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Security politics

USA Today previews tomorrow's dueling speeches by President Bush and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.  "Their speeches may be the closest the two come to a debate," after Ahmadinejad challenged Bush to one a few weeks ago.  Bush's speech will be his sixth before the General Assembly. 

Bloomberg says Bush "comes to the United Nations... with limited diplomatic leverage to block the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, largely because of fallout from the Iraq war."  Tomorrow, he "will touch broadly on the nuclear disputes involving Iran and North Korea...  [He] also plans to raise the issues in private talks...  In the speech, the president also will seek tougher measures to halt massacres in Sudan and abuses in military-run Myanmar." 

The Washington Times notes that Bush, "who once said the United Nations was teetering on the brink of irrelevancy and demanded it show some backbone, has increasingly turned to the organization for international problem-solving...  Critics say Mr. Bush has been forced to become more multilateral after bucking the world body by invading Iraq, but administration officials assert that the United Nations remains a useful tool to spur foreign leaders to step in on major issues." 

The Boston Globe says Republicans are encouraged by recent polls, even though "[w]idespread concern over the war in Iraq continues to harm Republicans' prospects, and some of the same polls that showed an uptick for Bush also showed voters favoring a Democratic-controlled Congress by substantial margins.  In addition, Republicans' plans to emphasize their unity on security issues in the final weeks of the congressional session were sidetracked last week by" the internal GOP debate over detainee policy. 

White House National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, "making the rounds of Sunday talk shows, said the administration believes it can clarify interrogation rules without amending the Geneva Conventions," observes USA Today

But the AP notes that "the president's national security aides and holdout Republican senators aren't saying how they can reconcile deep differences over limits on CIA interrogations of suspected terrorists...  As a result, it is unclear if Congress quickly can pass legislation authorizing aggressive methods against terrorist detainees, as President Bush wants."

The New York Daily News: "The White House is fishing for a compromise to end an embarrassing standoff." 

"Senate Republicans concede that very public spats over their own bills aimed at preventing terrorism and prosecuting enemy combatants have hampered their election-year strategy to emphasize national security issues, but Senators and party operatives say the GOP can still salvage the message before voters go to the polls," per Roll Call.

When McCain visited New Hampshire over the weekend, the New York Times says, he was greeted by an editorial from the conservative Manchester Union-Leader challenging him on his position on detainees. 

The controversial film that depicts President Bush's assassination will hit US theatres before the end of the year -- and possibly before election day.  "The movie imagines a point in the Bush administration's not-too-distant future in which civil rights are further eroded and mistrust of Middle Eastern enemies runs high. [The filmmaker] has said he made the film not as a political statement but to illustrate how the United States has changed since 9/11." - USA Today