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Iraq

Yesterday, Bush made another case that Al Qaeda in Iraq is a threat to the US. "Bush made provocative new assertions Tuesday about Al Qaeda's role in Iraq, using recently declassified information to make his case that the global battle with the terrorism network — and Americans' safety at home — hinges on keeping U.S. troops there to fight. Bush's comments were met with skepticism by some terrorism experts and former U.S. intelligence officials, who said the president exaggerated or even misrepresented the facts in Iraq… Bush's impassioned 28-minute speech was the administration's longest and most detailed argument to date that Al Qaeda in Iraq and Bin Laden's terrorist operation were one and the same. Bush used it, he acknowledged, to rebut his critics' assertions that the Iraqi militant group was not justification enough for keeping U.S. troops in the war-riven country."

The New York Times front-pages Bush's relationship with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki. "In sessions usually lasting more than an hour, Mr. Bush, a committed Christian of Texas by way of privileged schooling in New England, and Mr. Maliki, an Iraqi Shiite by way of political exile in Iran and Syria, talk about leadership and democracy, troop deployments and their own domestic challenges. Sometimes, said an official who has sat in on the meetings, they talk about their faith in God." 

The House will take up a measure today that would ban the establishment of permanent US military bases in Iraq, NBC's Mike Viqueira reports. The free-standing bill will be put forward by Rep. Barbara Lee (D), a leader of the "Progressive Caucus" in the House. Dem leaders aim to put the item on the floor this week, with two more Iraq-related measures on tap for next week. The next four weeks after that are devoted to recess.

Salon's Walter Shapiro believes Monday night's YouTube debate actually exposed a division on the issue of Iraq between the major candidates. "The issue that exposed these Democratic divisions was, in essence, what should a new Democratic president do about the Iraq war? The fault line Monday night was primarily between Bill Richardson ('I believe we should bring all the troops home ... in six months with no residual forces') and Chris Dodd on one side, and Joe Biden ('There is not a single military man in this audience who will tell this senator that he can get the troops out in six months') and Hillary Clinton ('Joe is right') on the other."