Capping Off a Week of Political Frenzy

by Sam Kornell

• President Bush agreed last week to a so-called compromise bill on the rules governing the interrogation and prosecution of terrorists. The bill, hammered out between Bush and Senate Republicans including John McCain (R-Ariz.), drops the administration’s original call for the redefinition of U.S. obligations under the Geneva Convention. But despite some claims that the administration bowed to the rebellious senators by agreeing to require military interrogators to adhere to the Geneva conventions, the bill still allows CIA interrogators to employ techniques that do not coform to the legal limits set for the U.S. military. Emily Kryder, a spokesperson for Rep. Lois Capps, said that Capps was “skeptical” about the compromise, saying, “The legislative language on the so-called deal between the White House and Senate Republicans has yet to be circulated.”

• The Army’s top officer told Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld last month that the Army could not continue to function in Iraq and maintain its other global commitments without a substantial boost in funding. A story in the Los Angeles Times revealed that the Army’s chief of staff, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, took the unprecedented step of withholding the 2008 budget plan from Pentagon leaders after telling Rumsfeld that, barring significant troop withdrawals, the Army needs $138.8 billion in 2008, almost $25 billion more than budget limits set by Rumsfeld. Emily Kryder, a spokersperson for Rep. Lois Capps, said Capps believes Schoomaker’s request should be rejected, stating that Capps “does not endorse rewarding the Bush administration’s failed policy by writing repeated blank checks to continue the war in Iraq.” Kryder reiterated the Capps position that American troops should be withdrawn as soon as is safely possible.

• A National Intelligence Estimate completed in April found that the Iraq War is fueling global terrorist activity, the New York Times and Washington Post revealed on Sunday. The report — the first of its kind — found that the war is metastasizing Islamic radicalism, and that the longer it continues, the more likely it is to provide fresh training for future terrorist plots. The Bush administration sharply criticized the intelligence assessment — which represents a consensus view of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies — as “naïve.” On Tuesday, President Bush released substantial portions of the assessment, including this passage: “The Iraq conflict has become the ‘cause célèbre’ for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.”

• The chances that a top Bush administration priority — legalizing the president’s warrantless wiretapping program — will be approved before the November elections appeared weak as of press time. Because there are separate and divergent House and Senate versions of the bill, which would confer legal status on the program, it seemed unlikely there would be unified congressional legislation to vote on before the end of this week, when Congress recesses until after the November 7 elections. The House version of the bill is reportedly more stringent than its Senate counterpart in calling for restrictions on the president’s ability to wiretap suspects communicating by telephone or email from the U.S. to other countries.

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