Friday, September 15, 2006
The Cafferty File: Apology in order?
On "The Situation Room" today, we asked viewers the following questions, and here are some of our favorite responses that we didn't get to read on air:

Should the Pope apologize for comments he made about Islam?

Yes. What in heaven's name was he thinking, using such inflammatory language encouraging a religious war?
Merryman, Paducah, Kentucky

The Pope's comments were taken out of context and as usual Islam had their feelings on their sleeves. None of the infidels has apologized to His Holiness for cracks made about Christians.
George, Roanoke, Virginia

No, I don't think the Pope should apologize for his reading of an historical text. We cannot continue to be held hostage to Muslim expression of anger over every perceived insult.
Jeremy, Corpus Christi, Texas

The Pope has no reason to apologize for his comments because they are true. Violence in the Muslim world is more rampant than in the Christian world. The Crusades were over 500 hundred years ago, it is the past.
Joe, Independence, Missouri

Would you support a third national political party headed by Colin Powell and Barack Obama?

Absolutely! These two guys have a proven track record of actions and morality. This automatically puts them at least two notches above EVERY other politician currently in office in either house of Congress or the White House.
George, Murphy, North Carolina

Jack, that's about the silliest question you've come up with. While each of the gentlemen enjoys a degree of popularity, politically they are as far apart as you can get: Obama is a liberal Democrat, and Powell a conservative Republican and one of the "spinmasters" who got us into the Iraq war.
Harold, Anchorage, Alaska

Jack, I hate to say this, but I don't think I could support anybody who would be dumb enough to run for president and get involved in this horrendous quagmire that Bush has created. All the smart people are running away!
Jim

Wouldn't it be nice to have that much integrity and intelligence? Count me in. I'll gladly be the first former Republican Caucasian in that line!
Dan, Phoenix, Arizona

Yes, yes, and yes. Boy, wouldn't that stir up all the racists in this country. I think they would do a damn good job!
Dee, Shelton, Connecticut

Jack, We would support a 3rd party led by Colin Powell. Barack Obama is yet untried and not sure if he is true!
R., Cameron, Montana

What does it mean when President Bush says interrogation of terror suspects "won't go forward" unless Congress changes the law?

It means President Bush wants to cover his butt for the current handling of detainees by getting Congress to change the laws that he has already broken.
R., Madison, Wisconsin

It means that a President who has been coddled by the partisan Congress throughout his tenure is willing to take his ball and go home unless he gets to make the rules. How childish. Statements like this speak clearly that this administration is not about protecting the American public, so much as serving their own private interests.
Scott, St. Louis, Missouri

By the way of his phrasing it sounds like a direct threat to our country. You do what I want or everyone gets it! I just hope that Congress isn't flimsy enough to buckle to idle threats such as that one.
Kendall, Charlottesville, Virginia

You can stop wondering why Bush wants to change the Geneva Convention laws. He is afraid that if the Democrats ever take control he will be tried for war crimes. That is also why his change would be retroactive to 9/11/2001.
Audrey, Florida
Posted By Jack Cafferty, CNN Commentator: 9/15/2006 05:47:00 PM ET | Permalink
Bush defends stance on tribunals, interrogation tactics
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Facing a rebellion among fellow Republicans in the Senate, President Bush on Friday strongly defended his positions on interrogation tactics and military tribunals for suspected terrorists.

"The enemy has struck us and they want to strike us again," Bush said. "And we'll give our folks the tools to protect this country. That's our job." (Full story)
Posted By CNN's Congressional Unit: 9/15/2006 12:14:00 PM ET | Permalink
Ney pleads guilty in corruption probe, enters rehab
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Republican Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio -- following a long probe into his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff -- pleaded guilty Friday to charges of conspiracy and making false statements, Ney and the Justice Department said.

Prosecutors agreed to recommend 27 months in prison if Ney cooperates with the Justice Department's ongoing influence peddling investigation. (Full story)

Sources said Thursday that Ney had entered an alcohol rehabilitation facility earlier this week -- something the congressman confirmed in a statement Friday.

Ney, who had long steadfastly denied wrongdoing, became the only member of Congress to plead guilty as part of the extensive investigation. Abramoff and his business partner, Michael Scanlon, have pleaded guilty to bribery charges.
Posted By CNN's Congressional Unit: 9/15/2006 11:58:00 AM ET | Permalink
FDA on bagged spinach: 'Just don't eat it'


About 50 cases of E. coli have been traced to bagged spinach.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A "significant" outbreak of E. coli bacteria -- with cases "increasing by the day" -- prompted the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday to advise people to stop eating fresh, bagged spinach, the agency said.

To date, about 50 cases of E. coli have been traced to bagged spinach, the FDA said, with one in Wisconsin leading to a fatality. Wisconsin (with 20 cases) and Utah (11) were the states with the most reports, as have Oregon, Indiana, Michigan, Idaho, New Mexico and Connecticut. Adult women have been affected in the majority of cases.

The FDA said it does not recommend cooking the products to kill the bacteria.

"Just don't eat it," said David Acheson, chief medical officer of the FDA's Center for Drug Safety and Applied Nutrition, adding that no specific brand or manufacturer has been implicated.

The FDA warning came after alerts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Wisconsin Department of Health.

The first case was reported August 23 and have become increasingly more common. After interviewing infected individuals, experts links the cases using a genetic matching technique called PSGE.

E. coli symptoms include diarrhea and vomiting, and the bacteria can lead to more severe complications including anemia and kidney failure.

-- From CNN's Sabriya Rice
Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/15/2006 11:45:00 AM ET | Permalink
Military lawyer denies pressure to back Bush tribunal bill
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A military attorney denied claims that he faced pressure when he signed a letter to congressional leaders supporting the Bush administration's plan to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions.

Air Force Col. Ronald Reed, legal counsel to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he "had a laugh" when the plan's critics said the White House coerced military lawyers to back its position.

President Bush has said he wants to "clarify" how detainees are interrogated. But some prominent Republicans, as well as former Secretary of State Colin Powell, have opposed the effort, saying that doing so could hurt America's standing abroad and imperil U.S. troops captured in the future. (Full story)

On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted 15-9 to recommend a bill -- over the administration's objections -- that would authorize tribunals for terror suspects in a way that it says would protect the defendants' rights.
Posted By Jamie McIntyre, CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent: 9/15/2006 11:34:00 AM ET | Permalink
The Morning Grind
(A first look at today's political news)

  • POTUS holds an 11:15 am news conference in the Rose Garden. Meanwhile, a quiet Friday on Capitol Hill. Check out the gallery schedules for details:

    The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

    The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

  • Rep. Bob Ney (D-Ohio) "has agreed with the Justice Department to plead guilty to at least one criminal charge in a deal that could be announced as early as today, Capitol Hill sources said Thursday," reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The guilty plea would make Ney "the first member of Congress to admit to criminal charges in the [Jack] Abramoff investigation," adds the New York Times.

  • Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt (R) plans to appeal a ruling by a state judge that "threw out Missouri's voter ID law on Thursday," reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan ruled "that requiring drivers licenses and nondriver IDs constitutes 'an impermissible additional qualification to vote' in violation of the state constitution."

  • Barack Obama will appear in Iowa this Sunday at Tom Harkin's "Steak Fry." IL Comptroller Dan Hynes, Obama's former Senate opponent, "urged" Obama "to run for president" at a downtown Chicago news conference Thursday, reports the Chicago Tribune. "The comments from Hynes are among the strongest to date from a Democratic official about the prospect of an Obama presidential bid," adds the Trib.

  • An AP-Ipsos poll conducted Monday-Wednesday "asked Americans if the election for the House were held today, would they vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate in their district.... Democrats had a 14-point edge among likely voters, 53 percent to 39 percent... narrower than last month but still a wide gap."

  • And "some of Hollywood's most influential Democrats are throwing their support behind" the Republican Governator's re-election bid. Which members of the Dem "Glitterati" are getting on the Arnold bandwagon? Find out in Hot Topics below!
    *****

    Political Hot Topics
    (Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

    "DISSIDENT GROUP" OF SENATORS REJECT BUSH'S PLAN FOR COMBATANTS: A Senate committee rebuffed the personal entreaties of President Bush yesterday, rejecting his proposed strategies for interrogating and trying enemy combatants and approving alternative legislation that he has strenuously opposed. The bipartisan vote sets up a legislative showdown on an issue that GOP strategists had hoped would unite their party and serve as a cudgel against Democrats in the Nov. 7 elections. Instead, Bush and congressional Republican leaders are at loggerheads with a dissident group led by Sen. John McCain (R), who says the president's approach would jeopardize the safety of U.S. troops and intelligence operatives. Washington Post: Senators Defy Bush On Terror Measure

    POWELL WEIGHS IN ON TERROR SUSPECT TREATMENT: Colin Powell, the secretary of State in Bush's first term, spelled out his position in a letter to Sen. John McCain of Arizona. "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," Powell said. "To redefine [a portion of the Geneva Convention] would add to those doubts." More than that, he said, it could lead to the mistreatment of American troops captured in Iraq and elsewhere during the war on terrorism. Powell's letter came as the Senate Armed Services Committee met in closed session to consider Bush's proposal. Los Angeles Times: Senate Panel Rebuffs Bush on Anti-Terror Legislation

    POWELL'S LETTER (pdf via LAT)

    "BLOWING AWAY THE FOG OF ANONYMITY" ON EARMARKS: The House voted yesterday to shed more light on narrow-interest tax and spending legislation called earmarks, an incremental step toward openness that ended the prospect for a more sweeping overhaul of federal lobbying laws this year. With a 245 to 171 vote, the House reacted to a year of congressional scandals by requiring its members to own up to the thousands of earmarks they sponsor each year... The House simply changed its internal rules to require that these targeted programs and their sponsors be disclosed in every type of bill, a procedure that does not currently exist... "We are blowing away the fog of anonymity," said Rep. David Dreier (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Rules Committee. Washington Post: House Votes To Disclose Earmarks

    HOUSE APPROVES BORDER FENCE: The House yesterday easily approved building 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border in an effort to get major border-security legislation on President Bush's desk before November's elections."The time to address the border-security emergency is now, before Congress leaves for the November election," said House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, applauding the Republican-backed measure and introducing a slate of new border-security measures that he hopes to pass this month. Yesterday's border-fence bill was approved on a 283-138 vote. The vast majority of House Republicans were joined by 64 Democrats to support the measure. Washington Times: House passes border fence

    AP-IPSOS SHOWS DEMS LEAD BY 14 IN GENERIC HOUSE POLL: The latest Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that voters view Republicans and Democrats as equally capable of protecting the country; Democrats had an edge last month. Approval of Bush's overall job performance also improved and the president earned slightly better marks for his handling of Iraq and the war on terrorism... The AP-Ipsos poll asked Americans if the election for the House were held today, would they vote for the Democratic or Republican candidate in their district. Democrats had a 14-point edge among likely voters, 53 percent to 39 percent. That's narrower than last month but still a wide gap. Since August, the GOP has attracted more married men, young people and those who live in the Northeast. Republicans also have drawn even on the question of who would best protect the country, with 43 percent of likely voters siding with Democrats and 41 percent choosing Republicans, numbers within the poll's margin of error. AP via Yahoo! News: GOP gains ground in battle for Congress

    REPRESENTATIVE NO. 1 TO PLEAD GUILTY TO "AT LEAST ONE CRIMINAL CHARGE": Ohio GOP Rep. Bob Ney has agreed with the Justice Department to plead guilty to at least one criminal charge in a deal that could be announced as early as today, Capitol Hill sources said Thursday. The Justice Department and Ney's attorney would not discuss whether a deal has been reached. "I don't have anything I can share with you right now," said William Lawler, a lawyer for Ney. Ney's congressional office did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Capitol Hill sources close to Ney said the plea agreement was ready to be publicized on Thursday, but an announcement was delayed to avoid influencing a special election in Ney's congressional district. Cleveland Plain Dealer: Rep. Ney to plead guilty, sources say

    PADGETT TAPPED IN SPECIAL PRIMARY FOR NEY'S SEAT: Republican voters overwhelmingly picked state Sen. Joy Padgett yesterday to replace U.S. Rep. Bob Ney as their party's nominee for Ney's hotly contested congressional seat. Padgett, of Coshocton, stepped in Aug. 7 after Ney withdrew from the race, citing the stress of an investigation into his relationship with since-disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. She won nearly two-thirds of the vote in yesterday's low-turnout election to take Ney's place on the ticket. Unofficial results show that she received 9,451 votes, or 66.5 percent of the total cast. Columbus Dispatch: Padgett wins special election

    MO JUDGE THROWS OUT VOTER ID LAW: A state judge threw out Missouri's voter ID law on Thursday, saying it imposes too great a burden on the elderly and the poor. Cole County Circuit Judge Richard Callahan ruled in favor of a group of disabled, female and elderly voters who lack the required government-issued photo IDs. He agreed with their claim that requiring drivers licenses and nondriver IDs constitutes "an impermissible additional qualification to vote" in violation of the state constitution. Gov. Matt Blunt, a Republican, championed the law when the Legislature passed it in May. In a statement, Blunt said he was disappointed with the ruling and wants the state to appeal. St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Judge strikes down Missouri's voter ID law

    OBAMA GETS A PRESIDENTIAL BOOST FROM FORMER OPPONENT: [IL] State Comptroller Dan Hynes urged his former opponent, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, to run for president, just days before Obama heads to Iowa for a major political event. "We are a nation divided like at almost no other time in our history," Hynes said Thursday during a downtown news conference to announce his support for Obama. "I believe Barack Obama can change this, that he, and he alone can restore the hope and optimism that has made this country great." Chicago Tribune: Ex-rival Hynes tries to start Obama national bandwagon

    DAVIS TAPS JONES AS RUNNING MATE... WOULD BE FL'S FIRST BLACK LT GOV: On Thursday, [former FL State Senator Daryl]Jones, 51, who has remained on the political sidelines for the past four years, was tapped by Democrat Jim Davis to be his running mate. Davis said he was looking for "a fighter... somebody who is not afraid to stand up and say what they believe in as a Democrat, and a Floridian and an American." Jones' selection as the first black candidate for lieutenant governor in modern times is just one in a series of firsts. He has been named "the first black..." at nearly every pivotal point of his career. He was the first black statewide student council leader two years after his native Mississippi desegregated public schools in 1972; he was the first black candidate to run for Florida governor, in 2002, and was the first black Mississippian to enter a U.S. military academy. Jones grew up in segregated Jackson, Miss., was high-school valedictorian and attended the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. Miami Herald: Jones has seen political storm

    SCHWARZENEGGER'S TURNAROUND: Less than a year ago, Schwarzenegger's political prospects were grim. His popularity plunged after he veered to the right, proposing a package of four ballot initiatives that were all rejected by the voters in a special election."I stumbled along the way, no two ways about it," Schwarzenegger said in an interview. Since then, he has shifted to the left, bringing in a new set of advisers, some of them Democrats, and embracing a number of popular measures passed by California's Democratic legislature. Polls now show him leading his Democratic opponent, Phil Angelides, the state treasurer. Bloomberg: Schwarzenegger, Reeling a Year Ago, Heads Toward Re-Election

    HOLLYWOOD "GLITTERATI" GETTING ON ARNOLD BANDWAGON: Some of Hollywood's most influential Democrats are throwing their support behind Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's reelection bid, following the lead of Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and media mogul Haim Saban. Schwarzenegger's campaign sent out hundreds of invitations this week to an event - hosted by Sherry Lansing, Casey Wasserman, Danny DeVito and wife Rhea Perlman, director James Cameron and more than two dozen others - asking the Hollywood glitterati to donate up to $22,300 each to attend a fundraiser for the Republican governor at Saban's Beverly Hills estate on Sept. 30. Los Angeles Times: Hollywood Dems Turn Out for Gov.

    BEFORE PRIMARY, GOP NOMINEE ATTACKS DEM FRONTRUNNER IN MA: The battle for governor erupted across party lines yesterday, as Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey labeled Democrat Christopher Gabrieli a tycoon in a television ad that says he would enrich himself through his proposal to provide $1 billion in public funds for stem cell and other life science research. Without waiting for the outcome of Tuesday's Democratic primary, Healey, the GOP's choice for governor, singled out Gabrieli, delighting Gabrieli's aides who saw her strategy as evidence that he is the strongest Democrat in the race. Healey's aides insisted that the ad was a response to television attack ads aimed at her this week by a Democrat-connected union group. The GOP foray into the Democratic primary battle came out of the blue and triggered a new round of television ads in the closing days before Tuesday's primary. Gabrieli launched a response ad that described the claims as petty politics. Boston Globe: Healey ad opens new front in primary

    PIRRO'S HUSBAND "THE GIFT THAT KEEPS GIVING [TO DEMS]": The husband of Republican attorney-general candidate Jeanine Pirro has landed in trouble again - nabbed yesterday for going more than twice the speed limit through a school zone. Al Pirro, 59, was clocked by police driving his Mercedes-Benz 51 mph in a 25 mph school zone in White Plains. It was the second speeding ticket in recent months for Pirro, already considered a major liability to his wife's campaign because of his felony conviction on tax-fraud charges and his fathering of a love child while married to Jeanine Pirro... "Al Pirro is the gift that keeps giving [to Democrats]," said one exasperated senior Republican operative. New York Post: FROM PIRRO TO 50

    CORZINE NOT HOT ON McGREEVEY'S "CONFESSION": Count Gov. Jon Corzine as one person who won't be racing out for former Gov. James E. McGreevey's new memoir next week. Speaking on 610 WIP Sports Talk Radio in Philadelphia yesterday, Corzine expressed little interest in reading his former political ally's new book. He also seemed displeased by McGreevey's promoting the book by giving out details about his secret gay life in a pre-recorded interview on the Oprah Winfrey show Tuesday. Asked by co-host Al Morganti what he thought about McGreevey profiting "on some of the mess" he made in the governor's office, Corzine responded: "I think Jim would have served himself a little better just to continue to go on and build his life. I don't know what's in the book, and I'm not particularly interested." Newark Star-Ledger: Corzine put off by 'prurience' in McGreevey book
  • Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 9/15/2006 08:47:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Thursday, September 14, 2006
    The Cafferty File: Detainee debate
    On "The Situation Room" today, we asked viewers the following questions, and here are some of our favorite responses that we didn't get to read on air:

    What does it mean that top Republicans are opposing President Bush on his military tribunal bill?

    When you are in power and know you have done wrong it is natural to try and change the rules to fit your crimes. It is also apparent that this administration has always overruled the military. Now three more military men are standing up and saying no to his outrageous policies. I have never been prouder of the military.
    Woody

    I would like to think it means the Republicans are finally "getting it"! Unfortunately I think it's just politics and they're covering their butts for the upcoming elections. If they're re-elected it will be back to usual in giving the king anything he wants.
    Jim, Land O Lakes, Florida

    Jack, it means some of the Republican top heads at the white house are likely to go on trial for war crimes and they know it.
    Nathan, Atlanta, Georgia

    Should the Pentagon reconsider its "don't ask, don't tell" policy for gays in the military?

    Our country needs every man and woman willing and able to serve in the military. A person's sexual inclinations should be of NO consideration. Other countries are able to recognize this. Why aren't we?
    Ramsey, Olympia, Washington

    I think that it's odd that we are willing to raise the minimum age requirement of U.S. military enlistees in order to hit annual recruiting goals, but we are still questioning gays in the military. Of course gays should be allowed to serve in the military! It is about time that we stop discriminating
    J.

    I don't think gays should be in the military. I have been in the Air Force nearly 15 years, and I have seen first-hand that it creates a breakdown in morale, distrust, and excludes them from being invited to a variety of duty and off-duty events.
    JW

    What should the United States do about the opium production in Afghanistan?

    In the short run, have the U.S. government buy the whole opium crop. It would be cheaper than fighting the problem. In the long run, teach the Afghans to grow other crops and develop industry, then give them a market. However, the Taliban and al Qaeda are a different and more urgent problem.
    Luis, Judson, Texas

    It would seem to me that there must be something we could dust the poppy crops with that would kill them. It should be a cheaper way to get rid of the heroin than what we are doing now, and a whole lot more effective.
    Christine, Greenleaf, Kansas

    Dear Jack, Make Afghanistan our 51st state and put them on the agricultural corn subsidy program, where you make money regardless of whether the crop comes in. They'll quickly abandon opium for the guaranteed annual payments.
    W.D., Seal Beach, California
    Posted By Jack Cafferty, CNN Commentator: 9/14/2006 05:48:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Powell breaks with Bush on amending Geneva Conventions
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Secretary of State Colin Powell publicly contested his former boss in a letter Wednesday, joining top GOP senators in opposing White House efforts to reinterpret the Geneva Conventions to protect CIA interrogators from war-crimes prosecutions.

    "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism," Powell said Wednesday in a letter to Sen. John McCain, whose amendment last year opposed the use of torture.

    "To redefine Common Article III [of the Geneva Conventions] would add to those doubts," Powell wrote. "Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk."

    McCain, with fellow Republican Sens. John Warner and Lindsay Graham, have stepped up their opposition recently to the Bush administration's plan to authorize trials for suspected terrorists, setting up a possible election-year showdown within GOP ranks. (Full story)

    Powell's opposition was made public as President Bush made a rare visit Thursday to Capitol Hill, where he met with the House Armed Service Committee.
    Posted By CNN's Congressional Unit: 9/14/2006 11:06:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Musharraf, Karzai to visit White House this month
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Later this month, President Bush will host two prominent leaders from east central Asia, a focal point of the war on terrorism, the White House said Thursday.

    Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf will meet with the president in Washington on September 22. Four days later, President Hamid Karzai from Pakistan's neighbor, Afghanistan, will visit the White House.
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/14/2006 11:01:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Segway scooters roll to a stop
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Government regulators put the brakes on the much-hyped Segway transporter, after reports of six injuries prompted the company to issue a voluntary recall, the Consumer Product Safety Corporation (CPSC) announced Thursday.

    The Bedford, New Hampshire-based Segway Inc. recalled 23,500 Segway transporters -- including the PT i167, i170, i180, p133, XT, GT, i2 and e167 models -- because they can "unexpectedly apply reverse torque to the wheels, which can cause a rider to fall," a statement from the CPSC said.

    Segway creator Dean Kamen drummed up much anticipation for the launch of his invention in December, 2001, saying it would transform the way people work and live.

    Consumers should immediately stop using their Segways and call the company to get a free software upgrade, the CPSC said.
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/14/2006 10:49:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Dems step up efforts to oust Rumsfeld


    Democrats have targeted Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in part of a larger effort to slam the Bush administration's Iraq policy.

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- More Democrats on Wednesday joined the chorus demanding Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld step aside, citing his stewardship of the Iraq war and the preparedness of the U.S. Army, among other issues.

    Rep. John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) introduced a House resolution accusing Rumsfeld of several miscues -- including capping the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, poor post-war planning in Iraq, inadequately training or equipping troops and misleading Americans on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction -- and calling for his immediate replacement.

    Murtha also cited a 12-page report by himself and Rep. David Obey (D-Wisconsin) that said the Army's preparedness is at "levels not witnessed by our country in decades," with roughly half its units "at the lowest level of military readiness."

    Later Wednesday, the Army released a statement detailing what it called "a number of inaccuracies" -- most of them concerning recruiting and retention rates, as well as claims drug and alcohol abuse had "skyrocketed" -- in the Murtha-Obey report.

    Sen. Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) echoed Murtha's denunciation of Rumsfeld, saying on the Senate floor that the secretary had "misread the Iraqi situation entirely."

    In addition to lambasting President Bush and Vice President Cheney, Byrd called the GOP-controlled Congress "a lap dog wagging its tail in appreciation of White House secrecy and deception."
    Posted By CNN's Congressional Unit: 9/14/2006 10:19:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Skeptical Rice pushes forward on Iran sanctions
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice vowed Wednesday to push forward with sanctions against Iran, despite ongoing talks and reports Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expressed openness to new conditions.

    Iran cancelled a meeting Thursday between its top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and European Union policy chief Javier Solana, according to Rice. (Full story)

    "We have always believed that the path was very clear for the Iranians -- suspend [activity on nuclear programs] and go down the path of negotiation," Rice said, or the international community would impose sanctions through the United Nations. "It's quite clear we're on the path of the [U.N.] Security Council."

    EU allies, meanwhile, stressed that it was not too late for talks, who want to discuss a tentative Iranian offer to temporarily halt enrichment of uranium for nuclear fuel, according to Reuters.

    Another Reuters report said Ahmadinejad, in comments Thursday, favored dialogue and was open to what he called new conditions.

    Diplomats from the five permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany, will meet during next week's General Assembly session in New York.
    Posted By Elise Labott, CNN State Department Unit: 9/14/2006 10:02:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Rice cautious on possible Palestinian unity government
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The top American and Israeli diplomats expressed skepticism Wednesday as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas makes strides towards forming a unity government that includes Hamas.

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni both said that any new Palestinian government would not like receive international aid unless it renounced terrorism and accepted Israel's right to exist.

    Abbas has been trying to form a unity government that includes members of his Fatah faction along with legislators from Hamas, the militant group that won parliamentary elections in January.

    Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist, has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union -- both of which cut off international aid to the Palestinian government after Hamas's electoral win.
    Posted By Elise Labott, CNN State Department Unit: 9/14/2006 09:36:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Senate Republicans, White House at odds over tribunals


    Sens. John Warner, left, and John McCain have led GOP Senate opposition to the White House bill.

