinkable four years ago, but both sides openly embraced it on Tuesday. New York Times: Looking to Elections, Bush and Democrats Spar on National Security

    DEMS PUSH RUMSFELD NO CONFIDENCE VOTE: Democratic senators will try to present a no-confidence measure on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to the full Senate on Wednesday in an effort to persuade President Bush to sack the outspoken Pentagon chief, Democratic aides said. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California was the first to move publicly on the measure, which will be attached to a defense appropriation bill, but Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada is expected to offer the proposal. Democrats in the House of Representatives are likely to offer a similar proposal, a senior Democratic aide said. The Senate's Republican leadership may prevent a vote on the measure, and Rumsfeld would remain in office even if it passes the Republican-controlled Senate, which is unlikely. CNN: Dems push Rumsfeld no-confidence vote

    GREGORY TO SNOW: "DON'T POINT YOUR FINGER AT ME!" A not especially eventful press briefing at the White House [Tuesday] turned rancorous with NBC's David Gregory telling Press Secretary Tony Snow, "Don't point your finger at me," and Snow accusing the newsman of being "rude" and delivering Democratic talking points. Earlier, speaking to reporters, Snow, continuing the administration's media focus on the war on terror, accused "some in the Democratic Party" of saying "we shouldn't fight the war" and "we shouldn't apprehend al-Qaeda" or even "question al-Qaeda." Snow got into a tussle with Gregory after the NBC journalist told him, in a lengthy remark, that the public may wonder why the president's statement and report today on the war on terror did not admit more failings on the administration's part. Snow observed that he had nicely summarized "the Democratic point of view," and Gregory took exception to this. Editor and Publisher: Newsman to Tony Snow: 'Don't Point Your Finger At Me!'

    GOP DIVIDED... WHAT TO DO ABOUT WIRETAPS? Deepening Republican divisions over the future of President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program may jeopardize GOP leaders' hopes of making terrorism surveillance legislation a centerpiece of their final legislative push this month. House and Senate Republican leaders plan to focus congressional attention almost exclusively on national security, hoping to draw clear distinctions between Republicans and Democrats ahead of the November elections. Topping the to-do list is passing legislation officially sanctioning the National Security Agency's secret wiretapping of suspected terrorist communications. The eavesdropping has been carried out without warrants since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. A federal judge in Detroit recently ruled the program illegal. Washington Post: Republican Rift Over Wiretapping Widens

    SOME HOUSE DEMS THREATEN TO "RESIST ADJOURNING" SEPTEMBER 29: Democrats seeking to return to power have labeled the House of Representatives the "Do-Nothing Congress" and are threatening to resist adjourning later this month to make a political point. House Democratic leaders wrote a letter to Speaker J. Dennis Hastert on Friday saying they will fight Republican efforts to adjourn as scheduled Sept. 29 unless Congress passes legislation "that meets the real needs of the American people." The legislative calendar as it stands today includes fewer than 20 legislative days before members break to campaign for the Nov. 7 election. Washington Times: 'Do-Nothing Congress' vilified

    PRESSURE FOR LEADERS TO PASS "PET PRIORITIES" ON DEADLINE: House GOP leaders are facing new pressure from several vulnerable House Republicans on an array of legislation that their leaders have resisted for most of the 109th Congress, chief among them being an increase in the minimum wage. Fresh from five weeks of meeting with voters, vulnerable Republicans also want votes on pet priorities ranging from increasing money for Pell education grants to eliminating tariffs on ethanol. The priorities of these endangered incumbents pose several challenges to House leaders. They create pressure for leaders to revisit issues they would rather avoid, and together add up to too many items for the House to address before recessing for the elections. The Hill: Leaders under pressure

    IMMIGRATION "REALLY POPPING" ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL: While Congress is unlikely to enact major immigration legislation before November, inaction does not make the issue any less potent in campaigning. In fact, many Republicans, on the defensive... around the country over the war in Iraq, say they are finding that a hard-line immigration stance resonates not just with conservatives, who have been disheartened on other fronts this year, but also with a wide swath of voters in districts where control of the House could be decided. "Immigration is an issue that is really popping," said Dan Allen, a Republican strategist. "It is an issue that independents are paying attention to as well. It gets us talking about security and law and order." New York Times: In Bellwether District, G.O.P. Runs on Immigration

