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Security politics


President Bush is in Vietnam, where he's returning to talk of his freedom agenda, which was set aside in the months leading up to the midterm elections.  He continues to be dogged by questions about the situation in Iraq and similarities to the Vietnam war, and said in Hanoi that lessons from Vietnam can be applied in Iraq, including, "We'll succeed unless we quit."  The arguably awkward implication of this statement comes after Bush's staff posted the wrong Vietnamese flag on the White House website, and after Bush failed to get Congress to pass the Vietnam trade pact he had wanted to tout upon his arrival, all giving the impression that this trip is a little snake-bit.

The New York Times: "In private, some White House officials concede it is spectacularly poor timing.  Just as Lyndon B. Johnson did in 1968, Mr. Bush has ousted his longtime defense secretary and nominated a realist with 'fresh eyes' to replace him.  Just like President Johnson in 1968, he is conducting a broad rethinking of strategy, and is hearing options he does not like."  More: "His aides argue that the analogies between these wars are mostly false.  The comparisons will nonetheless be the unavoidable subtext of Mr. Bush's every move as he travels." 

Democrats are insisting that they won't cut funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now Bush officials may call them on that.  USA Today reports that the Administration "is preparing its largest spending request yet for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a proposal that could make the conflict the most expensive since World War II.  The Pentagon is considering $127 billion to $160 billion in requests from the armed services for the 2007 fiscal year...  That's on top of $70 billion already approved for 2007...  The new request being considered for the war on terror would be about one-fourth what the government spends annually on Social Security - and 10 times what it spends on its space program.  The White House called the figures premature." 

The latest AP-Ipsos poll finds that just 31% of Americans approve of Bush's handling of Iraq -- the lowest mark ever in this poll.  Bush's own job approval rating stands at 36%. 

Presidential contender and Sen. Chris Dodd (D) has introduced legislation to amend the newly minted bill governing military tribunals of detainees, The Hill reports.  "Dodd's bill, which currently has no co-sponsors, seeks to give habeas corpus protections to military detainees; bar information that was gained through coercion from being used in trials and empower military judges to exclude hearsay evidence they deem to be unreliable."  Incoming Senate Judiciary chair Pat Leahy "also said that he is in the process of drafting 'major changes' to the legislation."