The White House continues to try to shoot down media accounts of disputes between the Administration and Prime Minister Maliki over the way forward in Iraq. In his own efforts to do so, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ranted at the media yesterday, saying they "ought to just back off" questions about a timetable for US troop withdrawal from Iraq, reports NBC's Courtney Kube. Rumsfeld went on to say, "I wouldn't waste a lot of newsprint trying to find daylight between everybody on this or try to find things that are wrong with it."
Linguist George Lakoff, who has advised Democrats on political language, argues in a New York Times op-ed that Bush's change in rhetoric on the Iraq war -- by abandoning "stay the course" -- won't work. "To keep staying the course, given obvious reality, is to get deeper into disaster in Iraq, while not staying the course is to abandon one's moral authority as a conservative. Either way, the president loses."
The New York Times revisits how divided Democrats are on Iraq. "Nineteen House members sponsored a bill to cut off funds for the war. The Democratic Senate candidate in Pennsylvania opposes a deadline for ending American involvement in Iraq. The Democratic candidate for Senate in Ohio wants all the troops out within two years. Representative Nancy Pelosi… is calling for immediate steps to begin to remove American forces, with all of them out of Iraq by the end of 2007." More: "The range of proposals in part reflects the military, political and sectarian maze that Iraq has become… But the range of proposals also illustrates the state of the Democratic Party, which has not held executive power for six years or controlled the Congress for twice that long."
McClatchy reported yesterday 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. The Financial Times reports today, "A spokeswoman for Mr Cheney denied that he had endorsed or confirmed the use of water-boarding." The Washington Post runs the excerpt from that radio interview.
The chair of the House Intelligence Committee has filed paperwork seeking a formal probe of the leak of portions of the National Intelligence Estimate that damaged the Administration's standing on Iraq. As NBC's Mike Viqueira reported recently, Republican House members are alleging that a Democratic staffer may have been the source of the leak.