Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says the United States will probably not need to maintain its current troop levels in Iraq "very much longer," though she declined to provide a precise timetable for reduction in U.S. forces…
…CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reported last week that Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, has submitted a plan to withdraw a quarter of American combat forces, bringing the overall number of troops in Iraq down to below 100,000, by the end of next year…
…The withdrawal plan has not been approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and won't be until after a new Iraqi government is elected in December.
At the end of the day, I expect we'll see the execution of a plan that will look very much like the one Congressman Jack Murtha proposed.
I can't wait to watch the food fight when pols on both sides of the aisle try to claim credit for "solving" the Iraq problem.
I'm beyond caring who gets credit for solving the problem. We already know who gets credit for creating it.
NYT's Eric Lichtblau reports on the Joseph Padilla case:
The Bush administration brought terrorism charges on Tuesday against Jose Padilla in a criminal court after holding him for three and a half years in a military brig as an enemy combatant once accused in a "dirty bomb" plot.
The decision to remove Mr. Padilla from military custody and charge him in the civilian system averts what had threatened to be a constitutional showdown over the president's authority to detain him and other American citizens as enemy combatants without formal charges.
At issue were Mister Bush's suspension of the habeas corpus privilege (a power the Constitution grants to only to Congress in times of rebellion or invasion), his execution of a de facto bill of attainer (which the Constitution completely prohibits), and suspension of Mr. Padilla's rights under the fourth, fifth, sixth, and eighth amendments.
Losing this case in the Supreme Court would have led to the unraveling of major portions of the Patriot Act and an official denunciation of many extra-constitutional powers Mister Bush has exercised in his "war on terror."
With Sandra Day O'Connor still sitting on the court, it's unlikely that the administration would have won its case.
That the Justice Department agreed to turn the case over to civil jurisdiction indicates to me that they know they've been operating outside the law, and the country is starting to catch on to them.
The jig's up!
Here's hoping Congress gives us all a Christmas present by sticking the Patriot Act in the administration's eye.
Murray Was of National Journal brings us this Holiday Cheer:
Ten days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush was told in a highly classified briefing that the U.S. intelligence community had no evidence linking the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein to the attacks and that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda, according to government records and current and former officials with firsthand knowledge of the matter…
… The highly classified CIA assessment was distributed to President Bush, Vice President Cheney, the president's national security adviser [Condi Rice} and deputy national security adviser [Steven Hadley], the secretaries and undersecretaries of State and Defense [which would include Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz], and various other senior Bush administration policy makers, according to government records…
…"What the President was told on September 21," said one former high-level official, "was consistent with everything he has been told since-that the evidence was just not there."
… The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked the White House for the CIA assessment, the PDB [Presidential Daily Brief] of September 21, 2001, and dozens of other PDBs as part of the committee's ongoing investigation into whether the Bush administration misrepresented intelligence information in the run-up to war with Iraq. The Bush administration has refused to turn over these documents.
We'll see how long the admin can hold out on this one. If Congress subpoenas the PDBs, and the White House refuses to turn them over, this too could wind up in the Supreme Court. But as the Padilla case indicates, BushCo isn't all that het up about getting into fights it's likely to lose.
Ho, ho, ho!
I'm headed out of town for the rest of the weekend. If I get a chance I'll stop in and shout out, maybe tell another sea story or two.
Here's wishing everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving!