— President Bush defended the Administration's use of secret CIA prisons to detain suspected terrorists to NBC's Matt Lauer in their interview which aired on TODAY this morning and said, "We're using techniques within the law." Embattled Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that the "14 high-level terrorists" who have been transferred to Guantanamo "will be treated humanely -- though their victims were not -- and, if and when the necessary legislation is passed by the Congress, prosecuted for their crimes, in accordance with law."
Senate GOP leaders Bill Frist and Mitch McConnell, along with Judiciary Committee chair Arlen Specter, traveled to Guantanamo Bay yesterday. The AP reports that Frist "expects bipartisan support for putting top captured al-Qaeda figures on trial before military commissions and for guidelines on how they should be treated," per Bush's request.
The Wall Street Journal says GOP hopes of drawing "Democrats into a battle over [Bush's] terrorism-surveillance program" may get "stymied by members of their own party who are raising concerns about the program... There are similar splits as Congress prepares to debate the Bush plan to prosecute suspected terrorists using military commissions... Democrats, facing their own difficult political calculations on the issue, and possibly internal divisions as well, are taking care to avoid sounding too strident."
Progress for America, the GOP interest group formed to build support for Bush judicial nominees and initiatives, is back in the fray with an ad buy on national cable and on broadcast TV in Missouri, home to what analysts regard as the real bellwether Senate race of the cycle. The ad echoes GOP themes: their "cut and run" charge against Democrats, the fact that the United States has not seen a terrorist strike in five years, and criticism of those who oppose the NSA warrantless wiretapping program.
USA Today says Laura Bush's schedule for New York next week while her husband addresses the United Nations reflects her "own second-term agenda - one that gets her out more to champion favorite causes and that some analysts say also helps burnish her husband's image and that of the United States around the world."
Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Democrat who could become the first Muslim-American elected to Congress, has been trying to "focus on the war and the economy," but "questions about his faith and character have kept him on the defensive," including "concern" about his "past associations with the Nation of Islam and its leader, Louis Farrakhan." -- Washington Post