Discuss as:

Security politics II: Iraq, detainees, etc.

Sen. John McCain (R) yesterday "named three measures that he said would no longer be allowed" under the deal struck on detainee legislation: "extreme sleep deprivation, forced hypothermia and 'waterboarding,' which simulates drowning.  He also said other 'extreme measures' would be banned...  McCain spoke after officials of Human Rights Watch and others pressed him to spell out ways in which the controversial draft legislation would constrain the CIA's actions." 

Bob Novak wonders why the deal took so long, and puts most of the blame with the White House.  "Such Republican disarray seven weeks before difficult midterm elections raises doubts of how much the Bush team has learned over six years.  The terrorist tribunal dispute saw Bush take a no-compromise line, appearing to lose his temper publicly.  With support in his own party disintegrating, the president had to compromise last week and seemed in retreat." 

Senate Judiciary Committee chair Arlen Specter gives a luncheon speech today at the National Press Club.

Noting that "Bush has served as a wartime president longer than any occupant of the White House since Lyndon B. Johnson," the Washington Post looks at how Bush balances his resolute public persona on the Iraq war and the empathy he shows in private meetings with aides and with the families of military casualties.  "If he does not show that publicly, it's in keeping with a White House practice of not drawing attention to the mounting costs of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq...  Advisers worry that sending the wrong signal would further sap public will and embolden the enemy and Bush's critics." 

Amid critics' calls for him to resign or be replaced, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is closing in on the record for length of service in his post, USA Today notes.  "Rumsfeld has been Defense secretary for five years and eight months in the Bush administration and 14 months in the Ford administration.  The average tenure of the 21 men who have headed the Pentagon is less than three years...  Significantly, his relationship with President Bush seems unimpaired, presumably because the two men express agreement on the wisdom of invading Iraq and the need to stay the course there." 

Sen. John Kerry (D) focuses on Afghanistan in a Wall Street Journal op-ed: "When did denying al Qaeda a safe haven in Afghanistan cease to be an urgent American priority?  Somehow, we ended up with seven times more troops in Iraq -- which even the administration now admits had nothing to do with 9/11 -- than in Afghanistan, where the killers still roam free." 

Also during his media tour last week, former President Clinton alleged to Bloomberg that Republicans "'rediscover [Osama] bin Laden every two years right before the election'...  The former president acknowledged the Republican strategy, which he said is directed by White House aide Karl Rove, has had some success." 

The Republican candidate for retiring GOP Rep. Henry Hyde's seat used his party's "cut and run" line in a debate against Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth, who lost both legs in Iraq.  The Financial Times uses the moment to look at how the Iraq war is playing in this unexpectedly competitive race in the Chicago suburbs.