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Security politics

 

The AP: "The U.S. military on Thursday announced the deaths of five U.S. troops in fighting in Iraq, raising to 96 the number of American forces killed this month...  The latest deaths raised to 96 the number of U.S. forces killed in October, the highest toll for any month this year and on course to surpass the October 2005 total of 96.  Before that the deadliest months were January 2005, at 107; November 2004 at 137 and April 2004, at 135." 

The Washington Post on Bush's press conference yesterday: "Bush made the unusual move of calling a second news conference in as many weeks to address the public concern, and then opened the event with a 16-minute speech, knowing television networks would carry it live."  After a reporter pressed Bush on whether or not the United States is winning the war, Bush said yes.  "Asked afterward whether Bush meant that the United States is winning in Iraq specifically or in the fight against terrorism, White House press secretary Tony Snow said: 'In Iraq.'" 

He "used "frank admissions of overestimations, underperformance and flat-out errors... to try to assuage angry voters, who by most election strategists' accounts plan to vote Republicans out of control of Congress in just two weeks," per the Washington Times

A New York Times news analysis notes that Bush "gambled" with his press conference "that he could rescue Republican candidates who are having a hard time defending the war and an even harder time running away from it." 

And yet, in the wake of the press conference come a handful of articles -- in Bloomberg and the Washington Post -- looking at how GOP House and Senate candidates are distancing themselves from Bush on Iraq in increasing numbers, and how what the party had hoped would be a broad, winning issue of terrorism has narrowed to Iraq and turned sour. 

In advance of Bush's press conference, the Democratic National Committee released a web ad via YouTube.  The ad notes that October is "the bloodiest month for US troops in Iraq in two years" and points out that with the election "looming," the White House has "dropped" its "stay the course" rhetoric.

McClatchy reports that Vice President Cheney told a conservative radio host on Tuesday that the Administration doesn't regard water-boarding as torture and allows the CIA to use the technique.  "'It's a no-brainer for me,' Cheney said at one point in an interview.  Cheney's comments,… appeared to reflect the Bush administration's view that the president has the constitutional power to do whatever he deems necessary to fight terrorism."