    THE THIRD-PARTY SPOILERS: In a year when control of Congress is at stake and key races could be close, there's a chance that little-known minor-party candidates... could alter the political landscape. Richard Winger, who monitors minor-party campaigns for his newsletter, Ballot Access News, says Libertarian Party candidates have helped Democrats in recent years win or hold three Senate seats targeted by Republicans. Those races were the 1998 re-election of Harry Reid of Nevada, now the Senate Democratic leader; the 2000 victory of Maria Cantwell in Washington; and Tim Johnson's re-election to a second term in South Dakota in 2002... "Nothing like that happened in 2004, but it might this year," Winger says. According to his tally, there are minor-party or independent candidates on the ballot in at least 10 Senate and six gubernatorial elections that are potentially competitive, as well as a host of House races. USA Today: Third candidates could tilt number of races

    BUSH TAPS EX-HIGHWAY CHIEF PETERS FOR TRANSPORTATION POST: President Bush named a new Transportation secretary Tuesday, while one of his top healthcare experts announced he was resigning - all part of ongoing personnel shifts as the administration prepares for its last two years. Bush nominated former Federal Highway Administrator Mary E. Peters to the transportation post, replacing Norman Y. Mineta, the veteran San Jose congressman who had been the only Democrat in the Cabinet... Peters, 57, went to work at the Arizona Department of Transportation as a secretary in 1985 and worked her way up to become its director in 1998. Although her professional background is in highway planning and construction, her first major challenge will be to win congressional reauthorization of the government's commercial aviation policy next year. Accepting her nomination at the White House on Tuesday, Peters said her top priority would be to reduce congestion in all types of transportation. Los Angeles Times: One Up, One Out: More Bush Lineup Changes

    RUMSFELD GETS SHOULDER SURGERY FOR TORN ROTATOR CUFF: Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld underwent successful shoulder surgery Tuesday to repair a torn rotator cuff. Eric Ruff, the Pentagon press secretary, said Rumsfeld, 74, had the surgery on his left shoulder at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and described it as elective surgery that was scheduled weeks in advance. Rumsfeld did not undergo general anesthesia for the arthroscopic procedure, Ruff said. Nonetheless, the defense secretary transferred to Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England the responsibility for determining how to respond if a potentially hostile aircraft entered U.S. airspace. That responsibility is related to the combat air patrols that have been flown regularly over U.S. airspace since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Ruff said that was the only responsibility shifted to England, and that it was expected to be returned to Rumsfeld in a short time. AP via Yahoo! News: Rumsfeld has shoulder surgery

    JUSTICE KENNEDY UNDERGOES ROUTINE HEART PROCEDURE: Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy was hospitalized over the Labor Day weekend for chest pains. But after having a stent implanted in one of his coronary arteries, the justice was back at work on Tuesday morning, all hale and hearty. Kennedy, 70, who has served on the Supreme Court since 1988, was on Long Island with his wife when he began experiencing chest pains. Mary Kennedy, earning herself a nomination for Wife of the Year, drove her husband back to Washington, D.C., where he was admitted to the hospital early Saturday. Kennedy "underwent a routine procedure at Washington Hospital Center to have a stent inserted after experiencing mild chest pain," said Kathy Arberg, a Supreme Court spokeswoman. Arberg said Kennedy had undergone another stent insertion in November 2005. Such devices are used to relieve poor blood flow to the heart, which can lead to heart attacks. Roll Call: Health Scare

    DAVIS, CRIST WILL FACE OFF FOR FL GOV: Jim Davis, a mild-mannered Democratic congressman from Tampa who campaigned as a Tallahassee outsider and weathered ferocious attacks from one of the state's most powerful industries, won his party's nomination for governor Tuesday. Davis will face Republican Attorney General Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg, who easily extinguished the career of one of Florida's longest-serving politicians, Tom Gallagher. The Democratic race was more suspenseful, with the latest polls and early vote returns showing state Sen. Rod Smith of small-town Alachua closing in. Backed by a multimillion-dollar advertising blitz by front groups for sugar growers, Smith hit hard at Davis for opposing compensation for two wrongfully convicted black men and for missing votes in Congress. Miami Herald: Davis to face Crist in governor's race

    HARRIS "BREEZES" TO VICTORY IN PRIMARY: U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Longboat Key, easily won a statewide primary Tuesday to become the Republican contender who will try to oust Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. Harris' challengers -- LeRoy Collins Jr., William McBride and Peter Monroe -- each trailed her by wide margins. At her Tampa campaign headquarters, supporters celebrated before the statewide returns were in and their candidate arrived. They anxiously waited to cut into a cake with Harris' photo and an inscription in red icing: "Our next United States Senator." Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Katherine Harris breezes to a Senate primary win

    AZ GOP CANDIDATES TO NRCC: "STAY THE HELL OUT OF SOUTHERN ARIZONA": Arizona Republicans in a crowded House primary denounced the national GOP Tuesday for taking sides in the race. "They're idiots," one candidate said. The National Republican Congressional Committee last week backed a candidate in the primary, launching a $122,000 advertising campaign for state Rep. Steve Huffman. The party contends Huffman is a moderate candidate who could win the district in November. On Tuesday, Huffman's four GOP opponents took the unusual step of holding a joint news conference and delivering a message to the National Republican Congressional Committee. "Stay the hell out of southern Arizona," said Mike Hellon, one of the candidates and a former state party chairman, in an interview following the news conference. AP via Yahoo! News: GOP primary ad in Arizona sparks protest

    ANGELIDES SCORES L.A. MAYOR'S ENDORSEMENT: After three months of waiting for the Los Angeles mayor's endorsement, Phil Angelides used a joke Tuesday to brush off Antonio Villaraigosa's conspicuous delay in putting his popularity to work for his own party's nominee for governor. Villaraigosa, a national star of the Democratic Party, "wanted to plan a big wedding, and big weddings take time," Angelides told a crowd of hundreds packed into a Los Angeles school auditorium for the mayor's announcement. The event's splashy theatrics - a brass band, dancing, hundreds of screeching schoolchildren and 13 television cameras to capture the scene - only underscored the political energy that Villaraigosa has denied Angelides over a difficult summer for the state treasurer's campaign to oust Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Los Angeles Times: Villaraigosa Backs Angelides in Governor's Race

    IL'S GOV RYAN IN COURT FOR SENTENCING TODAY: Former Gov. George Ryan is expected to learn on Wednesday how much prison time he will receive for his conviction on sweeping corruption charges, but the fight to keep him free will be far from over. In addition to hundreds of pages of defense motions seeking to overturn the guilty verdict and get Ryan a new trial, his attorneys last week requested that U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer issue Ryan an appeal bond. If granted, the bond would keep Ryan out of prison for months, if not a year or more, while a higher court decides the outcome of his case. Ryan's lawyers argue that he should remain free on bond while they appeal his conviction because the case's famously troubled jury deliberations created a "substantial question... likely to result" in an appellate court's ordering a new trial. Chicago Tribune: Ryan faces sentencing

    MD COMPTROLLER IN HOT WATER (ONCE AGAIN) FOR REMARKS: Maryland comptroller candidate Janet S. Owens denounced her opponent yesterday for dubbing her "Mother Hubbard," characterizing the remarks by incumbent William Donald Schaefer as "coarse and insulting." Schaefer told Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher in comments published yesterday that Owens, the Anne Arundel County executive, is a "prissy little miss" who wears "long dresses, looks like Mother Hubbard -- it's sort of like she was a man." Schaefer made similar comments in a taped interview with NewsChannel 8. "She's got these long clothes on and an old-fashioned hairdo," he said. "You know it sort of makes you real mad."... The remarks came as Schaefer is airing a television ad apologizing for past comments that have offended women, immigrants and other groups. He drew heavy criticism this year for ogling a young female aide to Gov. Robert L Ehrlich Jr. (R) and for suggesting that Korean immigrants were connected to missile tests by North Korea. Washington Post: Owens Assails Schaefer's Remarks
  • Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 9/06/2006 08:48:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Tuesday, September 05, 2006
    Rumsfeld under the knife, under the gun


    The surgery and proposed no-confidence vote could lead to another active week for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld underwent elective surgery Tuesday to mend a torn rotator cuff, a day before Democratic senators planned to offer a no-confidence measure on the embattled secretary.

    Rumsfeld briefly transferred power to Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England before undergoing a two-hour operation on his left shoulder at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Pentagon officials. (Full story)

    Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Democratic leaders finalized plans to attach an amendment to an upcoming defense appropriation bill asking Senators to express confidence -- or not -- in Rumsfeld, according to Democratic aides.

    An architect of the now-unpopular war in Iraq, the secretary further inflamed Democrats last week by accusing Iraq war critics of turning a blind eye to "a new type of fascism" and "returning to that old mentality of 'blame America first.'"

    The idea is to force Republicans to cast what would amount to a vote of confidence in Rumsfeld before November's midterm elections, a Democratic strategist close to the House said last week, as well as present a united Democratic front. Democrats in the House of Representatives are likely to offer a similar proposal, a senior Democratic aide told CNN.

    Rumsfeld has said he has offered his resignation before, and Bush has refused it. The president said in April that he wanted Rumsfeld to stay, declaring, "I'm the decider."

    And Tuesday, White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters that the replacement of Rumsfeld is "not going to happen."
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/05/2006 02:04:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Ex-FHA chief named to head Transportation Dept.
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Federal Highway Administration chief Mary Peters will be named as the new Secretary of Transportation, a senior White House official said Tuesday.

    The announcement is expected to be made at 2:30 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.

    Peters would replace Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta, the lone Democrat in Bush's Cabinet, who resigned in July.

    "Mary Peters is a proven and innovative leader in transportation," a senior White House official said. "She has over 20 years of experience fighting for improved transportation safety, reduced congestion, and modernization of our nation's roads and bridges."
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/05/2006 12:33:00 PM ET | Permalink
    White House: 'Substantial progress' fighting terrorism


    While noting challenges, the Bush administration claimed several anti-terrorism successes.

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Repeating familiar themes, the White House issued a report Tuesday that lays out what it says are the Bush administration's successes and challenges in the fight against terrorism since September 11, 2001, saying it has made "substantial progress."

    The administration claims several successes, including a stronger ability to disrupt and help prevent future attacks through creation of the Department of Homeland Security, the Office of Director of National Intelligence, and the National Counterterrorism Center.

    The report also points to creating "an unprecedented international campaign" to thwart terrorist financing, ousting the Taliban in Afghanistan so that country can join the war against terror, fighting to set up a democratic Iraq, forming international partnerships and renewing the Patriot Act.

    A day earlier, New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer issued his own report claiming the country remains vulnerable to terrorists, especially because of poor mass transit security and the slow development of explosives detection technology. (Full story)

    Also Monday, Democratic leaders sent a letter to President Bush decrying U.S. policy in Iraq and calling for a phased redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq to begin by year's end. (Full story)
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/05/2006 12:21:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Medicare chief to resign in October
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Dr. Mark McClellan, the chief of the Health and Human Services' Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will resign his post in October, White House spokesman Tony Snow confirmed Tuesday.

    McClellan informed his staff of his decision by e-mail Tuesday morning, Snow said. No replacement has been named.

    The brother of Snow's predecessor, Scott McClellan, and son of Texas gubernatorial nominee Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Mark McClellan is a medical doctor and noted economist. He served as commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration before assuming his current role.
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/05/2006 11:34:00 AM ET | Permalink
    The Morning Grind
    (A first look at today's political news)

    It's back to work on Capitol Hill today, and Republicans are setting aside big plans for an immigration overhaul, putting the September spotlight on National Security.

    Some rough headlines for the GOP as newspapers across the country get their Stuart Rothenberg and Charlie Cook quotes together for the post-Labor Day election outlook pieces... "A Horror Show for Republicans," says the Chicago Tribune.

    It is primary day in Florida, and Katherine Harris is expected to win the GOP Senate nod, despite her former campaign manager calling her bid "one of the most disastrous ever run in the United States."

    And the White House released an updated version of the "National Strategy for Combating Terrorism" this morning, ahead of President Bush's remarks on the Global War on Terror at the Capital Hilton at 1:20 PM ET.

    Get the latest on these stories and more in Political Hot Topics below!

    *****

    GOP PUTTING THE SEPTEMBER SPOTLIGHT ON SECURITY: Returning from recess still beset by bad poll numbers, Congressional Republicans are crafting a September strategy to highlight national security issues in hopes of boosting their Election Day prospects with a topic that is in the forefront of voters' minds. The combined legislative and political effort comes on the heels of President Bush's national campaign last week to re-emphasize the security platform that paid great dividends for the party in the past two cycles. The GOP hopes to regain ground it has lost with the public on its handling of the Iraq War and terrorism generally. "With 10 weeks out from the election, there is very little we can do to change the course," acknowledged a senior House Republican leadership aide. National security "is all we've got. What we can do is remind voters exactly where we stand on the issues that are most important to the American public." Roll Call: GOP Readies Security Theme

