White House

Can Bush still sell his Iraq war?

President Bush took advantage of a vacationing Congress, a surprise visit to once-restive Anbar province and supportive words from Australia’s prime minister to trumpet his claims of progress in Iraq. Now he must press his case to skeptical lawmakers and a war-weary U.S. public.

The coming week may be his last opportunity to shift the debate — or at least to give Republicans political cover and throw Democrats off stride.

The White House rollout strategy envisions a presidential speech to the nation, either Thursday or Friday.

Judge strikes down part of Patriot Act

A federal judge in New York Thursday slapped down parts of the controversial USA Patriot Act and criticized Congress for abandoning its role of oversight, saying when “the judiciary lowers its guard on the Constitution it opens the door to far-reaching invasions of privacy.”

The ruling is a victory for the American Civil Liberties Union and an Internet service provider that challenged an FBI-issued National Security Letter that allows the government to gain access to personal records without court oversight.

The decider didn’t decide

The words seemed to be written with flashing neon lights, the way they demanded a reader’s attention — even though you had to read past some 1,400 other words before you got to them in the article that began on Page One of Sunday’s New York Times.

Wiccans not welcome

Roberta Stewart was the public face of a long but ultimately successful campaign to allow Wiccan symbols on the government-issued grave markers of fallen military members of the faith.

Her husband, Nevada Army National Guard Sgt. Patrick Stewart, died in a 2005 helicopter crash in Afghanistan, but rules forbade a Wiccan pentacle from being placed on his final resting place. His widow and other Wiccans pressed the issue, and the Department of Veterans Affairs relented earlier this year.

Rove to Bush: Don’t pick Cheney

Recently-departed White House adviser Karl Rove warned George W. Bush ahead of the 2000 election that picking Dick Cheney as his vice president would be a mistake, according to a new book set to hit bookstores Tuesday.

The Washington Post reported Monday that in the book — “Dead Certain: The Presidency of George Bush” — journalist Robert Draper reveals that Bush was intent on picking Cheney as his running mate, despite his warnings against it.

Bush may consider troop cuts

After months of stubbornly refusing even to consider cutting U.S. troop levels in Iraq, President George W. Bush has suddenly decided the idea is no longer taboo.

He raised the possibility during a surprise visit to a desert air base in Iraq’s Anbar province on Monday, saying there were signs of improved security and that some U.S. troops could be withdrawn from the country if the trend continued.

White House claims surge in Iraq support

President George W. Bush is gaining support among both wavering Republicans and anti-war Democrats for his embattled Iraq strategy, a top White House aide said Sunday.

Speaking as Congress awaits a pivotal report on the progress of Bush’s “surge” of nearly 30,000 more troops, new White House counselor Ed Gillespie said the deployment was curbing Iraq’s rampant bloodshed.

Bush faces mounting woes on Iraq

President Bush huddled with top military leaders about the Iraq war Friday, and Pentagon officials defended efforts to rid the Iraqi national police of sectarian bias and corruption, even as an independent review found the force too tainted to continue.

In an hour and a half meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff in a secure Pentagon room dubbed “the Tank,” Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney heard from leaders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, who are worried about strains that are building on the forces — and on troops’ families — as a result of lengthy and repeated tours in Iraq.

Tony Snow steps down

President Bush announced Friday that press secretary Tony Snow, who has waged a battle with cancer while manning the White House lectern, will resign and be replaced by his deputy, Dana Perino, on Sept. 14.

“It’s been a joy to watch him spar with you,” Bush told the White House press corps in the briefing room.

Dems blast Bush over Iraq funding

Democratic leaders warned Wednesday that Congress must stop writing “blank checks” for the Iraq war, after a report said the White House would request an extra 50 billion dollars in funding.

The Pentagon however said the report by the Washington Post that President George W. Bush could seek to take spending on the Iraq and Afghan wars to three billion dollars a week, was “premature.”

Democratic leaders have tried and failed to use past emergency funding bills for the war to force Bush to accept troop withdrawal timetables.