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Security Politics

Per a new Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll, three-fifths of the public oppose Bush's plan to send more US troops to Iraq, and 51% say they want to block that deployment. Moreover, just 33% approve of Bush's handling of the Iraq war, and 39% approve of Bush's overall job performance. "The sole ray of light for Bush in the poll may be signs of public ambivalence about how Congress should respond to his plans on Iraq. Despite the widespread opposition to the troop escalation, Americans divide more closely on whether lawmakers should try to stop it."

"The poll also shows the potential saliency of the war in the 2008 presidential elections, especially for Senator John McCain of Arizona… A plurality of self-defined moderates and independents, a key McCain constituency, said his advocacy of a troop escalation even larger than the one Bush has announced makes them less likely to support him if he runs for the White House."

Lots of news yesterday: A bipartisan group of senators -- led by Sens. Biden, Levin, Hagel, and Snowe -- unveiled a Senate resolution opposing Bush's troop increase in Iraq; the Bush Administration reversed course on its warrantless surveillance program; and Hillary Clinton, as she eyes a presidential bid, issued her harshest criticism of the war. Sens. Snowe and Mary Landrieu will likely discuss it all when they appear today on MSNBC's Hardball.

The Washington Post says the Senate non-binding resolution, "which could come to a vote within two weeks, moves Congress a major step closer to a public confrontation with the Bush administration over war policy… A week after Bush addressed the nation on his policy shift, bipartisan opposition appears to be gaining steam, despite continuing White House efforts to tamp down a congressional revolt."

The AP notes how the resolution "threatens to expose fissures within the GOP over the unpopular war." More: "Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said his panel will debate the measure on Jan. 24, the day following Bush's State of the Union address. A swift committee review would pave the way for debate on the floor as early as that week, although Democrats say it is likely Republicans on the committee will want to make changes." 

Roll Call: "Despite lobbying from President Bush, Cheney and other top administration officials, GOP leadership aides said their party is too fractured on Iraq for a unified position. One aide said that while GOP leaders will engage Democrats on the issue, the divisions are so deep that it is unlikely major pressure will be brought to bear on wayward Republicans."

The Washington Post covers Hillary Clinton's announcement yesterday that she supports the nonbinding Senate resolution against Bush's troop increase, and would go further by introducing legislation to cap the numbers of US soldiers in Iraq. It was "her harshest assessment to date of President Bush's Iraq war strategy yesterday, continuing her steady evolution from one of the war's staunchest supporters to one of the administration's most prominent critics."

Liberal MoveOn issued this statement yesterday on Clinton: "We look forward to seeing Senator Clinton use her powers as a senator to stop the escalation and move towards a redeployment. A key test is how any senator puts words into action. We would welcome her future leadership."

USA Today looks at the all of yesterday's maneuvering on Iraq by the presidential hopefuls.

Democratic Sens. Patty Murray, Ted Kennedy, Sherrod Brown, and Bernie Sanders will hold a press conference this morning on the Hill along with Iraq war veterans, who are part of the newly formed Americans Against Escalation in Iraq. After the press conference, the group will pay visits to the offices of (among others) Obama, Clinton, Kerry, and Brownback.

The Washington Post covers the Bush Administration's decision yesterday to disband its warrantless surveillance program. "The change -- revealed by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in a letter to the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- marks an abrupt reversal by the administration, which for more than a year has aggressively defended the legality of the NSA surveillance program and disputed court authority to oversee it… Administration officials suggested that the move was aimed in part at quelling persistent objections to the NSA spying by Democrats who now control Congress."

The Boston Globe also speculates that the "White House decision seemed timed to block a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union, which was set to go before an appeals court on Jan. 31. Last year, a federal judge agreed with the ACLU that Bush's wiretapping program was illegal."

NBC's Courtney Kube notes that today marks Robert Gates' one-month anniversary of as Defense secretary; he was sworn in on December 18, 2006.