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Three Republican senators stepped up their opposition Wednesday to the Bush administration's plan to authorize trials for suspected terrorists, setting up a possible election-year showdown within GOP ranks.

    Sen. John Warner said the Armed Services Committee, which he chairs, will meet Thursday morning to craft an alternative bill. The White House believes a reinterpretation of Article III of the Geneva Conventions -- which covers the treatment of people captured out-of-uniform -- are needed to protect CIA interrogators from war-crimes prosecutions. (Full story)

    "I'm begging we don't cross that line, because we need not to," said Sen. Lindsay Graham, a judge in the Air Force Reserve.

    Sen. John McCain -- a former prisoner of war in the Vietnam War -- released a letter from retired Army Gen. John Vessey in reiterating his opposition to the president's plan. In the letter, Vessey -- chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Reagan administration -- said the measure "would undermine the moral basis which has generally guided our conduct in war throughout our history."

    Vessey echoed the dissenting senators in warning that altering U.S. rules on prisoner treatment might subject future U.S. prisoners in other countries and other wars to their captors' whims. Military lawyers also have raised concerns about the administration bill's restrictions on due-process rights for defendants

    Warner's move appears to indicate that talks with the administration -- aimed at achieving a unified Republican bill -- have stalled.

    The House Armed Services Committee, by a 52-8 vote, sent the administration bill to the full chamber. Its chairman, Rep. Duncan Hunter, told CNN the committee voted against Democratic changes that included "a more liberal package of defendant's rights."
    Posted By Ted Barrett, CNN Congressional Unit: 9/14/2006 09:03:00 AM ET | Permalink
    The Morning Grind
    (A first look at today's political news)

  • The President begins his day on Capitol Hill, speaking to the House Republican Conference at 9:30 am ET. He is expected to ask GOP members "divided by the politics of war to support his drive for more power to spy on, imprison and interrogate terrorism suspects," reports the AP.

    At 11:00 am ET, Bush will meet with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.

    Tonight, at 7:45 pm ET, President and Mrs. Bush "participate in a Social Dinner in Honor of The Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz," followed by entertainment at the White House.

  • In what Democrats dismiss as "election-year politics," the House "is expected to approve nearly 700 miles of new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border today," reports the Washington Times. Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois) and the GOP leadership will hold a news conference on border security at 1:00 pm ET.

  • The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

  • The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

  • Former Texas Governor Ann Richards died Wednesday after a six-month battle with cancer. She was 73. "Richards was the quintessential Texas woman," says the Houston Chronicle, "with a sassy homespun charm, sharp wit and tough pioneer spirit."

  • A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows Dems lead Republicans 48-39 "in voters' preference of which party they want to control Congress."

  • An ABC News poll showed registered voters favored Dems 50-42, "a narrower Democratic advantage than the 13-point lead they held all summer, and half what it was last January."

  • And something to look forward to... election officials are saying the 2006 vote is shaping up to be "the most technologically perilous since 2000." Why? Find out in Hot Topics below!
    *****

    Political Hot Topics
    (Today's top political stories from news organizations across the country)

    FORMER TX GOV ANN RICHARDS DIES AFTER BATTLE WITH CANCER: Ann Richards, who shed the role of homemaker to rise through Texas politics to become the state's 45th governor and a national celebrity, died Wednesday after a six-month battle with cancer. She was 73. Richards was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in March. Richards was the quintessential Texas woman, with a sassy homespun charm, sharp wit and tough pioneer spirit. With bright silver hair, a weathered face and an affinity for cobalt blue suits and pearls, Richards was instantly recognizable to national television audiences... Polls showed Richards was the most personally popular governor in 30 years. But a liberal image kept her job approval rating beneath 50 percent, and she lost her 1994 re-election bid to Republican George W. Bush, the future president. Houston Chronicle: Groundbreaking politician, quintessential Texas woman

    DEMS ALLOW GOP "TO FIGHT AMONG THEMSELVES" ON WIRETAPS, TRYING TERROR SUSPECTS: The White House took a critical step on Wednesday in its effort to get Congressional blessing for President Bush's domestic eavesdropping program, but it ran into increasingly fierce resistance from leading Republicans over its plan to try terror suspects being held in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The mixed results signaled the tough road the White House faces in trying to sell the two key planks in its national security agenda to sometimes skeptical Congressional Republicans less than two months before the midterm elections. Democrats have allowed Republicans to fight among themselves over the issues, and appear willing to allow the issues to come to a vote rather than risk charges of political obstructionism in an election season. New York Times: Panel in Senate Backs Bush Plan for Eavesdropping

    BUSH GOING TO THE HILL TO "RALLY GOP": President Bush will be facing a tough crowd as he steps behind closed doors to ask House Republicans divided by the politics of war to support his drive for more power to spy on, imprison and interrogate terrorism suspects. For Bush, the unusual visit to Capitol Hill on Thursday caps a week of high-profile administration pressure to rescue bills mired in turf battles and privacy concerns. It also gives GOP leaders a chance to press for loyalty among Republicans confronted on the campaign trail by war-weary voters. AP via Yahoo! News: Bush to go to Capitol Hill to rally GOP

    U.N. INSPECTORS CALL HOUSE REPORT ON IRAN "OUTRAGEOUS AND DISHONEST": U.N. inspectors investigating Iran's nuclear program angrily complained to the Bush administration and to a Republican congressman yesterday about a recent House committee report on Iran's capabilities, calling parts of the document "outrageous and dishonest" and offering evidence to refute its central claims. Officials of the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency said in a letter that the report contained some "erroneous, misleading and unsubstantiated statements." The letter, signed by a senior director at the agency, was addressed to Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), chairman of the House intelligence committee, which issued the report. A copy was hand-delivered to Gregory L. Schulte, the U.S. ambassador to the IAEA in Vienna. Washington Post: U.N. Inspectors Dispute Iran Report By House Panel

    NBC/WSJ POLL SHOWS VOTERS PREFER DEM-CONTROLLED CONGRESS 48-39: Less than two months until Election Day, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that more than half of registered voters disapprove of President Bush's job performance, even more disagree with his handling of Iraq and a strong plurality prefer a Congress controlled by the Democrats -- all suggesting that Democrats are still poised to pick up seats in the upcoming midterms... According to the survey, 42 percent of registered voters approve of Bush's job -- up from the 40 percent who said that in July's NBC/Journal poll. In addition, only 38 percent approve of his handling of Iraq, but that's an increase of three percentage points since that last poll... Also in the poll, Democrats hold a nine-point advantage over Republicans (48 percent to 39 percent) in voters' preference of which party they want to control Congress. NBC News: Dems seem likely to pick up midterm seats

    TERRORISM HELPS GOP CLOSE GAP: Terrorism has inched up in importance in the 2006 midterm elections and Republicans have regained an edge in trust to handle it - helping George W. Bush's party move closer to the Democrats in congressional vote preference. The Republicans lead the Democrats in trust to handle terrorism by 48-41 percent among registered voters in this ABC News poll, a flip from a seven-point Democratic advantage last month. And 16 percent now call terrorism the top issue in their vote, a slight five point gain... All told, 50 percent of registered voters now favor the Democratic congressional candidate in their C.D., 42 percent the Republican - a narrower Democratic advantage than the 13-point lead they held all summer, and half what it was last January. It's a similar 51-44 percent among likely voters. ABC News: Republicans Inch Closer in '06 Election Preference (pdf)

    '06 SHAPES UP TO BE "MOST TECHNOLOGICALLY PERILOUS SINCE 2000": Eight weeks before elections that will decide control of Congress, a rush by state and local governments to prepare new voting machines and train poll workers is raising the possibility of trouble reminiscent of the 2000 presidential election standoff. Problems range from delayed delivery of new equipment to an insufficient supply of trained technicians to fix anticipated problems, voting experts say. Already this year, glitches have occurred in Arkansas, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia. Maryland became the latest on Tuesday, when technical problems, human errors and staff shortages led officials to keep some polls open an extra hour. The fall elections shape up as the most technologically perilous since 2000, election officials say, because 30% of the nation's voting jurisdictions will be using new equipment. USA Today: Election glitches 'could get ugly'

    ADMIN EXPLORES "OTHER WAYS TO KEEP [BOLTON] IN THE JOB": President Bush's nomination of John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations appears increasingly endangered in the Senate, prompting the administration to explore other ways to keep him in the job after his temporary appointment expires in January, officials said yesterday. The situation represents a sharp turnaround from two weeks ago, when the White House was confident it could finally push through Bolton's long-stalled nomination. But last week's surprise move by Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee (R-R.I.) to delay a vote convinced Republicans on Capitol Hill that the nomination may be doomed, prompting a search for alternatives. Administration officials said they have not given up. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called Chafee yesterday to kick off a lobbying campaign that will continue today when he returns to Washington after his hard-fought Republican primary victory in Rhode Island on Tuesday. Washington Post: White House Seeks a Way to Keep Bolton at the U.N.

    HOUSE "EXPECTED TO APPROVE" 700-MILE BORDER FENCE: The House is expected to approve nearly 700 miles of new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border today as part of a final effort by House Republicans to place major border-security legislation on President Bush's desk before the November elections. The Secure Fence Act, which is nearly identical to an amendment the House easily approved last year, would deploy cameras, ground sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor the border. In addition, it would change current policy to give Border Patrol agents the authority to forcibly disable fleeing vehicles along the border. Washington Times: House set to OK border-fence bill

    AFTER HOURS OF DEBATE, 9/11 RESOLUTION PASSED ON 9/13: Partisan pre-election jockeying over the war on terrorism ratcheted up Wednesday as the House overwhelmingly passed a 9/11 commemorative resolution that Democrats said was unduly politicized, but Republicans defended as saluting actions they said have prevented another attack on the United States. In more than five hours of debate that preceded the 395-22 vote, talk of unity in the face of a terrorist threat was overshadowed by partisan differences over wording of the resolution, which included praise for such actions as passing the Patriot Act and House approval of an immigration act that critics said is anti-immigrant and unworkable. San Francisco Chronicle: Contentious House passes 9/11 resolution

    NOVAK WOULD LIKE TO CLARIFY WHAT ARMITAGE "REALLY DID": "When Richard Armitage finally acknowledged last week he was my source three years ago in revealing Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA employee, the former deputy secretary of state's interviews obscured what he really did. I want to set the record straight based on firsthand knowledge. First, Armitage did not, as he now indicates, merely pass on something he had heard and that he "thought" might be so. Rather, he identified to me the CIA division where Mrs. Wilson worked, and said flatly that she recommended the mission to Niger by her husband, former Ambasador Joseph Wilson. Second, Armitage did not slip me this information as idle chitchat, as he now suggests. He made clear he considered it especially suited for my column." Chicago Sun-Times: The real story behind the Armitage story

    "SHORT OF A CRIME, ANYTHING GOES AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS" OF INTERIOR: The Interior Department's chief official responsible for investigating abuses and overseeing operations accused the top officials at the agency on Wednesday of tolerating widespread ethical failures, from cronyism to cover-ups of incompetence. "Simply stated, short of a crime, anything goes at the highest levels of the Department of the Interior," charged Earl E. Devaney, the Interior Department's inspector general, at a hearing of the House Government Reform subcommittee on energy. "I have observed one instance after another when the good work of my office has been disregarded by the department," he continued. "Ethics failures on the part of senior department officials -- taking the form of appearances of impropriety, favoritism and bias - have been routinely dismissed with a promise 'not to do it again.'" New York Times: Interior Official Assails Agency for Ethics Slide

    NEXT DEM WHIP... CLYBURN OR EMANUEL? With political pundits predicting that Democrats will recapture the House this fall, Democratic lawmakers are debating who would become the majority whip: Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), moving up one step from caucus chairman, or Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the campaign wizard who would have orchestrated the victory. Although only Clyburn has declared his interest in the position, the escalating rivalry between the two was on display this week when news broke that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) would funnel $60,000 into each of 40 House districts, breaking a stalemate between the DNC and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Several Democratic officials credited Clyburn with brokering the deal... Allies of Emanuel, however, dispute Clyburn's influence, arguing that the agreement was engineered solely between staff. The Hill: Clyburn v. Rahm for whip

    MODERATES MAY BE AN ENDANGERED SPECIES: In Rhode Island, moderate Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee defeated a challenge Tuesday from a much more conservative opponent - a result that cheered GOP centrists, who have seen their influence wane within their party... But elsewhere, centrists struggled in several of Tuesday's contests. Candidates identified with their party's ideological vanguard won a closely watched Republican House primary in Arizona and a Democratic House primary in New Hampshire. In Maryland, Democratic Rep. Albert R. Wynn held a narrow lead pending a final tally of uncounted ballots against a liberal challenger who denounced his vote for the Iraq war. "Despite Chafee's success... the trend toward increasing polarization continues," said Alan Abramowitz, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta. "That doesn't mean moderates can't survive - but it's difficult." Los Angeles Times: Survival Is No Cakewalk for Moderates

    DEMS FACE OFF BEFORE MA GOV PRIMARY: The three Democratic candidates for governor picked apart one another's positions on taxes, education, and crime in a robust debate last night, but avoided the rancor that dominated a similar face-off last week. In their final appearance together before Tuesday's primary, Deval L. Patrick, Christopher F. Gabrieli, and Thomas F. Reilly offered primary voters strongly differing visions of how to roll back the state income tax and bickered over the value of charter schools and whether their campaign had taken an unecessarily harsh turn. Patrick, who has taken a lead in recent polls, appeared at times defensive and off balance. His two rivals targeted him in the debate, suggesting he was vague in his proposals. Gabrieli asked Patrick at one point: "You have been in the race a year and a half; got any specifics?" Boston Globe: Democrats clash over taxes, crime, education

    ARNOLD REALLY HAS TO SECURE THAT WEB SITE: A Los Angeles talk radio station says it easily accessed the same part of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Web site that his Democratic rival's campaign used to obtain a private conversation and leak it to a newspaper. "We've been hacking them for years, if this is hacking," Jason Nathanson, a former producer for the Jon Ziegler show on KFI 640-AM in Los Angeles, said on the show Tuesday night. AP via Yahoo! News: Talk show accessed Schwarzenegger's site
  • Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 9/14/2006 08:49:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Wednesday, September 13, 2006
    The Cafferty File: Image problem?
    On "The Situation Room" today, we asked viewers the following questions, and here are some of our favorite responses that we didn't get to read on air:

    What does the U.S. have to do to improve its image among developing countries?
    Our image around the world might change if we took a mop and cleaned both Democrats and Republicans off the floors of both houses, then move the current administration out of the White House.
    Colline, Highland, Michigan

    I hate to say it but, who really cares what they think of us? I'm sick of this stuff, why should we try to make them like us. No matter what we do it isn't going to work. They want to hate us.
    Chan

    We simply need to stop being imperialists because many of these developing countries are countries which we have victimized in the past.
    K.

