War support way down
A new New York Times/CBS poll shows that "support for the war in Iraq has eroded substantially over the past several months, and Americans are increasingly critical of the way President Bush is handling the conflict."
" ... Asked whether the United States had done the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, 47 percent of respondents said it had, down from 58 percent a month earlier and 63 percent in December, just after American forces captured Saddam Hussein. Forty-six percent said the United States should have stayed out of Iraq, up from 37 percent last month and 31 percent in December."
"The diminished public support for the war did not translate into any significant advantage for Mr. Bush's Democratic challenger, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts. The poll showed the two men remaining in a statistical dead heat, both in a head-to-head matchup and in a three-way race that included Ralph Nader."
The poll was taken after images of flag-draped coffins circulated on the Internet despite a Pentagon ban on such photos. CBS News has more disturbing images out of Iraq -- photos of U.S. soldiers abusing and humiliating Iraqi prisoners.
Bush, Cheney side-by-side
The Washington Post reports on the joint appearance today by the president and vice president before the 9/11 commission and says the duo will be quizzed on a wide range of topics, including what happened on the day of the attacks.
"Panel investigators have discovered evidence that casts doubt on several official narratives that emerged about that day. One focuses on early White House statements that Bush initially did not return to Washington on Sept. 11 because he was told the White House received a phone call saying that Air Force One was a target. The caller is said to have used a classified code word, 'angel,' for the aircraft. The investigators have looked into the story and found no evidence of any such call, according to a source familiar with the staff findings who asked for anonymity because the information was not supposed to be disclosed."
" ... Commission members -- several of whom declined to be identified because they did not wish to discuss the interview publicly -- said that much of the discussion is likely to revolve around conflicting testimony from former counterterrorism adviser Richard A. Clarke and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. Clarke has said in testimony and a new book that the Bush administration did not view terrorism as a priority before the attacks. Rice told the commission that the White House was pursuing an al Qaeda strategy that was more aggressive than the Clinton administration's."
"Commissioners said another central topic will be the President's Daily Brief delivered to Bush on Aug. 6, 2001. One article in the brief, titled 'Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US,' warned that the FBI had observed 'patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks.' Bush, who declassified the memo on April 10, has said it did not provide any 'actionable intelligence' or specific threat."
The Move On Voter Fund is running an ad in the New York Times quoting the PDB. The ad says: "BIN LADIN DETERMINED TO STRIKE IN U.S. President Bush Received this Warning Weeks Before September 11, 2001. He Did Nothing."
Insurgents Saddam's agents?
The New York Times got its hands on a Pentagon intelligence report that concludes "many bombings against Americans and their allies in Iraq, and the more sophisticated of the guerrilla attacks in Falluja, are organized and often carried out by members of Saddam Hussein's secret service, who planned for the insurgency even before the fall of Baghdad."
"The report states that Iraqi officers of the 'Special Operations and Antiterrorism Branch,' known within Mr. Hussein's government as M-14, are responsible for planning roadway improvised explosive devices and some of the larger car bombs that have killed Iraqis, Americans and other foreigners. The attacks have sown chaos and fear across Iraq ... Its findings were based on interrogations with high-ranking M-14 members who are now in American custody, as well as on documents uncovered and translated by the Iraq Survey Group. While the report cites specific evidence, other important assessments of American intelligence on Iraq have been challenged and even proven wrong."
Bush lets China off hook
The Financial Times reports that President Bush refuses "to launch investigations into claims that China is manipulating its currency and suppressing workers' wages in violation of its international trade commitments."
"The decision, announced by four cabinet secretaries, removes the threat of an escalating conflict between Washington and Beijing over two of the most volatile issues in their bilateral trade relations. But in rejecting the petitions from US labour unions and manufacturers, the Bush administration is gambling that it can defend itself against election-year charges that it has gone soft on China at the expense of US workers and companies."
"The AFL-CIO, the umbrella trade union group, last month petitioned the administration to launch an investigation into Chinese labour practices, charging that China was deliberately suppressing wage rates to gain unfair trade advantages and should be faced with tariff penalties to protect the jobs of US workers. A coalition led by the National Association of Manufacturers was also set to file a separate case claiming that China was artificially holding down the value of its currency in violation of World Trade Organisation rules."
Kerry, back on message, talks jobs
The Los Angeles Times reports that after two days of fending off GOP assaults on his post-Vietnam and national security records, John Kerry got back on message talking about jobs in Midwestern battleground states.
"On Monday and Tuesday, Kerry's proposals were overshadowed by sharp-edged exchanges between him and the Bush campaign. Led by Vice President Dick Cheney, Republicans questioned Kerry's national security credentials; the Massachusetts senator responded by calling on Bush to prove that he had fulfilled his duty to the National Guard in the early 1970s. But on Wednesday, Kerry stuck squarely to economic issues, trying to seize on the beleaguered state of manufacturing in the Midwest. It's a theme he is expected to hammer on throughout the year, especially as he battles to win Ohio, a pivotal swing state."
"The president's reelection campaign is fighting just as hard to neutralize economic worries in Ohio, which voted narrowly for Bush in 2000. On Wednesday, the Bush campaign released a memo citing news reports that the country's manufacturing sector was on the upswing and that jobless claims had dropped."
" ... But Kerry told several hundred people in Toledo's UAW Local 12 that the new jobs being created did not pay as much as those that had been lost. 'Anybody able to keep up paying the bills?' he asked. 'No!' answered the audience. 'My friends, where's the president?' Kerry asked. 'Where's the plan to deal with this?'"
Protests too big for Central Park?
The AP says an antiwar group planning a massive demonstration in New York City during the GOP convention has been denied a permit to use Central Park for the event because the gathering will be too large.
"United for Peace and Justice said it planned to appeal. The city parks department denied the group's request to rally on the park's Great Lawn after a march through city streets. A permit request for the march, submitted separately to the police department, is pending. In denying the park permit, city officials said the Aug. 29 event would exceed the 13-acre lawn's capacity of 80,000 people and 'cause enormous damage to the lawn.' The group said on its application that it expected 250,000 demonstrators."
"In its appeal, the group said it would state that many events with more than 80,000 people had taken place on the lawn, including a 1981 Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel concert that drew at least 400,000 fans and a 1982 antinuclear demonstration attended by more than 750,000 people, considered the largest protest in city history."