    IMMIGRATION OVERHAUL "ALL BUT ABANDONED" BY GOP: As they prepare for a critical pre-election legislative stretch, Congressional Republican leaders have all but abandoned a broad overhaul of immigration laws and instead will concentrate on national security issues they believe play to their political strength. With Congress reconvening Tuesday after an August break, Republicans in the House and Senate say they will focus on Pentagon and domestic security spending bills, port security legislation and measures that would authorize the administration's terror surveillance program and create military tribunals to try terror suspects... A final decision on what do about immigration policy awaits a meeting this week of senior Republicans. But key lawmakers and aides who set the Congressional agenda say they now believe it would be politically risky to try to advance an immigration measure that would showcase party divisions and need to be completed in the 19 days Congress is scheduled to meet before breaking for the election. New York Times: G.O.P. Sets Aside Work on Immigration

    NOVEMBER LOOKING LIKE A "HORROR SHOW FOR REPUBLICANS," SAYS THE TRIB: As the congressional election season kicks off in earnest this Labor Day weekend, nobody is talking about realignment. Rather, Republicans concede they are struggling simply to cling to power. Numerous political analysts are forecasting that a tidal wave of voter dissatisfaction will wash Republicans out of office on Nov. 7 and possibly hand control of the House back to Democrats, who also are poised for gains in the Senate and to win back governorships. "The Republicans had a great run for a while, and it's over," said Charlie Cook, a non-partisan analyst and founder of the Cook Political Report. Chicago Tribune: 'A horror show for Republicans'

    3/4 OF AMERICANS ARE ANGRY ABOUT THE DIRECTION OF THE COUNTRY: Most Americans are angry about "something" when it comes to how the country is run, and they are more likely than in previous years to vote for a challenger this November, a new poll suggests. A majority of Americans surveyed -- and a higher percentage than recorded during the same time last year -- said things in the United States are going "badly." Among this year's respondents, 29 percent said "pretty badly" and 25 percent -- up from 15 percent a month ago -- answered "very badly." By comparison, 37 percent described the way things are going as "fairly well," and 9 percent answered "very well." Of these people, 76 percent said there was "something" to be angry about in the country today. By comparison, 59 percent felt that way when polled in February. CNN: Voters are anti-incumbent and angry, new poll finds

    DEMS HAVE HISTORY ON THEIR SIDE: The race for Congress and the nation's governorships bolted from the Labor Day starting gate yesterday, with voter-preference polls tightening between the parties in an election that both sides said will be even closer by November. Historically, the party that holds the White House usually loses seats in Congress in a second term, and campaign strategists in both parties expected Democrats to make gains in the House and Senate -- while two top election forecasters predicted they will win 15 or more seats that will give them majority control of the House. If "the political climate remains as it is today -- a very big 'if' -- Republicans will likely lose the House and their dominance of the nation's governorships, but hang on to the Senate by a thread," veteran analyst Charlie Cook said last week in his National Journal report. Washington Times: History favors Democrats in Congress races

    SECURITY MOMS, MEET THE "MORTGAGE MOMS": Every election cycle has its own important set of undecided, or swing, voters. In 2000, it was the "soccer moms," targeted by both parties with appeals based on education and quality-of-life concerns. In 2004, it was the security moms, normally Democratic-trending women whose concerns about terrorism helped give Bush his margin of victory. This year could mark the emergence of what might be called mortgage moms -- voters whose sense of well-being is freighted with anxiety about their families' financial squeeze. Democrats are betting that this factor is strong enough to trump security or cultural values issues. Washington Post: 'Mortgage Moms' May Star in Midterm Vote

    FAITHFULDEMOCRATS.COM COURTS "SOCIALLY MODERATE EVANGELICALS": The Democratic Party, saddled with a secular image that has hurt it in elections, is getting religion. Some Democrats have been mentioning God more often since the party lost the 2004 presidential election. To encourage that trend, former Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman David Wilhelm, an Ohio investment banker and churchgoing Methodist, is launching a website today that is aimed at persuading more devout Christians to vote Democratic. Wilhelm's website -FaithfulDemocrats.com - is a collection of blogs, theological essays and candidate features and is not officially affiliated with the Democratic Party. The site is designed to rally Christian Democrats and attract socially moderate evangelicals. USA Today: Some Democrats go online to click with religious voters

    SCHUMER SLAMS DHS WITH A "C-": The U.S. remains "dangerously vulnerable" five years after 9/11 and Washington should double the budget for homeland security, Sen. Chuck Schumer said at Ground Zero yesterday. Releasing a new Homeland Security Report Card, the senator blasted Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff for a "lack of focus" and gave Washington failing grades for mass transit security, first responder grants and detection devices. "The Homeland Security Department is like a bed that has seven kids and only enough blanket for four," the senator said. "You pull in one direction to cover up one aspect of homeland security, and then others are laid bare." New York Daily News: Chuck gives feds a C- on homeland security

    "PLAYED OUT" PLAME "SCANDAL" HAS FIZZLED: The expectation on the left that the Valerie Plame affair would blossom into another Watergate, bringing down a second Republican presidency, has fizzled. Liberals expected that convictions of one or more persons in the Bush administration for leaking or confirming to columnist Robert Novak that Mrs. Plame, the wife of Bush critic Joseph C. Wilson IV, was an undercover CIA operative. Echoing Mr. Wilson's claims, prominent liberals and leftists, most of them in the press, accused the White House of orchestrating a smear, and sought to drive Karl Rove either out of office or into prison, or both. Three years on, none of that has happened, and the "scandal" is played out. Washington Times: The flameout of the Plame game

    IMMIGRATION ACTIVISTS MARCH TO HASTERT'S HOUSE IN IL: Passion filled six blocks of Batavia on Monday as approximately 2,000 immigrant rights activists rallied near the home office of U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert... For this pro-immigration force, the afternoon marked the end of a four-day, 45-mile walk that started in Chicago's Chinatown Square and spanned the city's western suburbs. About 250 marchers walked the entire distance. Others showed up at one or more of the neighborhood rallies in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood or in Cicero, Melrose Park, Villa Park and West Chicago. The group wants Hastert, a Republican, to offer legalization for the nation's 11 million to 12 million illegal immigrants and to put a moratorium on raids and deportations by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Chicago Tribune: Immigrant-rights supporters rally outside Hastert's home office

    EDWARDS RALLIES 'EM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE...: Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards, the Democratic Party's vice presidential candidate in 2004, called for greater economic fairness in America yesterday, thrilling an audience of union members who had gathered for their traditional Labor Day breakfast. Edwards' remarks were not generally new, but they certainly hit all the right notes among his audience. More than 400 union members gathered at the Chateau Restaurant on Hanover Street for the New Hampshire AFL-CIO's Labor Day Breakfast, an annual tradition for the union. Manchester Union-Leader: Edwards: Economic fairness is needed

    ...AND IN IOWA: The former North Carolina senator stopped in the river community of Hampton, Ill., as part of the 39th annual Quad Cities Salute to Labor Picnic, sponsored by the Rock Island County Democratic Party and Quad City Federation of Labor. It was Edwards' second stop of the day, coming from New Hampshire before heading to Springfield, Mo. In the spirit of the national holiday and speaking for the multitude of union workers present, Edwards urged the audience of several hundred people to recognize the value of laborers. He disagreed with reports on the decline of the labor movement, saying an expanding service industry would bolster union ranks. Des Moines Register: Edwards discusses significance of organized labor

    EHRLICH, STEELE GET FLAK FROM MD DEMS FOR SKIPPING BUSH EVENT: President Bush marked Labor Day at a union-operated maritime training center in Southern Maryland, telling mariners that he was striving to keep U.S. workers competitive by enacting permanent tax cuts, pressing to end U.S. dependence on foreign oil and preparing workers for 21st-century jobs... Maryland's Democratic Party criticized Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele for accepting Bush's fundraising help but staying away from a high-profile presidential visit to the state. "Under Bush's domestic policies, the big special interests, especially the big oil companies, are thriving at the expense of Maryland's families. Yet, Bush has told these special interests to keep funding the Ehrlich and Steele campaigns while they continue to keep the Bush-Cheney-Rove political machine of deception and middle class abandonment afloat," Derek Walker, the state party's executive director, said in a statement. Baltimore Sun: Bush marks Labor Day in MD

    PRIMARY DAY IN FLORIDA... JUST 1/4 OF VOTERS EXPECTED TO TURN OUT: It's primary day. Too bad that most voters won't show up. Today's election features important races for governor, U.S. Senate, Congress, two state Cabinet seats and many more legislative and local offices. Despite the heavy slate of candidates, the Florida Secretary of State's Office predicts that just 24 percent of eligible voters will go to the polls. That didn't deter the four major candidates for governor -- Democrats Jim Davis and Rod Smith and Republicans Charlie Crist and Tom Gallagher -- from frantically traversing the state Monday to drum up last-minute support. Orlando Sentinel: Candidates make final dash across Florida

