USA Today, without mentioning the memo, nevertheless previews the Amman summit by reporting that "analysts say there is growing evidence that al-Maliki is not up to the formidable task of bringing stability to his country."
The Financial Times, noting a "rapidly hardening consensus" that Iraq is in a civil war, also points out that leaks from the Iraq Study Group and comments by some members "indicate its findings are likely to be sharply at odds with Mr Bush's insistence that the US can still achieve 'victory'... The report is expected to include an option for the 'phased redeployment' of the 145,000-strong US forces in Iraq and direct talks with Iraq's neighbours to stabilise the country."
The Washington Post looks at the stakes for the White House in the Iraq conflict being viewed as a civil war: "acknowledging that it has become [one], they fear, could collapse the already weak support for the mission among Americans. But the risk for the White House, analysts said, is that once again it will appear out of touch with reality over there and with public perception here at home."
Bloomberg says that Bush, in Amman, "will put [Maliki] on the spot to propose ways to accelerate the transfer of security responsibility to the Iraqis."
The New York Times reports that in his first detailed comments since being nominated as Defense Secretary, Robert Gates "criticized the Pentagon as failing to prepare adequately for securing Iraq after the invasion in 2003. Asked in a questionnaire from the Senate Armed Services Committee what he would have done differently in Iraq if he had been defense secretary in the last six years, Mr. Gates responded: 'War planning should be done with the understanding that postmajor-combat phase of operations can be crucial.'"
The Washington Post also notices that lawmakers of both parties and Americans seem to be increasingly blaming the Iraqis, rather than Republicans and/or the Bush Administration, for the situation on the ground in Iraq. "Several other experts of various political stripes said this tendency to dump on Baghdad feels like a preamble to withdrawal."
The Los Angeles Times follows up on USA Today's report last week about the Pentagon's expected supplemental spending request, which the Los Angeles Times pegs at $127 billion to $150 billion and says will extend beyond the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan "to other military operations connected to the Bush administration's war on terrorism. The spending plans may push the Defense Department into conflict with Democrats as they take control of Capitol Hill in January," because Democratic lawmakers have said they won't cut funding for US troops. "Even within the Pentagon, the spending request is generating controversy."
Bush's assertion yesterday "that he wants more countries in a program that allows foreigners to stay in the USA without visas" is prompting "criticism that the move could open the door to terrorists," USA Today reports. "Bush said his administration aims to add more countries to the program, created to facilitate tourism and business travel 15 years before the 9/11 attacks increased fears of terrorism. He pledged to ensure that 'those that want to continue to kill Americans aren't able to exploit the system.'"