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Security Politics

Strick says that at Reid's weekly news conference yesterday, he insisted Democrats were "united" against the president's war strategy. But he also said, "There has not yet been a determination made ... as to how we will finalize our legislative approach to this. There are a number of different ways we can go." And he refused to say which strategy he preferred. "I have a preference of making sure that I have my arms around the entire caucus before I put my name on an amendment."

Meanwhile, NBC's Mike Viqueira notes that House Democrats met for an hour and half behind closed doors last night to come to a consensus position on Bush's war spending request for Iraq. Bottom line: They are still talking. They appear to be moving towards something along the lines of what Rep. John Murtha (D) has proposed -- tying the funds to troop readiness levels with the possibility of a presidential waiver. However, leading antiwar Dems like Rep. Lynn Woolsey say that they will not vote for any bill that continues funding the war. A final decision, Viq says, is due within the next ten days to two weeks.

The New York Times writes that after they emerged from their meeting, House Democrats "sought to rebut the Republican charge that the troops would suffer from their efforts to change the administration's troop buildup in Iraq. 'Let me be clear,' Ms. Pelosi told reporters. 'We will fund the troops.'"

The Chicago Tribune: "Democratic leaders remain fearful that if they do not handle the situation deftly, Republicans will paint them as micromanaging the war and failing to support the troops. On the other hand, many of the voters and groups that helped the Democrats win in November may grow frustrated and impatient if the party does not take strong action to challenge Bush's initiatives in Iraq."

Looks like Rep. Murtha isn't the only Democrat seeing his latest proposal for Iraq jeopardized by a too-early release. "Senate Democrats are accusing their leaders of mismanaging the twin efforts to block President Bush's troop surge in Iraq and force a quicker end to the war," The Politico reports. "Senate insiders faulted [Foreign Relations chair Joe] Biden and, to a lesser extent, [Armed Services chair Carl] Levin, for telegraphing their plans to Republicans prematurely -- before most members were fully briefed on it." In an effort to promote transparency in journalism, The Politico's editor-in-chief writes on the site that he actually coined the term "slow-bleed" in the process of editing a reporter's story. The term originally was used in a Politico report about Democrats' efforts to narrow President Bush's options on Iraq, but Republicans have seized upon the term to accuse Democrats of trying to deprive US troops of necessary support.

Bush's new director of national intelligence testified before a Senate committee yesterday that the term "civil war 'accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict.'" He also "cited achievements in Iraq, including efforts by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to bridge sectarian divisions and an increase in the number and quality of Iraqi security forces." 

Appeal for Redress, an organization of more than 1,600 active-duty soldiers speaking out against the continuing military presence in Iraq, held a conference call with reporters yesterday about the movement's appeal to Congress to act against the Bush Administration's troop increase. "These are soldiers who are not going AWOL, not resigning, but serving faithfully and love their country -- but at same time have a questioning attitude and misgivings about the war," said Navy petty officer Jonathan Hutto, co-founder of the movement. Because active-duty personnel cannot officially organize dissenting movements, Appeal for Redress has been depending primarily on its Web site and media coverage, and has seen its numbers grow by several hundred since CBS' 60 Minutes aired a piece about the group last Sunday.