    "DISASTROUS" HARRIS SET TO WIN PARTY NOD: Disaster may not be too strong a word for Rep. Katherine Harris' Senate campaign. Her makeup and formfitting clothes are mocked on national TV. Her flirty interview style embarrasses her campaign handlers. Staffers keep quitting in despair. She's been linked to a shady defense contractor, caught in fibs and scolded for telling voters that non-Christian politicians "legislate sin." Yet, on the strength of her name recognition, Harris is expected to win Florida's GOP Senate nomination on Tuesday, to the chagrin of many Republicans. "This campaign will go down in history as one of the most disastrous ever run in the United States," declares Jim Dornan, who helped launch Harris' bid as her campaign manager. AP via Yahoo! News: Harris looks like primary winner

    ANGELIDES: ARNOLD A "FIRST CLASS FRAUD" WHO "WOULDN'T KNOW THE TRUTH IF IT SLAPPED HIM IN THE FACE": Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides, aiming to energize union members and party activists on Labor Day, charged that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a "first-class fraud" whose moderate stands on issues like global warming and a minimum wage increase will disappear if he is re-elected. "The fact is, this is a guy who wouldn't know the truth if it slapped him in the face," said Angelides, who spent the traditional opening of the fall campaign on a four-city fly-around that took him across the state. "What he's doing, for 90 days before the election, is trying to trick the people of California to save his own job ... (but) his conversion is as fraudulent as Bush's claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq." Angelides made the statement after an address to several hundred union activists at the annual breakfast at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. San Francisco Chronicle: Governor race in full steam as Labor Day starts season

    LAMONT'S MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN: For more than a decade, Tom Swan looked for someone willing to run against Senator Joseph I. Lieberman. He could tick off a long list of grievances against the senator, from his opposing universal health care to his support of the war in Iraq, and he could name hundreds of Connecticut voters who echoed his complaints. But there were no takers until Ned Lamont, a wealthy businessman and political novice, came around last winter and asked Mr. Swan to leave his job as the director of Connecticut Citizen Action Group, a government watchdog organization, to run his unlikely campaign. At the time, even some of Mr. Swan's allies said it would be impossible to defeat a three-term incumbent in the Aug. 8 Democratic primary. But Mr. Lamont, helped by Mr. Swan, did. New York Times: A New Challenge for the Man Behind a Primary Victory

    FENTY GETS THUMBS UP FROM THE POST: "There is more to Adrian Fenty than a youthful, energetic and politically ambitious grass-roots campaigner. There is a can-do quality in him that suggests the government can be reformed, that schools can be rebuilt and that institutions in this city can come together to improve people's lives. He offers a vision of the city that challenges the best in people... The 2006 mayoral campaign is all about the District's future in a dynamic and uncertain environment. Democrats inclined to vote their fears may look elsewhere. A vote for hope, however, is a vote for Adrian Fenty." Washington Post: Adrian Fenty for Mayor
    Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 9/05/2006 08:54:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Monday, September 04, 2006
    Schumer's gives feds C- on homeland security


    Sen. Charles Schumer is heading Democratic efforts to retake the Senate.

    NEW YORK (CNN) -- In a report issued Monday, Sen. Charles Schumer claimed the country remains vulnerable to terrorists, especially because of poor mass transit security and the slow development of explosives detection technology.

    "A promise was made to the American people that after 9/11 every step would be taken, no expense not taken ... to make our homeland secure," said Schumer. "Too much of that promise remains unfulfilled."

    Schumer's "report card" on homeland security gave the federal government an overall "C-minus" rating. The New York Democrat said efforts to improve aviation security, including increasing the use of air marshals and the installation of hardened cockpit doors, merited a "B-minus."

    But he said the government failed in the areas of mass transit security, development of bomb detection devices and allocation of grants to first responders and high-threat urban areas. Port security got a "D" and truck security a "C."
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/04/2006 04:09:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Bush stresses energy independence, taxes on Labor Day


    President Bush singled out nuclear energy as a good alternative to oil.

    PINEY POINT, Maryland (CNN) -- President Bush marked Labor Day with a speech at a maritime school, stressing economic growth, energy independence and low taxes.

    The president echoed familiar themes during his visit to the Paul Hall Center for Maritime Training and Education, including advocating nuclear energy as an alternative to oil.

    "Dependence on foreign oil jeopardizes our capacity to grow," Bush said. "Problem is, we get oil from some parts of the world, and they simply don't like us. And so the more dependent we are on that type of energy, the less likely it will be that we are able to compete, and so people have good, high-paying jobs."

    Bush pointed to the nation's unemployment as evidence of the strong economy, although the rate actually rose 0.2 percentage points in July to 4.8 percent. The president also repeated his desire that Congress make the tax cuts he pursued in 2001 permanent.

    "To be the economic leader of the world, we have to keep our taxes low," he said.
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/04/2006 01:05:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Top Democrats call for change in Iraq policy


    More than 2,600 U.S. service members have been killed in Iraq.

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In a letter to President Bush, congressional Democratic leaders and ranking members from the key national security committees on Monday decried U.S. policy in Iraq as not working and called for a phased redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq to begin before the end of the year.

    "This current path -- for our military, for the Iraqi people, and for our security -- is neither working, nor making us more secure," the letter said.

    In a series of recent speeches, Bush has vowed not to leave Iraq until the military's mission there is complete and Iraqi forces are able to replace them.

    Citing escalating violence over the past five weeks, the Democrats' letter calls for a new direction in Iraq and urges Bush to consider changing his Iraq policy and replacing civilian leadership at the Defense Department -- a reference to Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who has come under fire in recent months.

    "With daily attacks against American and Iraqi troops at close to their highest levels since the start of the war, and sectarian violence intensifying, we can only conclude that our troops are caught in the middle of a low-grade civil war that is getting worse," the letter said.
    Posted By CNN's Congressional Unit: 9/04/2006 11:50:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Shays backs Rumsfeld on appeasement


    Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has come under fire from Democrats and some Republicans.

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Rep. Christopher Shays, a Republican sometimes critical of the Bush administration and now fighting for his political life, said Sunday that he supports Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's comments warning against the risks of appeasement in anti-terrorism efforts.

    Last week, Rumsfeld said the United States and its allies "confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism" -- adding that "some seem not to have learned history's lessons." Democrats blasted the remarks, which it claims equates Iraq war critics with those who appeased the Nazis before World War II, with Rep. Marty Meehan calling the comments "outrageous" and "over the line."

    But Shays, in the midst of a tough re-election battle in Democrat-leaning Connecticut, said, "I read Rumsfeld's speech, and I buy it entirely."

    "I think people need to wake up," Shays, the chairman of the National Security Subcommittee, told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer." "This war on terrorism is a real threat."

    Shays has called for U.S. troops to be withdrawn as Iraqi troops are able to replace them, has been critical of Rumsfeld but stopped short of calling for his resignation.

    The Connecticut Republican recently returned from his 14th trip to Iraq, saying that the country's political leaders have been "missing in action" since January, and urged that "a fire" be lighted under them.
    Posted By CNN's Congressional Unit: 9/04/2006 11:25:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Nellie Connally, widow of John Connally, dead at 87
    (CNN) -- Nellie Connally, the widow of former Texas Gov. John Connally who was riding in the limousine with President John F. Kennedy when he was assassinated, died suddenly late Friday in Austin, Texas at the age of 87.

    Connally was found in her apartment Saturday morning, apparently having died while writing correspondences the night before, said longtime family friend Julian Read.

    "She has been extremely vital and extremely active," said Read, a onetime aide to the former governor. "We are all shocked by the loss."

    Connaly lived much of her adult life in the middle of Texas and national politics, while her husband was governor, as well as Navy secretary and Treasury secretary in two presidential administrations.

    But she may be best known for what happened November 22, 1963, when shots were fired at the open-air presidential limo. Kennedy was killed, while John Connally -- sitting next to her -- was critically wounded. Doctors later credited Nellie Connally with saving her husband's life by pressing down on his arm to slow blood loss from his chest wound.
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/04/2006 10:10:00 AM ET | Permalink
    ABOUT THE BLOG
    The Situation Room blog 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 "Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer on CNN 4-6 p.m. and 7-8 p.m. ET Monday-Friday.


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    • 10/28/2007 - 11/04/2007
    • 11/04/2007 - 11/11/2007
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