The Washington Times reports that Bush Administration officials who have "read the classified assessments" say the recent US "intelligence analyses of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs were flawed and the lack of clarity on the issue hampered U.S. diplomatic efforts to avert the" missile test. "Some recent secret reports stated that Pyongyang did not have nuclear arms and until recently was bluffing about plans for a test," per these officials.
The New York Times: "Bush said Wednesday that he would not use force against North Korea because 'diplomacy hasn't run its course,' but acknowledged that many Americans wonder why he invaded Iraq but has not taken military action to head off North Korea's race for a bomb."
Bloomberg rounds up criticism of the Bush Administration for focusing on the wrong threat -- that instead of focusing on Iraq, which has turned out to have no WMD, it should have focused on North Korea, which apparently does have WMD.
During his news conference yesterday, Bush "opened the door to possible changes in his approach to the Iraq war... amid pressure from Republicans about the unrelenting violence and the shortcomings of the government in Baghdad," says the Los Angeles Times. "Bush did not specify what changes he would be willing to consider," "remained committed to involvement in Iraq until the country was stable and democratic," and "continued to characterize opposing views as 'cut-and-run'... Some political analysts said Bush's comments were tailored for the upcoming midterm elections... Yet they said the language might also hint that changes will come after the elections."
Yesterday's news that the Army plans to maintain troop levels in Iraq until 2010 is "a stark signal that top commanders see little prospect of reducing American force levels soon and are bracing for more violence," notes the Boston Globe. "Pentagon officials sought to play down the projection, stressing that it does not necessarily mean that the United States will maintain current force levels for the next four years."
USA Today mentions in its look at the escalating sectarian violence in Iraq, "The weekly average of U.S. deaths since President Bush declared the end of major combat operations in May 2003 has been about 14."
Two days ago, it was Sen. John McCain versus the Clintons over whose failed policy was to blame for allowing North Korea to test a nuclear bomb. Yesterday, NBC's Ken Strickland notes, another Senator with presidential aspirations (and one with some catching up to do in raising his national profile) weighed into the fray: Democrat Chris Dodd took a swing at McCain by defending the Clinton Administration. "I take strong issue with Senator McCain's characterization of President Clinton's North Korea policy as a failure," Dodd said in a written statement. "Some 'straight talk' to correct the record is called for."
Dodd says that after the Clinton Administration concluded the 1994 Agreed Framework, North Korea acquired no additional fissile material until the Bush Administration "walked away" from the deal in 2002. "Since then, the North Koreans have been busily reprocessing spent fuel that had been frozen and under IAEA seal and has now produced enough fissile material to build as many as ten nuclear bombs," Dodd said.
He added that the country has also restarted its nuclear facilities, "giving North Korea additional nuclear material for one additional bomb per year. For Senator McCain to declare the Clinton policy a failure flies in the face of the facts." While Dodd vigorously defended former President Clinton, whom he served as a co-chair of the Democratic National Committee, he made no mention of the comments from his Senate colleague and presidential rival Hillary Clinton.
In a blog entry on the HuffingtonPost.com, Sen. John Kerry (D) said there is nothing regrets more than voting for the Iraq war. "Yesterday's pronouncement marks Kerry's latest attempt to establish himself as a firmly antiwar senator as he prepares for another possible run for the White House."
And in her remarks to the New York Daily News editorial board, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D) explains her stance on Iraq, pledging support to the redeployment of troops and diplomatic talks with Middle Eastern countries in order to bring stability to the country.