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Security politics

 

The Washington Times covers Bush's Presidents Day remarks in which he linked the current war on terror to the nation's battle for independence.  "As he nears the end of his own two terms as president and his Iraq policy faces heavy criticism, Mr. Bush, the 43rd president, seems to take solace in the fact that historians are still digesting the first president's legacy." 

Pegged to today's closing arguments, the Washington Post looks at Cheney's "shifting status."  "There is no evidence that Cheney's close relationship with Bush has been lessened.  But there is also little doubt that the causes he has championed -- a tough skepticism of negotiations with dictatorships such as North Korea and the forceful exercise of presidential authority -- are being rethought within the Bush administration."  The story notes that "some conservatives close to the administration see Libby's resignation... as part of the unraveling of a Cheney network, leaving a void that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice... has exploited." 

The Financial Times says the fate of David Hicks, an Australian detainee at Guantanamo Bay, "is likely to overshadow" Cheney's visit to Australia "this week as pressure mounts on Canberra to show that its support for the US-led war on terror can pay dividends."  The story adds, "Australia's involvement in the US-led coalition in Iraq is becoming an increasingly important and divisive issue in the run-up to Australia's federal elections later this year.  The new debate has partly been fuelled by [Prime Minister John] Howard himself, following his sharp criticism of Barack Obama... over his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq."

The Politico reports that a new conservative group led by talk-show host Hugh Hewitt, called the Victory Caucus, is targeting the 17 GOP House members who voted for the non-binding resolution opposing a troop increase last Friday.  "At the same time, House Republicans are hitting Democrats who represent districts Bush won in hopes of preventing a congressional majority that would restrict money for Afghanistan and Iraq.  The GOP is flooding those districts with news releases and e-mails warning that Democrats are undermining U.S. troops...  The GOP political strategy is to shift the focus away from an unpopular war and unpopular president to the Republican claim that Democrats would abandon the troops." 

The Politico's Simon, following Sen. Joe Biden (D) in Iowa, looks ahead to the moment in a Democratic presidential debate when those who voted for the Iraq war resolution chant in turn that they regretted that vote -- all except for Clinton.