- The Washington Times - Friday, April 13, 2007

Letter to Congress

The leaders of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion yesterday sent every member of Congress a letter demanding war funding without strings attached.

“This critical funding request must be void of any language that directs the conduct of military operations or troop movements based on timelines established by Congress rather than the commanders on the ground, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Commander-in-Chief,” VFW National Commander Gary Kurpius and American Legion National Commander Paul Morin said in the letter on behalf their combined 4.5 million members.

They made the letter public at a Washington press conference yesterday. The letter concluded: “As leaders of our respective wartime veterans’ service organizations, we strongly encourage the removal of all restrictive language designed to influence the conduct of military operations and troop movements. Our knowledge about warfare and the evils of terrorism were learned in the hard school of experience. With all due respect to you and your colleagues — first things first — take care of the troops. They are the ones placed in harm’s way.”

Super Sunday

Drink beer, eat candy, buy a car. Now add a new pitch to next year’s lineup of Super Bowl television ads: Vote for me.

Politics? On Super Bowl Sunday? As states line up to hold presidential primaries on the first Tuesday in February, the Feb. 3 Super Bowl could look super-inviting and super-expensive to presidential campaigns eager to deliver a knockout punch, the Associated Press reports.

“That is a very ripe and timely target,” said Mark McKinnon, chief media strategist for President Bush in 2000 and 2004 and now an adviser to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign. “It would reach a huge audience at a very critical time. I think campaigns will look very closely at that.”

At the moment, California, New York and New Jersey are the Feb. 5 giants, muscling their way up the schedule to accompany the likes of Missouri, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Oklahoma and Utah. Such other big states as Texas and Illinois also want in on the early sweepstakes.

Media vs. McCain

“The Republican presidential field has recently been rocked by yet another divorce: The mainstream media have dumped Sen. John McCain,” the editors of National Review write at www.nationalreview.com.

“The former media darling has maintained a modicum of optimism about the Iraq War, which is enough for the media to conclude that he and they have irreconcilable differences. In almost every public statement, McCain has qualified his relative optimism with appropriate cautions about the uncertain nature of the promising signs and about the difficulties still ahead. Over the last week or so — on Bill Bennett’s radio show and during a trip to Iraq — McCain overstated somewhat the safety of Baghdad. He admitted as much in his ‘60 Minutes’ interview over the weekend,” the magazine said.

“But the press has been savage, making McCain out to be the ‘Tokyo Rose’ of the Iraq hawks when he has in fact been among the most honest and clear-eyed of the war’s supporters. The press never holds detractors of the war to similarly niggling standards of accuracy. It doesn’t have fits when Democrats talk of Iraq as though Moqtada al-Sadr’s thugs still roamed the streets, freely murdering and torturing. It doesn’t mind when Democrats ignore halting steps toward political reconciliation in Iraq — for example, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Sunni-outreach trip to Ramadi. It is fine with Democrats’ not noticing that the Sunni tribes are turning against al Qaeda, and that — despite all the downbeat predictions — the Iraqis have delivered the troops they promised for their end of the surge.”

On the scene

Richard Miniter of PajamasMedia.com was in Baghdad near the scene of yesterday’s bomb attack on the Iraqi parliament.

“I was in the shower at 2:30 p.m. — my first in days — when the bomb inside the nearby convention center went off. The center is used by the Iraqi parliament,” Mr. Miniter wrote at the site.

“There was no shouting or sounds of panic in the first few moments. More like quiet astonishment. The Green Zone is supposed to be an island of safety. As I hustled into my clothes, one Marine called to another in the bivouac: ‘Was that another mortar?’ ‘That was no mortar,’ the other said. …

“Heavily armed men from Triple Canopy, mostly Peruvian, escorted everyone inside the building into a parking lot ringed with a 10-foot-high chain-link fence. This became a holding pen. An American Triple Canopy employee told me that they suspected the bomber may have had an accomplice in the building. Therefore, everyone was going to be held and searched. …

“Witnesses told me that it was definitely a suicide-bomber attack. The witnesses I was able to talk to through the chain-link fence of the holding pen said that the bomber seemed to linger at the edge of the second-floor cafeteria until a seat at the center table opened up. Then he calmly walked to that table and sat down. The explosion followed in seconds.”

Veto threat

The White House has threatened to veto the annual intelligence bill that the Senate is slated to debate next week, reports Shaun Waterman of United Press International.

The Office of Management and Budget yesterday said the 2007 Intelligence Authorization bill, was “inconsistent with the need for the effective conduct of intelligence activities, the protection of intelligence sources, methods, and activities from unauthorized disclosure, and legislative-executive comity and cooperation with respect to U.S. intelligence activities.”

If it was presented to President Bush, the OMB statement went on, his senior advisers would recommend a veto.

The statement listed a series of objections to provisions in the proposed law, the annual bill that allows the specialist intelligence committees of both chambers to fine-tune the laws that govern the activities of U.S. spy agencies, and have their say over how those agencies spend the money allocated in secret annexes to congressional defense appropriations.

The new Democratic leadership of the Senate yesterday used a procedural maneuver to bring the bill to the floor, and it likely will be debated next week, several congressional sources said.

A senior staffer for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence said some changes “went partway to dealing with the administration’s concerns, but I don’t think it will be enough” to change the veto recommendation.

Santorum’s site

Former Sen. Rick Santorum announced in an e-mail to supporters yesterday that his political action committee will soon introduce a Web site with “thought-provoking and sometimes controversial video,” the Associated Press reports.

The videos will focus on “our nation’s enemies and the threats they pose to us,” said Mr. Santorum, a conservative Republican who lost his Pennsylvania seat in November. The site, slated to go online in May, also will inform viewers of what presidential and congressional candidates he supports, he said.

“I will not sit back quietly as weak senators continue to take positions simply to satisfy the liberal left,” Mr. Santorum said in an e-mail to supporters, which asked for contributions to the committee, called America’s Foundation.

c Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected].

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