    The U.S. needs to be a fair player, and Americans need to stop believing that our foreign policy is fueled by goodness and morality. A quick check of history will reveal otherwise. We have been duplicitous and deceitful imperialists for the last 100 years.
    John, Ashtabula, Ohio

    Should it be a priority for the House to pass a bill commemorating 9/11 today?

    Dear Jack, I am unable to wrap my mind around the fact that Congress debates horse meat and 9-11 commemorations when so many unbelievably weighty issues are out there begging for attention. My question to the electorate: "How's this workin' for ya?"
    Corey, Bellingham, Washington

    Aw, c'mon Jack! Nobody else is gonna give them a pat on the back. Let them congratulate themselves for uniting on something for a change.
    Eric, Toronto, Ontario

    This Congress (dominated by Republicans) has been the worst in U.S. history. Any legislation they pass is meaningless drivel.
    Bob, Coconut Creek, Florida

    I think it's way past time to pass a bill to commemorate 9/11. It should have been done two or three years ago, but I'm sure the Democrats will find something wrong with the bill as they have every other bill that has been debated on the hill.
    Bruce, Creston, Iowa

    Yes, Jack, this should be the highest priority. As long as they are working on this, they can't screw anything else up.
    Bill, Spring Hill, Florida

    What does Sen. Lincoln Chafee's win mean for the Republican Party?

    Senator Chaffee's victory means that there is balance in the country. Chaffee thinking he is a Republican is the equivalent of Lieberman thinking he is a Democrat. I thought we had hit the bottom of the rabbit hole, but it appears that we are still falling. Go ask Alice I think she'll know.
    LuLu, Rockville, Maryland

    If Chaffee is elected, there will be one Senator that puts America first and the Republican Party second. Wow, is that different!
    Paul, Venice, Florida

    That the Republican Party is in as much trouble with the voters as they think they are.
    Johnny, Henderson, Texas

    It means Congresspersons that have been publicly against White House policy have a chance of being re-elected.
    Jim, Oregon
    Posted By Jack Cafferty, CNN Commentator: 9/13/2006 05:40:00 PM ET | Permalink
    The Situation Online: Bill Clinton & blogs, pork bill, spacewalk
    Bill and the blogs
    Former President Bill Clinton hosted over a dozen liberal bloggers at his offices in Harlem yesterday over a meal of Southern Chicken and cornbread. We'll explore why they met and look into what Hillary's campaign web strategist was doing there.

    Googling pork
    After weeks of procedural snafus and Senate secrecy, a bill creating a Google-like search engine of government spending looks primed to pass a house vote today. We take a look at how online activism was vital in pushing this transparency bill forward.

    NASA nuts and bolts
    During today's spacewalk (Windows Media video) by the crew of Space Shuttle Atlantis, NASA today said another bolt has gone missing from the International Space Station. It's the second bolt that the astronauts have lost in two spacewalks. What does this mean for the safety of the space station?

    Cyber terror
    Could the United States fend off a disabling cyber attack? That's what the massive government exercise code-named "Cyber Storm" intended to find out. Today, the Department of Homeland Security released the results (PDF) of that test.
    Posted By The Situation Online Producers: 9/13/2006 04:56:00 PM ET | Permalink
    The Morning Grind
    (A first look at today's political news)

  • The President attends a Republican National Committee reception at 12:35 pm ET at Evermay in Georgetown. The event is expected to raise $850K, says the RNC.

  • A Democratic official tells the Grind that Rep. John Murtha (D-Pennsylvania) today will "speak out on the (Iraq) war's negative impact on military readiness and will announce plans to introduce a no confidence resolution on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld."

  • The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

  • The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

  • Sen. Lincoln Chafee won Rhode Island's GOP Senate primary, 54.2-45.8. "The turnout of 63,459 smashed the record turnout for a Rhode Island GOP primary," reports the Providence Journal-Bulletin.

  • Keith Ellison won Minnesota's DFL nomination to replace Rep. Martin Sabo (D-Minnesota) in Congress, "placing him on the verge of becoming the first Muslim elected to Congress."

  • Adrian Fenty won the DC Democratic mayoral primary. The Washington Post reports he is "virtually guaranteed to sweep the general election in November."

    Check out full coverage of primary results from across the country below!

  • And the New York Times goes junior high today with a report on a potential romantic link for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Which "single, sophisticated foreign minister" are bored diplomatic reporters "engaging in baseless speculating" about? Find out in Hot Topics below!
    *****

    DEMS PROTEST OVER NSA-PROVIDED TALKING POINTS ON SURVEILLANCE: Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee are complaining that the National Security Agency has played politics in support of the secret program to intercept phone calls between alleged terrorists in the United States and abroad. On July 27, shortly after most members of the committee were briefed on the controversial surveillance program, the NSA supplied the panel's chairman, Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), with "a set of administration approved, unclassified talking points for the members to use," as described in the document. Among the talking points were "subjective statements that appear intended to advance a particular policy view and present certain facts in the best possible light," Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) said in a letter to the NSA director. Washington Post: Democrats Call NSA's Input To Senate Panel Inappropriate

    BOEHNER ON DEMS: "I WONDER IF THEY'RE MORE INTERESTED IN PROTECTING THE TERRORISTS THAN PROTECTING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE": House Republican leader John Boehner, just a day after the Sept. 11 anniversary, thrust his party's election-year emphasis on national security back into the spotlight Tuesday when he said he "wondered" if Democrats were more interested in safeguarding the rights of accused terrorists than protecting Americans. The Ohio Republican's statement came after President Bush's Sept. 11 anniversary speech Monday evening drew the anger of Democrats who charged that it lapsed into partisanship. The highly charged rhetoric showed that the confluence of terrorism, national security and the war in Iraq is a key issue in a bitterly fought midterm election campaign in which polls and prognosticators say Democrats could make significant gains into the Republican majority. San Francisco Chronicle: A GOP leader takes terror swipe at Dems

    DEMS ARGUE BUSH GAVE "POLITICIZED" 9/11 SPEECH: As White House officials sought approval from television executives for a coveted prime-time broadcast of President Bush's Oval Office address commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, they said publicly that the speech would steer clear of politics... But Bush's inclusion in his remarks Monday night of a stout defense of his policies in Iraq - as well as his suggestion that a united front was needed on the subject - sent Democrats scrambling to issue late-night responses and prompted at least one network to adjust its programming to make time for political analysis. And the controversy continued Tuesday, as debate flared over whether Bush inappropriately politicized a day set aside for memorials and solemn reflection... [House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sent letters to network news executives Tuesday asking for more coverage of Democrats' views as part of reporting on Bush's war-related speeches. Los Angeles Times: Bush Politicized a Solemn Day, Democrats Say

    CHERTOFF: LET'S NOT GO BANKRUPT "TRYING TO DEFEND OURSELVES AGAINST EVERY CONCEIVABLE THREAT": Congress and the American public must accept that the government cannot protect every possible target against attack if it wants to avoid fulfilling Al Qaeda's goal of bankrupting the nation, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told a Senate committee Tuesday. Osama bin Laden, Mr. Chertoff said, has made it clear that scaring the United States into an unsustainable spending spree is one of his aims. In a 2004 video, Mr. bin Laden, the Qaeda leader, spoke of "bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy." "He understood that one tool he had in waging war against the United States was to drive us crazy, into bankruptcy, trying to defend ourselves against every conceivable threat," Mr. Chertoff said at a hearing of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. New York Times: U.S. Can't Protect All Targets, Chertoff Says

    STOP SAYING "ISLAMIC FASCISTS," SAYS FEINGOLD: Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold called on President Bush to refrain from using the phrase "Islamic fascists," saying it was offensive to Muslims and has nothing to do with terrorists fighting the United States. "We must avoid using misleading and offensive terms that link Islam with those who subvert this great religion or who distort its teachings to justify terrorist activities," Feingold said Tuesday in a speech to the Arab American Institute on Capitol Hill. The Wisconsin senator, a potential 2008 presidential candidate, said the label "Islamic fascists" makes no sense and doesn't help the U.S. effort to combat terrorism. AP via Yahoo! News: Sen. Feingold faults Bush's war language

    DNC, DCCC UNITE ON GOTV EFFORT: After months of behind-the-scenes infighting and public name-calling, leaders of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reached agreement yesterday on a funding program to underwrite get-out-the-vote operations in the November elections. The national party agreed to put $12 million into voter-mobilization efforts this fall, with $2.4 million of it earmarked for 40 key House districts that are seen as competitive. The rest of the money will go to help candidates for Senate and governor and for outreach to the party's key constituencies. Washington Post: Democratic Forces Salve Wounds

    RNC WILL SPEND FIVE TIMES AS MUCH... $60M: The Republican National Committee (RNC) will spend its entire bank account, $60 million or more, helping Republicans try to retain control of Congress in the midterm elections. The looming spending spree appears to have spurred Democratic House leaders to reach agreement over how much the Democratic National Committee (DNC) will help counter this onslaught. The Hill: Mehlman to spend $60M, five times Dean's $12M

    LARGE TURNOUT HELPS RI'S CHAFEE FEND OFF LAFFEY: Republican Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee, fueled by a furious grass-roots campaign that produced a record GOP primary voter turnout, won Senate renomination yesterday, beating back a spirited challenge from Cranston Mayor Stephen P. Laffey, the combative conservative. On a sun-splashed late summer day, conventional Rhode Island political wisdom turned out to be correct -- that a large turnout would play to the advantage of Chafee... With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Chafee led Laffey 54.2 percent to 45.8 percent. The turnout of 63,459 smashed the record turnout for a Rhode Island GOP primary. Providence Journal-Bulletin: Chafee staves off challenger

    CARDIN LEADS BY 8... : Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin held a substantial lead over friend and former colleague Kweisi Mfume in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate early this morning, leaving Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele waiting to learn who his opponent would be in one of the most closely watched general election races in the nation. As of 5:30 a.m. with more than 93 percent of the precincts reporting, Cardin led Mfume by 8 percentage points, 46 percent to 38 percent, but the outcome of that contest and others could hinge on the tabulation of nearly 27,000 Democratic absentee ballots and thousands of provisional ballots. As expected, Steele easily won the Republican nomination for the seat now occupied by Democratic Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes. Baltimore Sun: Cardin in strong lead; Schaefer in jeopardy

    FENTY WINS DC DEM MAYOR PRIMARY... A LOCK FOR NOVEMBER: Adrian M. Fenty won the Democratic nomination for D.C. mayor last night, trouncing Linda W. Cropp in the primary for the city's highest elected post after promising voters he would bring new energy and ideas to tackle long-standing problems. Fenty, the Ward 4 D.C. Council member, defeated Cropp, the longtime council chairman, by about 57 percent to 31 percent, with almost all precincts counted. The winners in the primary are virtually guaranteed to sweep the general election in November in the majority-Democrat city. Washington Post: Fenty Prevails in Mayor's Race

    SPITZER WINS 81-19 IN NY GOV PRIMARY: Eliot Spitzer coasted to an easy win in yesterday's Democratic primary for governor, trouncing Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and turning his sights to another underdog - Republican rival John Faso. Spitzer, the state's two-term attorney general, sailed to victory, 81% to 19%, on a reputation burnished by taking on Wall Street and Washington - and bolstered by lavish campaign spending. "On day one, we will begin giving you a government that's open, accountable and ready to get taxes and spending under control," Spitzer vowed before cheering supporters at a Harlem restaurant last night. "And, above all, day one is when we will start to build a 21st century New York that can be competitive in a 21st cen.tury economy." New York Daily News: Spitzer in runaway victory over Suozzi

    CUOMO DEFEATS MARK GREEN IN NY AG RACE... WILL TAKE ON PIRRO IN NOV: Andrew Cuomo capped a bitter Democratic primary campaign for attorney general last night with an easy victory over Mark Green. Cuomo, the son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo and himself a former federal housing secretary, was leading Green, 53 to 33 percent, with 96 percent of the precincts reported as of 11 p.m. "Tonight, you made me the comeback candidate," Cuomo told supporters, in a reference to his failed gubernatorial campaign four years ago. "Now let's make the state of New York the comeback state." New York Post: ANDY IN EASY VICTORY OVER
    FADED GREEN


    CLINTON "BARELY ACKNOWLEDGED HAVING A CHALLENGER AT ALL": Primary Day came and went with little fanfare for Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. She gave no victory party. There was no balloon drop. With the exception of an early-morning appearance to vote for herself in the Democratic primary at a mostly deserted polling station near her home here, Mrs. Clinton barely acknowledged having a challenger at all... With her only New York event of the day completed, Mrs. Clinton and her husband slipped back into their new hybrid sport utility vehicle and sped off for the airport. New York Times: At the Finish Line in New York, Clinton Forgoes a Victory Dance

    ELLISON WINS IN MN... POSITIONED TO BE 1ST MUSLIM ELECTED TO CONGRESS: State Rep. Keith Ellison overcame setbacks and questions about his past to win the DFL nomination to succeed U.S. Rep. Martin Sabo, placing him on the verge of becoming the first Muslim elected to Congress. Ellison's victory ended a hard-fought primary contest considered too close to call even as the results began to come in Tuesday night. In the end, it turned into a three-way contest and Ellison received more than 41 percent of the vote, a stronger finish than observers forecast. He now faces opponents from the Republican, Independence and Green parties. The 43-year-old Detroit native is in position to become the first black person elected to Congress from Minnesota. Minneapolis Star-Tribune: In Fifth District DFL race, Ellison outran opponents

    MUNSIL TO TAKE ON NAPOLITANO FOR AZ GOV: Conservative activist Len Munsil, one of the state's leading voices against abortion and gay marriage, will compete with Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano in what should become a fierce general election battle over illegal immigration, social issues and the economy in the coming weeks. Emerging from a four-man field, Munsil soundly defeated GOP rival Don Goldwater in a race that sparked little interest and light turnout among voters because of the sparse amount of campaign funds. Despite being perceived as a heavy underdog, Munsil said he is eager to tussle with Napolitano in the Nov. 7 general election where each will get about $680,000 in public campaign funds for their statewide campaign. Munsil hopes to ride a wave of momentum from his nearly double-digit primary victory, combining that with his loyal network of social conservatives and endorsement by Arizona Sen. John McCain. Arizona Republic: Munsil vs. Napolitano

    OH COIN DEALER SENTENCED TO 27 MONTHS FOR ILLEGAL DONATIONS: Saying Thomas W. Noe was guilty of "ego-feeding and a stupid act," a federal judge yesterday sentenced the prominent Republican donor to two years and three months in federal prison for illegally funneling $45,400 to President Bush's re-election campaign... Noe, whose activities sparked the ethics and investment scandals that have rocked state politics, pleaded guilty May 31 to three federal felony charges related to giving money to 24 friends and associates so they could contribute to Bush in their names. The former Maumee coin dealer already had given the maximum amount, and prosecutors said he wanted to get credit as a Bush "Pioneer." Columbus Dispatch: Noe given 27 months in prison

    ANGELIDES CAMPAIGN GAVE TAPES TO LAT: The acknowledgement Tuesday that the campaign of Democrat Phil Angelides leaked an embarrassing tape of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the news media set off a new clash between the warring camps over the standards of political ethics in a world dominated by the Internet. Although a criminal investigation continues into allegations of computer hacking, the manager of Angelides' gubernatorial campaign said members of her staff found four hours of Schwarzenegger's private tapes while perusing the governor's Web site and turned a small snippet over to the Los Angeles Times. The six-minute section of the tape included comments by the governor attributing the passionate temperament of Cubans and Puerto Ricans to a combination of "black blood" and "Latino blood" -- comments that Schwarzenegger has apologized for. San Francisco Chronicle: Angelides camp admits leak to press

    ELECTION LAWYERS SAY BIDEN SHOULD TAKE IT EASY WITH THE '08 TALK: Playing down one's own presidential ambitions is a time-honored tradition in Washington, D.C. But Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) appears to have decided to forgo the intrigue and just swan-dive right in - a gambit that could draw the ire of federal regulators. When asked, Biden has stated that he's already thrown his hat in the ring, a strategy an aide said would show he's "straight with voters." But while the Delaware Senator's eschewing of the tried-and-true linguistic somersaults may help him at the polls, some election lawyers say that candor could land Biden in hot water with the Federal Election Commission, for the transgression of undeclared campaigning. Roll Call: Saying Too Much?

    CONDI LINKED TO CANADIAN FM? It took a two-hour flight to Halifax, Nova Scotia, this week, followed by a 90-minute motorcade north up Highway 102 to Pictou County, for Ms. Rice to find herself linked to someone with similar star appeal: Peter MacKay of Canada, the single, sophisticated foreign minister, routinely named Canada's sexiest M.P. by The Hill Times in Ottawa, and the closest thing to eye candy on the diplomatic circuit. Tall, athletic, young, blond and recently dumped by his girlfriend, a fellow member of Parliament, Belinda Stronach, who parted with him when she switched parties, Mr. MacKay does not look like your usual foreign minister. He has a tan and the build of someone who spends his time on the rugby field, not holed up reading G-8 communiques. Sure, at 40 years old, he is younger than Ms. Rice, who is 51, but that did not stop gossips from engaging in baseless speculating. New York Times: Dance of Diplomacy Is Grist for the Gossip Mill
  • Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 9/13/2006 08:54:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Tuesday, September 12, 2006
    The Cafferty File: Helping hand from Iran?
    On "The Situation Room" today, we asked viewers the following questions, and here are some of our favorite responses that we didn't get to read on air:

    What does it mean if Iran says it will help Iraq's government establish security?

    When the Iran of 2006 says it will help the Iraq of 2006 establish security in a united Iraq, that means the Iranian Shia have agreed to help the Iraqi Shia defeat the Iraqi Sunni. In other words, 21st century Iran is willing to resume the longest conventional war of the 20th Century against its long-time enemy, the Sunnis. We may not have established democracy in Iraq, but we've done a heck of a job of restoring and expanding the old Persian Empire.
    John

    Iran and Iraq united. Now that's a weapon of mass destruction.
    Steve, Birmingham, Alabama

    There is only one bond between all the Islamic nations of the world and that is the destruction of the U.S. and Israel. We only have ourselves to blame because of our addiction to oil. Imagine how depleted the terrorist treasuries would be without American oil monies.
    Joseph, Oceanside, California

    Iran vowing to help restore security in Iraq? Iran is one of the major contributors to insecurity in Iraq. Call Tony Soprano; this sounds like a "protection racket" to me.
    Mike, Colorado Springs, Colorado

    Is Arizona's voter ID law a good idea?

    No, it is not a good idea, it is the right idea. Why should people not legally part of this country be able to affect the outcome of an election?
    Brett, Idaho Falls, Idaho

    If you want to disenfranchise the poor, it's a great idea! Unless government ID's are provided free of charge, then those who don't have the $10 to spare or whatever else these ID's will cost will be effectively disenfranchised.
    Wendy, San Rafael, California

    It appalls me that there are states that do not require a voter registration card plus ID to be able to cast a vote. It is a privilege to vote in this country, and those who are eligible should not feel encumbered by having to show proof of registration and ID. I agree with Arizona's new law.
    Marilyn

    I think it's a great law, but since when is a good policy a good idea in this government?
    Stefan

    Should Congress pass a law that would prevent members of the Bush administration from being prosecuted for war crimes?

    To allow such actions in America's own government is to destroy all the values which this country was brought up on. If the Bush administration thinks that they can gain immunity to America's own law, then they have destroyed the social contract.
    Mike, California

    R-e-l-a-x! Read the bill again. You're really taking it over the edge. This administration will keep us safer.
    Mike, Parma, Ohio

    Immunity for war crimes? Sounds great! While they're at it, can Congress get me a refund for my speeding and parking tickets over the years?
    Pete, Montclair, New Jersey

    You know how people always assume that when somebody 'takes the Fifth' in a trial, he's pretty much guilty? It seems to me that the only real reason the Bush administration would go about crafting such a law is about the same thing... I mean, why make a law legalizing illegal things you didn't do?
    Matt, San Jose, California
    Posted By Jack Cafferty, CNN Commentator: 9/12/2006 05:49:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Situation Online: Munch, military voting, and hurricane study


    Edvard Munch's masterpiece "The Scream" has a dented corner and damp damage.

    The Scream is back!
    The Edvard Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway today released a photo of the artist's masterpieces, "The Scream" and "Madonna", which were recently recovered after being stolen at gunpoint over two years ago. How did the paintings weather the robbery? We'll give you a first look online.

    Voting by email?
    Soldiers abroad complained of problems involving absentee ballots during the hotly-contested 2000 Presidential election. Now the Pentagon's Federal Voting Assistance Program has updated its Web site to make it easier for millions of soldiers and their families overseas to vote. Partisan groups are also using the web to help Democrats and Republicans vote abroad, urging them to use the Pentagon site as well.

    Manmade hurricanes?
    A new study argues the existence of a definitive link between global warming and the growth of hurricanes (.mpg video). But skeptics wonder: Does global warming even exist in the first place?

    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: 9/12/2006 05:10:00 PM ET | Permalink
    'Girls Gone Wild' guilty
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The producers of "Girls Gone Wild" pleaded guilty Thursday to charges stemming from their failure to document the ages of female performers in their sexually oriented films, according to the Justice Department.

    Mantra Films, based in Santa Monica, California, entered a plea agreement in a federal court in Panama City, Florida. The entertainment company's founder, Joseph Francis, also agreed to plea guilty to deferred charges to be filed later in Los Angeles. He, Mantra and a related firm, MRA Holdings, together agreed to pay fines totaling $2.1 million. (Full story)

    Advertisements for "Girls Gone Wild" videotapes -- often featuring young, semi-nude women at parties and in sexual situations -- appear frequently on some cable television channels. Court documents allege violations of productions titled "Ultimate Spring Break," "Girls Gone Wild on Campus Uncensored," "Totally Exposed Uncensored and Beyond," and "Girls Gone Wild College Girls Exposed/Sexy Sorority Sweethearts."

    Mantra Films specifically pleaded guilty to charges that it failed to create and maintain age and identity documents for performers, as well as that it failed to label its videotapes and DVDs as required by federal law.

    The Justice Department said the case is the first filed under a law -- which prosecutors call Section 2257 -- designed to prevent the sexual exploitation of children.
    Posted By Terry Frieden, CNN Washington Bureau: 9/12/2006 02:54:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Dems blast Bush for asserting al Qaeda, Iraq ties


    Sen. Harry Reid said President Bush wrongly tried to "blur al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Iraq and 9/11."

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday accused President Bush of politicizing September 11, criticizing a speech made on the attacks' fifth anniversary that tied the Iraq war with the war on terrorism.

    In remarks on the Senate floor, Reid said Bush used the solemn occassion to "launch clumsily disguised barbs at those who disagree with his policies [in Iraq]." (Full story)

    The Nevada Democrat said that despite conclusive findings -- the most recent by a
    Republican-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee -- that there were no ties
    between Iraq and al Qaeda, "the president continued to deliberately lump and
    blur al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, Iraq and 9/11 together."

    "This was a political move, designed to tap the overwhelming public sentiment to destroy al Qaeda as a way to bolster sagging public support for the war in Iraq," Reid said.

    In his nationally televised speech, Bush again tried to make the case that his increasingly unpopular decision to go to war in Iraq was part of the larger war on terror, flowing from the carnage and chaos of September 11.

    GOP Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania defended the president after Reid's remarks, saying that "the very people that planned the attacks are the people who are in Iraq -- al Qaeda in Iraq -- causing that sectarian violence."

    The group now called "al Qaeda in Iraq" was actually formed after the U.S.-led invasion.
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/12/2006 12:24:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Bush: Nation in 'struggle for civilization'
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- On the fifth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks, President Bush stressed the necessity of victory, tying together conflicts from Afghanistan to Iraq to Lebanon in the greater war on terrorism.

    Referring to a "struggle between tyranny and freedom" that rivaled World War II, Bush warned Americans that a "difficult road" lies ahead that "will not be over until we or the extremists emerge victorious." (Full story)

    In his Oval Office speech, Bush called the Iraq invasion a necessary part of the war on terror because Saddam Hussein's regime posed "a risk that the world could not afford to take." The president pledged not to waver in Iraq, insisting that doing so would give terrorists psychological and tactical victories.
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/12/2006 12:16:00 PM ET | Permalink
    'Azzam the American' to face more terror charges


    In a recently released al Qaeda video, Californian Adam Gadahn, 28, invites Americans to convert to Islam.

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A U.S. citizen turned al Qaeda spokesman will face more charges in the wake of recent videotapes featuring him released by the terror organization, two sources familiar with the investigation tell CNN.

    Adam Gadahn -- who grew up in rural California, rebelled against his parents' Christianity and converted to Islam in the mid-90s and is now referred to as "Azzam the American" by al Qaeda -- has appeared in several messages speaking English. In a long recording released a week ago, for instance, he urged people worldwide to convert to Islam. (Column: Tracking Terror)

    And in a videotape posted on the Internet Friday, he hailed the September 11, 2001, hijackers, saying, "All the brothers who took part in the raids on America were dedicated, strong-willed, highly motivated individuals with a burning concern for Islam and Muslims, and they had to be chosen for such a difficult mission. They were definitely not failures looking for a way out." (Full story)

    Gadahn is already facing a sealed indictment charging him with material support to terrorism, and one source said prosecutors are debating whether to charge him with treason. A final decision has not been made on details on an updated indictment. The FBI first issued an alert on Gadahn in 2004, saying he was "being sought in connection with possible terrorist threats against the United States."

    "People have seen his face [so] it's going to be very difficult for him to become an operative," FBI Director Robert Mueller told CNN last week. "But he is a contributor. He's certainly supporting al Qaeda and [is] somebody who we would very much like to arrest and prosecute."
    Posted By Kevin Bohn and Kelli Arena, CNN America Bureau: 9/12/2006 12:09:00 PM ET | Permalink
    The Morning Grind
    (A first look at today's political news)

  • No public events for POTUS today.

  • The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs holds a hearing, "Homeland Security: The Next Five Years." DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff will be the first witness.

    The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

    The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

  • It's primary day in Washington, DC, and nine states today: AZ, DE, MD, MN, NH, NY, RI, VT, and WI. Check out local media coverage of the hottest races below!

  • Voters in AZ will have to bring ID to the polls today, after a federal court just yesterday rejected a challenge to the state's ID requirements. The LA Times reports this "little noticed" battle is being fought in "half-empty courtrooms in as many as nine states."

  • And after two years of silence following his bombshell resignation from office, former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey is preparing to tell his story on national TV. Who scored the big exclusive? Find out in Hot Topics below!
    *****

    "THE SAFETY OF AMERICA DEPENDS ON THE OUTCOME OF THE BATTLE IN THE STREETS OF BAGHDAD": President Bush mixed solemn remembrance of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks yesterday with a renewed call to complete the mission in Iraq, paying tribute to the fallen even while warning Americans that failure in the Middle East would leave the United States more vulnerable than ever to Islamic extremists. "Whatever mistakes have been made in Iraq," Bush said last night in a prime-time address from the Oval Office, "the worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out, the terrorists would leave us alone. They will not leave us alone. They will follow us. The safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad."... [The address] marked the culmination of a new White House campaign to tie what polls show is a unpopular war in Iraq to a broader campaign against Islamic radicals. Washington Post: Bush Says Iraq Victory Is Vital

    TRANSCRIPT OF PRESIDENT'S ADDRESS TO THE NATION (via WhiteHouse.gov)

    TRYING TO AVOID "TARNISHING THE MEMORY OF THE ATTACKS" ON THE HILL: With their hands clasped to their hearts, Democratic and Republican members of Congress stood shoulder to shoulder on the steps of the Capitol on Monday evening and sang "The Star-Spangled Banner," in a ceremony echoing a spontaneous moment on the evening of the 2001 attacks... Back inside the Capitol, Republicans and Democrats were squabbling over the wording of a Sept. 11 resolution in what aides to both parties acknowledged was, to no small extent, a bid to gain political advantage. And throughout the day, even as Democratic and Republican aides talked about efforts to avoid being seen as tarnishing the memory of the attacks with blatant political appeals, candidates and Congressional leaders were issuing statements reflecting political implications that Republicans and Democrats saw in the day's events. New York Times: A Solemn, Sad Moment to Reflect, but Politics Also Surfaces

    "EVER-SO-SLIGHT SOFTENING OF AMERICA'S STANCE" ON IRAN: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in an ever-so-slight softening of America's stance, on Monday left open the possibility that the United States might suspend efforts to impose sanctions against Iran if it suspended uranium enrichment for two months. "First of all, it would have to be suspension - verified suspension," Ms. Rice said. "Secondly, it's suspension for suspension. We've said that if they suspend," the United States would in turn halt its pursuit of United Nations sanctions against Iran and would join European talks with Tehran over its nuclear program. Reuters reported Sunday that Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, had said that Iran would be willing to consider a two-month moratorium on its uranium-enrichment program. New York Times: Rice Indicates Slight Shift in Stance on Iran Sanctions

    HUNTER ALIGNS HIMSELF WITH WH, SETTING UP BATTLE WITH SENATE: A House Republican has drafted a bill largely mimicking an administration plan to create military commissions to prosecute terror suspects. Rep. Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, will propose on Wednesday that his panel approve a bill that would allow the exclusion of evidence to protect classified information. A floor vote is expected next week. The bill puts Hunter, R-Calif., in line with the White House and Senate leadership, but at odds with his counterpart, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, R-Va. Warner and some of his colleagues have drafted a rival bill that would ensure defendants are allowed access to all evidence against them. AP via Yahoo! News: Republican pushes hardline tribunal bill

    HOUSE CMTE TO INVESTIGATE HP SPY SCANDAL: The scandal surrounding Hewlett-Packard Co. escalated Monday when members of Congress and federal law enforcement officials announced they would launch inquiries into the tech giant's practices during a controversial probe of media leaks that began last year. The new investigations, which join probes by the California attorney general and the Securities and Exchange Commission, came to light as the company's board met for a second straight day to discuss the fate of embattled HP Chairwoman Patricia Dunn... The House Committee on Energy and Commerce sent the company a long list of requests, asking HP to reveal the name of the outside agency the company hired to conduct the investigation. In a letter to Dunn, the committee also asked for the names of individuals who were targets of the internal probe and the names of individuals, including HP employees, who took part in the probe. San Francisco Chronicle: FBI, congressional panel open their own HP probes

    MANY EYES ON RHODE ISLAND TODAY: Notoriously independent-minded Rhode Island Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee confronts stiff opposition Tuesday in his bid for a second term, the latest race with a moderate targeted by his own party's hard-line critics. While a total of nine states and Washington, D.C., were holding primary elections, Chafee's race is drawing the most attention as another test of the depth of anti-incumbent sentiment and the erosion of the political middle ground. Chafee has drawn a remarkable amount of support from national Republicans, especially for a senator who has often been at odds with the party, bucking the administration on tax cuts, civil liberties and the Iraq war. He faces Steve Laffey, a former investment banker and mayor of Cranston, R.I. AP via Yahoo! News: Nine states to hold primaries

    DID YOU KNOW HILLARY HAD A PRIMARY CHALLENGER? (SHE LEADS 85-9): Gubernatorial hopeful Eliot Spitzer and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are on their way to blowout victories today, while Andrew Cuomo seems certain to defeat Mark Green in the Democratic race for attorney general, according to yesterday's final primary poll. The Quinnipiac University survey of likely Democratic voters found the gubernatorial contest between Attorney General Spitzer and Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi nearly as lopsided as Clinton's race against little-known anti-Iraq war opponent Jonathan Tasini. Suozzi, who has trailed Spitzer by 50 or more points in several polls all year, was being swamped, 79 percent to 12 percent, with no significant support in any region of the state, the just-completed poll showed. New York Post: ELIOT AND HILL RIDING PRIMARY TIDAL WAVE

    ON EVE OF AZ PRIMARY, JUDGE REJECTS CHALLENGE TO ID LAW: Weeks of newspaper ads, 30-second radio spots and TV commercials featuring actors screaming "ID" all come down to today. Thousands of Arizonans are expected to cast ballots in today's primary election. And this year, more is riding on the race than the outcome of a handful of political offices and initiatives. Today's election represents the first statewide test of a 2-year-old law requiring voters to show identification when they vote... On Monday, a federal court rejected a challenge to the identification requirements of Proposition 200, a measure voters overwhelmingly approved in 2004. Proposition 200 supporters have long argued the measure guards against vote fraud, though critics believe it is divisive and could do harm to minority voters, particularly those in impoverished areas. Arizona Republic: Today is big test for vote ID law

    ID LAWS A HOT ISSUE IN "HALF-EMPTY COURTROOMS" IN "AS MANY AS 9 STATES": Little noticed by voters, a nationwide melee has broken out pitting liberal and conservative groups in a duel over new laws that could determine who wins close elections in November and beyond. The dispute, which is being fought in disparate and often half-empty courtrooms in as many as nine states, concerns new state laws and rules backed primarily by Republicans that require people to show photo identification in order to vote and, in some cases, proof of citizenship and identification when registering to vote... The legal battle reflects a deep partisan divide, with Republicans arguing that the new requirements are needed to prevent voting fraud and boost confidence in election results, and Democrats charging that they disenfranchise seniors, minorities, students and others who tend to vote Democratic. Los Angeles Times: Parties Battle Over New Voter ID Laws

    MD SENATE RACE IS HOT, BUT WILL LOOSE LIPS CAUSE COMPTROLLER HIS JOB? For the first time in more than a decade, today's primary election promises plenty of drama. Two major figures in the Democratic Party - Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin and former Rep. Kweisi Mfume - are battling each other and a host of other challengers to take on Republican Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in what could be a nationally watched race to replace five-term U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes. And in what could be the biggest Election Day story of all, another powerful Democrat, Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, embroiled in controversy over his unvarnished remarks, is putting a 50-year winning streak on the line against the two most credible opponents he's faced in years - Del. Peter Franchot of Montgomery County and Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens. Baltimore Sun: Key races lift profile of primary

    "THIS IS A WATERSHED ELECTION FOR D.C.": By the time the precincts close at 8 p.m., Democratic voters in the District will have picked their choices for a new mayor, a new D.C. Council chairman and for three open council seats. That, combined with a highly contested race for an at-large spot, could radically change the composition of the city's leadership. "This is a watershed election for D.C.," Democratic pollster Ron Lester said. Ronald Walters, a political scientist at the University of Maryland, said turnout could exceed 45 percent in the heavily Democratic city, where primaries are often the equivalent of a general election. Washington Post: Busy Day At Polls Likely in Md., D.C.

    DE WISES UP TO THIS VOTING-ON-A-TUESDAY FAD: "Today is a Tuesday and for the first time in nearly 35 years it's also primary election day in Delaware. We've long advocated moving the misguided Saturday primary date to Tuesday and the Legislature finally saw the light. Today we join a dozen or so other states for Tuesday voting. Saturday never worked. It insulted Jewish voters on their Sabbath. It often interferred with final beach weekends or vacations or football games. Whether Tuesday voting will encourage greater turnout remains to be seen, of course." The News Journal: State's new primary election day is correct

    JEFFERSON FACES 12 CHALLENGERS IN NOLA: A bribery scandal has Congressman William Jefferson fighting for his political life following eight House terms in which he faced little opposition at election time. A dozen candidates are challenging Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat who FBI agents say was found with $90,000 in bribe money in his freezer. Jefferson denies any impropriety. The Nov. 7 election is the first time Jefferson has been threatened with defeat since elected to the House in 1990... Louisiana has an open primary system, meaning all 13 candidates regardless of party will appear on the ballot. If no one gets more than 50% of the vote, the two top vote-getters face off in a December runoff. Jefferson faces eight Democrats - including two state representatives and a former city councilman - three Republicans and one Libertarian. USA Today: La.'s Jefferson fights to stay in office

    "CULTURE OF CORRUPTION" BATTLE CRY NOT WORKING AGAINST DOOLITTLE: Representative John Doolittle, with links to two separate Capitol Hill scandals, might be the poster child for Democratic claims that congressional Republicans have created a "culture of corruption" in Washington. It doesn't seem to be working out that way. Less than two months before the midterm congressional elections, Doolittle is the favorite to retain his seat, thanks to his delivery of federal largesse to his northeastern California district, and to its Republican registration edge. Doolittle's success so far -- the non-partisan Cook Political Report in Washington rates him a likely winner -- shows the difficulties facing Democrats as they seek to make Republican ethics a campaign issue. While corruption charges are contributing to a general anti-incumbent sentiment nationwide... Democrats are having trouble wielding it effectively against entrenched incumbents such as Doolittle. Bloomberg: Doolittle Deflects Democrats' Congressional Corruption Charges

    BLAGOJEVICH LEADS IN A "POTENTIALLY PASSIONLESS" IL GOV RACE: Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich holds a 12 percentage point advantage over Republican challenger Judy Baar Topinka in a contest that finds voters disillusioned over whether either candidate would clean up state government, a new Tribune/WGN-TV poll shows. Reflecting voter sentiment in the days following former Gov. George Ryan's sentencing on federal corruption charges, the poll suggests that a dispirited electorate believes Blagojevich has not lived up to his promises to combat corruption and doubts that Topinka would do better. With less than two months before the Nov. 7 election, the first Tribune poll of the general election season portends a potentially passionless, low-turnout election for governor, putting a premium on get-out-the-vote techniques after weeks of negative TV advertising. Chicago Tribune: Governor's lead solid, but voters seem wary

    MO'S McCASKILL "UNDER FIRE" FOR BUSH ATTACK: The U.S. Senate campaign of Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill has been under sharp criticism since she accused President Bush of letting poor blacks in Louisiana die during Hurricane Katrina. Mrs. McCaskill, the state auditor, is attempting to link Republican Sen. Jim Talent with the president as she tries to unseat the incumbent. "George Bush let people die on rooftops in New Orleans because they were poor and because they were black," she told a group of Democratic state legislators last week. The comments, made as she outlined Mr. Talent's efforts to attract minority voters, were first reported by Pub Def Weekly, a St. Louis-based blog. Washington Times: Under fire, Democrat retreats

    McGREEVEY TO TELL HIS STORY ON "OPRAH": Former New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey, who has remained publicly silent since resigning from office two years ago after announcing he was gay, is set to tell his story on "The Oprah Winfrey Show." Winfrey landed the exclusive interview with 49-year-old McGreevey because of her sense of faith and spirituality, according to friends of the former governor. McGreevey is said to be a fan of Winfrey's education and anti-poverty work, two issues to which the former governor is devoting more time in his post-political life. About a dozen friends accompanied McGreevey and his partner, Australian financial adviser Mark O'Donnell, 42, to Chicago for the taping scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. AP via Yahoo! News: Former N.J. governor to go on Oprah show
  • Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 9/12/2006 08:53:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Monday, September 11, 2006
    The Cafferty File: Safer since 9-11?
    On "The Situation Room" today, we asked viewers the following questions, and here are some of our favorite responses that we didn't get to read on air:

    Vice President Cheney says the Bush administration has done "a helluva job" with homeland security. Do you agree?

    I am just a moderate Republican from Colorado, but I give a whole-hearted 'yes' to your question. I feel safer boarding a plane and thank President Bush personally. He did not wait for a hundred opinion polls. He just exercised leadership and courage. Having to take my shoes off is not the end of the Fourth Amendment to me.
    Daniel, Louisville, Colorado

    Homeland Security is a cruel, expensive joke on the American public. Our borders and ports are still wide open and vulnerable to attack by even the most inept terrorist.
    Andy, Sun Valley, Nevada

    Cheney says because we haven't been hit in the past 5 years, the administration must be doing something right. Well, we didn't get hit in the 8 previous years either. Must mean Clinton was doing something right, no? 9/11 happened on Bush's watch. End of story.
    Cindy, Kennesaw, Georgia

    Now let me get this straight. Brownie did a heck of a job, and now our homeland security department is doing a hell of a job. When will these guys quit bragging about what a great job they've done, and just do the job?
    Mark, New York

    How has the U.S. changed in the last five years?

    We've discovered how incompetent our federal bureaucracy really is. That could be more devastating in the long term than Osama bin Laden.
    Deborah, Massachusetts

    America is not as well-respected as it once was in the world. The arrogance of Bush & Company has left a mess our children and grandchildren will have to pay for.
    Ed, Kasson, Minnesota

    In the last five years since 9/11/01 the country itself has changed little, but the people in it are completely different. Fears of foreign people and of terrorism seem to sway our judgments and decisions in amazing ways. We are afraid to fly, afraid to go to visit nations, many former allies are no longer behind us, and we are even afraid that a few hundred child-like adults with guns and bombs can destroy a nation of millions. Our best weapon is defiance and not to be afraid, for that is what they want.
    Patrick, Woodstock, Georgia


    Why do almost half of Americans think Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11?

    Why? Attribute it to 55 years of voting down school budgets coming home to roost. That's why.
    Thomas

    Simple. Bush, Cheney, and the rest of the administration did their best to mislead the country into believing that there was a link.
    Todd, Palos Verdes, California

    I wonder what percentage of your polled Americans can identify Iraq on a map and name the current president? This should give you some idea about the credibility or validity of their responses.
    Brian, Elkton, Maryland

    The reason so many Americans think that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11 is because of the lap-dog press, which has utterly failed to do its job as the watchdog of the government.
    Dean, Santa Monica, California
    Posted By Jack Cafferty, CNN Commentator: 9/11/2006 05:48:00 PM ET | Permalink
    The Situation Online: Remembering 9/11


    A man holds a photo of a policeman killed on 9/11 during memorial ceremonies Monday in New York.

    Remembering 9/11 online
    Some of the most telling accounts of 9/11 are located online. The comprehensive September 11 Digital Archive is home to an online collection of tens of thousands of 9/11 photos, videos, audio recordings, emails, and blog entries. The 2996 project is an initiative involving more than 3,000 bloggers working together to honor and remember each person killed in the attacks [CNN reports that 2,973 people died in the 9/11 attacks]. Wherewereyou.org is an online effort aimed at collecting personal stories of 9/11. The U.S. government has made available online the complete 9/11 Commission Report, the Library of Congress 9/11 Web Archive, Smithsonian's 9/11 collection, as well as a database of exhibits from the Zacarias Moussaoui trial. Click here for CNN's coverage of 9/11: five years later.

    New al Qaeda tape
    Al Qaeda's number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, appears in a sophisticated new video (RealMedia video) coinciding with the fifth anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Osama bin Laden's deputy, warns Americans that "new events" are on the way, and also says that Western troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are "doomed".

    Ground Zero reconstruction
    Downtown Manhattan was devastated five years ago today. Tower 7 of the World Trade Center--a 52-story, 700-million dollar building--was the first building to re-open last May. Now, final plans have been unveiled for the three skyscrapers that will stand next to the centerpiece Freedom Tower, which is already under construction. Images of Towers 2, 3, and 4 are now online, redefining the skyline of lower Manhattan.
    Posted By The Situation Online Producers: 9/11/2006 03:56:00 PM ET | Permalink
    9/11 commission chiefs: Lack of urgency, needed reforms
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The heads of the independent commission that investigated the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks chastised officials for not doing enough to prevent future tragedies while warning against complacency.

    "Our first responders still don't have the help they need," said former New Jersey Gov. Thomas Kean, co-chairman with former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton. "They still can't talk to each other in the way they should. That cost lives on 9/11. It cost even more lives with [Hurricane] Katrina."

    The bipartisan, 10-member panel issued 41 recommendations, including improving coordination between intelligence and law enforcement agencies, overhauling congressional oversight and consolidating leadership of the intelligence agencies in one office.

    Some measures -- such as the new "director of intelligence" position -- have been acted upon, yet others have not. A December "report card" gave the government mixed grades overall and Ds and Fs for airline screening, funding and sharing information.

    "Our frustration is that so many of these recommendations we've made are really no-brainers," Hamilton told reporters at the National Press Club. "We just can't figure out, frankly, why they haven't been quickly adopted. And what we see, I think, is a kind of lack of urgency across the board."

    Kean warned of future terrorism, pointing to the resiliency of the September 11 attackers.

    "These people are wily," he said. "The 9/11 attacks were planned over five or six years ... We can't let our guard down."
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/11/2006 03:38:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Hayden: CIA well-adapted to 'new type of war'
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- While acknowledging the intelligence community's inability to prevent the September 11, 2001, attacks, CIA Director Michael Hayden praised fellow agency members for their achievements in the five years since.

    "We know the enemy and understand his methods with far greater depth and precision," Hayden said in a videotaped message to CIA employees.

    Saying the enemy now spends most of its time "looking over its shoulder," the four-star Air Force general lauded the agency for adapting quickly to "a new type of war" and vowed to continue the "high tempo" to protect the nation.
    Posted By Pam Benson, CNN America Bureau: 9/11/2006 01:55:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Rice honors foreign nationals killed on 9/11
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- International posturing took a back seat to reflection Monday, as the State Department honored citizens from 92 countried killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice led the "International Remembrance" ceremony, standing before a row of flags representing each country to lose one of its own.

    Thanking people and governments worldwide for their condolences and support, she called the events "an attack on the universal ideals of peace and liberty and human rights that civilized nations like our embody and strive to uphold."

    More recent terrorist attacks in places like Spain, England, Egypt, Indonesia, Turkey, Russia and Iraq "reinforce the clear lessons of September 11th," she added.

    "The fight against terrorism is global, and in order to prevail together we must unite together, and we must fight together," Rice said.

    Two women who lost relatives in the attacks -- Chinese national Rui Zheng, whose parents were flying home to China through Los Angeles on American Flight 77, and Floura Chowhury, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Bangladesh who lost two cousins in the World Trade Center's collapse -- read the country names.
    Posted By Elise Labott, CNN State Department Unit: 9/11/2006 01:39:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Poll: More Americans blame Bush for 9/11
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Almost half of Americans blame the Bush administration for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- up from almost a third in the past four years -- according to a CNN poll released Monday. (Full story)

    In the poll, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for CNN, 45 percent said either a "great deal" or a "moderate amount," up from 32 percent in a June 2002 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

    But the Clinton administration did not get off lightly. Some 41 percent of the 1,004 respondents blamed his administration a "great deal" or a "moderate amount" for the attacks.
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/11/2006 01:13:00 PM ET | Permalink
    Cheney on Iraq: 'We would do exactly the same thing'


    Vice President Dick Cheney did not admit the U.S. had made mistakes in Iraq, drawing Democrats' ire.

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney strongly, defiantly backed the Bush administration's Iraq policy Sunday, saying the White House would have done "exactly the same thing" had it known in early 2003 what it knows now.

    The comments -- made in a rare, hour-long appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" -- elicited criticism from Democrats, with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid saying the vice president "just doesn't get it."

    Cheney said the U.S. invasion has resulted in "major progress" in Iraq, where local forces have taken over security in some places and the government is democratically elected. Violence continues in other areas, meanwhile, and 2,668 U.S. troops have been killed since the war began.

    The vice president blamed the CIA for what proved to be faulty intelligence on Iraq's suspected stockpile of weapons of mass destruction and acknowledged former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has not been linked to al Qaeda attacks. Nonetheless, he held firm that the 2003 invasion was the right move, saying that without the offensive, Hussein would be "sitting on top of a big pile of cash because we'd have $65 and $70 (per barrel of) oil ... He would be a major state sponsor of terror."

    Democrats quickly pounced on the comments. Sen. Edward Kennedy said Cheney's "stunning refusal to recognize mistakes has squandered American power and made us less safe," while fellow Massachusetts politician Sen. John Kerry said "every mistake possible has been made."

    Cheney insisted the Bush administration had done "a helluva job" with homeland security, citing the absence of further terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001.

    Reid criticized Cheney and his remarks Sunday, accusing him of making the country less safe.

    "The vice president was a chief architect of the effort to manipulate intelligence to build a case for invading Iraq, he ignored the threat of insurgencies, he took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan, and today he made clear he would do nothing different," the Nevada Democrat said.
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/11/2006 11:46:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Report: Gun violence up in U.S.
    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Gun violence in the United States increased last year, but overall crime remained unchanged, a Justice Department report said Sunday.

    Between 2004 and 2005, the rate of firearm violence increased from 1.4 percent to 2.0 victimizations per every 1,000 Americans -- which principal author Shannan Catalano called "probably the most important statistic in this study." (Full story)

    The figure reflects a sharp increase in gun crime from that detailed in the FBI's 2005 preliminary report, issued in June. That survey, based on crimes reported by local and state police agencies, marked the first time in 13 years that a government report showed an increase in violent crime.

    The more recent report, the National Crime Victimization Survey, shows 5.2 million violent crimes occurred in 2005. In 24 percent of rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults, the criminals were armed.

    "The report shows that violent and property crime rates in 2005 remained at their lowest levels since the survey was initiated in 1973," said Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty.

    McNulty said Justice Department officials are concerned about the rise in firearm-related crimes, but cannot yet know whether the one-year figures portend a trend.
    Posted By Terry Frieden, CNN Washington Bureau: 9/11/2006 11:19:00 AM ET | Permalink
    Kerry to decide on presidential run after election


    Sen. John Kerry lost with 48 percent of the vote to George W. Bush's 51 percent in the 2004 election.

    WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. John Kerry -- the Democrats' 2004 presidential nominee -- said Sunday he hadn't decided on whether he'd made another White House run, adding he'd likely make a decision after the November elections.

    "I think, if you've run before and come as close as I did and you obviously ran for a reason in the first place, those reasons don't go away automatically," the 62-year-old Massachusetts Democrat said. "But I have to take a look at whether or not the support will be there and what I feel about it, what my family feels about it."

    Kerry trailed Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore by sizable margins in a recent CNN poll of self-identified Democrats, getting 11 percent versus the former first lady's 37 percent support. None of these politicians officially have said they will run for the presidency. (Full story)

    Having traveled this weekend to New Hampshire -- long a hotbed for presidential contenders -- Kerry nonetheless insisted his immediate focus was helping fellow Democrats win back control of the House and the Senate from Republicans.

    "There isn't one issue where [the Bush] administration, frankly, has simply either failed to do the job or avoided doing the job," Kerry told CNN's "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer." "You can look to border security and immigration as the latest example."
    Posted By CNN's Washington Bureau: 9/11/2006 11:02:00 AM ET | Permalink
    The Morning Grind
    (A first look at today's political news)

  • President Bush begins his day in New York City where he is marking the fifth anniversary of 9/11 with first responders at the Fort Pitt Firehouse. At noon ET, the President will lay a wreath on Skyline Road in Shanksville, PA. At 3:35 pm ET, the President will lay a wreath at the Pentagon, and at 9:01:30 pm ET, the President will address the nation from the White House.

  • On the Hill today, lawmakers will participate in a "bipartisan, bicameral 9/11 commemoration" on the East Front Steps of the U.S. Capitol at 6:00 pm ET.

    The Senate Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

    The House Radio-Television Correspondents' Gallery Daybook

  • A new CNN poll, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation, finds 45 percent of respondents blame the Bush administration a "great deal" or a "moderate amount" for the September 11, 2001, attacks, up from 32 percent in a June 2002 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

  • ABC aired the first part of its controversial "Path to 9/11" docudrama, but "scrubbed some of the most provocative material," reports the New York Post.

  • "I think there's no question, Tim, that the insurgency has gone on longer and been more difficult than I had anticipated," Vice President Cheney said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday. "I'll be the first to admit that." The Vice President continued to say that history will view 2005 as a "turning point," when Iraqis "wrote a constitution, held three national elections and basically took on the responsibility for their own fate and their future."

  • And how much did the "Macaca" debacle hurt Virginia Senator George Allen in the polls? Find out in Hot Topics below!

    *****

    PRESIDENT MARKS 5TH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11: Vowing that he was "never going to forget the lessons of that day," President Bush paid tribute last night to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, laying wreaths at ground zero, attending a prayer service at St. Paul's Chapel and making a surprise stop at a firehouse and a memorial museum overlooking the vast gash in the ground where the twin towers once stood. The official commemoration of the fifth anniversary of the attacks, one of many memorial gatherings around New York and the United States yesterday, began without a word. The strains of bagpipes were all that could be heard as the president and Mrs. Bush, joined by Gov. George E. Pataki, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, descended into the pit at ground zero under a steel-gray sky. New York Times: Bush Mourns 9/11 at Ground Zero as New York Remembers

    "IT'S CLEAR THAT WE ARE SAFE - SAFER - BUT NOT REALLY YET SAFE," SAYS RICE: The United States is safer now than it was before the Sept. 11 attacks, but must not relent in fighting terrorism in Iraq and elsewhere, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday. "I think it's clear that we are safe - safer - but not really yet safe," said Rice, who was President Bush's national security adviser when al-Qaida masterminded the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Yet Democratic leaders said the Bush administration has gotten the U.S. bogged down in Iraq when there was no evidence of links to the Sept. 11 attacks, detracting from efforts against al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. AP via Yahoo! News: Rice: Do not relent in fighting Iraq war

    CNN POLL: 45% BLAME BUSH ADMIN FOR ATTACKS: The percentage of Americans who blame the Bush administration for the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington has risen from almost a third to almost half over the past four years, a CNN poll released Monday found. Asked whether they blame the Bush administration for the attacks, 45 percent said either a "great deal" or a "moderate amount," up from 32 percent in a June 2002 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll. But the Clinton administration did not get off lightly either. The latest poll, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation for CNN, found that 41 percent of respondents blamed his administration a "great deal" or a "moderate amount" for the attacks. That's only slightly less than the 45 percent who blamed his administration in a poll carried out less than a week after the attacks. CNN: Poll: More Americans blame Bush for 9/11

    "THE INSURGENCY'S GONE ON LONGER AND BEEN MORE DIFFICULT [THAN] I HAD ANTICIPATED," SAYS CHENEY ON "MEET": Vice President Cheney offered a veiled attack yesterday on critics of the administration's Iraq policy, saying the domestic debate over the war is emboldening adversaries who believe they can undermine the resolve of the American people. "They can't beat us in a stand-up fight -- they never have -- but they're absolutely convinced they can break our will, [that] the American people don't have the stomach for the fight," Cheney said on NBC's "Meet the Press."... The vice president acknowledged he had been overly optimistic in predicting a quick demise to the Iraqi insurgency that continues to bedevil U.S. forces. More than a year ago, in May 2005, Cheney proclaimed the insurgency was in its "last throes." Since then, more than 1,000 U.S. troops have died and sectarian violence has intensified. Washington Post: War's Critics Abetting Terrorists, Cheney Says

    FULL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT (via WhiteHouse.gov)

    ABC EDITS OUT MOST CONTROVERSIAL MATERIAL FROM "PATH TO 9/11": ABC scrubbed some of the most provocative material out of its "Path to 9/11" miniseries, which began last night, yielding to pressure from former President Bill Clinton. The network defied his demand that it pull the two-part series, but it re-edited material the former president said reinvented history to blame his administration for failing to nab Osama Bin Laden in the 1990s. Conspicuously absent from earlier edits of the film was real-life video of Clinton's court deposition in the Monica Lewinsky scandal. But the movie still included Clinton's famous finger-wagging statement that he "did not have sexual relations" with her. New York Post: ABC 'PATH' OF LEAST RESISTANCE

    MOST CANDIDATES TAKE DAY OFF FROM CAMPAIGNING IN NEW YORK: With primary elections tomorrow, candidates for statewide offices were touting last-minute endorsements yesterday and courting voters everywhere from religious services to gay bars. Gubernatorial hopeful Eliot Spitzer and attorney general candidate Andrew Cuomo, both Democratic front-runners, secured the backing of the governor of Puerto Rico yesterday... Yesterday marked the last official day of preprimary campaigning because all area political candidates vowed not to actively woo voters today, the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Most said they were suspending their TV commercials, except for [Mark] Green. New York Daily News: Full speed ahead for pol hopefuls

    CHAFEE FACES "STRONGEST RENOMINATION CHALLENGE OF ANY INCUMBENT" RI SEN SINCE 1940s: In their final campaign weekend before Tuesday's Republican U.S. Senate primary race, Sen. Lincoln Chafee and Cranston Mayor Stephen Laffey performed the political grunt work of getting out the vote. The candidates hit the road -- Chafee in his hybrid Toyota Prius and Laffey in his RV -- to wave to motorists, knock on doors, work the festival crowds and urge Rhode Islanders to go to the polls on Tuesday. The race has captured the attention of the national media, which yesterday descended on the Chafee-Laffey campaigns to watch what pollsters predict will be a close contest. For Chafee, this race has been described as the strongest renomination challenge of any incumbent Rhode Island senator since the state's modern primary system began, in 1948. Providence Journal-Bulletin: On campaign trail, Chafee, Laffey pulling out all the stops

    IN DC RACE, TOMORROW'S DEM PRIMARY WILL LIKELY DETERMINE NEXT MAYOR: Over 17 months, Fenty's team has crisscrossed the city, knocking on doors, taking names and assembling a database of 45,000 supporters -- enough to win the election in an average year. Now, in the biggest and most highly synchronized vote drive in city history, Fenty is ready to deploy a phalanx of callers, a fleet of mobile command units and more than 1,000 professional and volunteer campaign workers to drag those people to the polls. Fenty's chief rival in the Democratic primary, Linda W. Cropp, is mobilizing her own battalion of poll workers, and she says she will have hundreds of volunteers on the streets and on the phones. But Cropp aides acknowledge that they cannot match the sheer number of Fenty foot soldiers. Washington Post: Campaigns Are Primed To Storm D.C., Md.

    CARTER'S SON SIDELINED WITH "SEVERE COLITIS": Democratic senatorial candidate Jack Carter was being treated for severe colitis in the intensive care unit of Summerlin Hospital Medical Center this weekend, his campaign press secretary said Sunday. Carter, 59, has been hospitalized since Thursday, and his condition has stabilized, but he isn't expected to be discharged for a few more days because doctors are still monitoring his progress, Jimmy Carter said after standing in for his son at Freedom Park on Sunday afternoon. "My wife and I were concerned about it yesterday, but he's making good progress, and all the doctors are giving us positive responses," the 81-year-old former president said. Las Vegas Review-Journal: Colitis strikes Senate hopeful

    WEBB CUTS ALLEN'S LEAD TO JUST 4 PTS IN VA: The controversy surrounding U.S. Sen. George Allen's campaign trail remarks in August has helped turn his re-election race into a close contest, according to a poll conducted for The Roanoke Times and other Virginia newspapers. Allen, the Republican incumbent, leads Democrat James Webb by just 4 percentage points -- 46 to 42 -- in a survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research. Allen's lead has diminished by 12 points since a Mason-Dixon poll conducted in July, even though Webb was barely seen on the campaign trail for much of the summer. The erosion of Allen's lead is largely because of negative publicity the senator received for remarks he made to a Webb campaign volunteer during an Aug. 11 rally in far Southwest Virginia. Roanoke Times: Senate race a close one, poll suggests

    WITH LITTLE HELP FROM DCCC, DEMS LESS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT NEW YORK PICKUPS: [J]ust a few months ago, Democrats envisioned significant gains in New York, perhaps picking up as many as four seats, possibly even five. But that goal now seems increasingly remote, and there is an emerging consensus among political analysts that the party's best chance for capturing a Republican seat is the battle to succeed Representative Sherwood L. Boehlert, one of the most liberal Republicans in Congress, who is retiring. At the same time, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee plans to spend roughly $50 million on advertisements for races around the country, according to Republican estimates. But none of that money has been set aside for New York races, except for Mr. Boehlert's seat in the 24th District in the Utica area, according to Democrats involved in the races. New York Times: For Democrats' Hopes, Less Promise in New York

    MN'S ELLISON WOULD BE FIRST MUSLIM ELECTED TO CONGRESS: Keith Ellison is a Democrat running for an open House seat in a heavily Democratic district. But what once looked like a cakewalk has turned into a bruising campaign in which many facts are disputed but a central one is not: If he wins, he will be the first Muslim elected to Congress. Before he can make history, Ellison must capture Tuesday's hotly contested Democratic primary in Minnesota's 5th Congressional District, which consists of the Minneapolis side of the Twin Cities and an inner ring of suburbs. Whoever gets the Democratic nomination is expected to sweep to victory in November to succeed Rep. Martin O. Sabo (D), who is retiring after 28 years in the House. Washington Post: Muslim Candidate Plays Defense

    CAN SANTORUM'S "POLISHED" STYLE SAVE HIM IN PA SENATE RACE? For an hour last week, television sets coast to coast showed a microcosm of the Pennsylvania U.S. Senate campaign, the nation's hottest, during a debate on the NBC program Meet the Press. Democrat Bob Casey Jr., in the voice of a father reading bedtime stories, uttered generalities and resisted attempts by host Tim Russert to force more details. Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, by contrast, whipped off base-pleasing sound bites and damn the consequences. The debate offered the sharpest lens yet on the candidates' contrasting styles: Santorum, the national figure, polished and fiery, versus the mild-mannered state row officer who has used a speaking coach to punch up his performance. Philadelphia Inquirer: Contrasting styles for Senate

    ARNOLD'S COMPUTER HACKED? HOW DID LAT GET THAT TAPE? California Highway Patrol officials have opened a criminal investigation into "multiple" breaches and illegal downloads by outside hackers into the computers of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's office, after an embarrassing private taped conversation was leaked last week to the Los Angeles Times, administration officials told The Chronicle. "There is an investigation conducted by the California Highway Patrol on how the tape obtained by the L.A. Times was acquired," said a senior official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "This is a criminal matter that has been turned over to the CHP." San Francisco Chronicle: Hacking of governor's computer suspected
  • Posted By Stephen Bach, CNN Washington Bureau: 9/11/2006 09:03:00 AM ET | Permalink
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