White House

Bush to announce conditional troop cut

President Bush will tell the nation this week he plans to reduce the American troop presence in Iraq by about 30,000 by next summer, but will condition those and further cuts on continued progress, The Associated Press has learned.

In a prime-time television address, probably Thursday, Bush will endorse the recommendations of his top general and top diplomat in Iraq, following their appearance at two days of hearings in Congress, administration officials said. The White House plans to issue a written status report on the so-called “surge” on Friday, they said.

Rumsfeld: Afghanistan war a ‘success’

In an interview billed as his first since leaving the top Pentagon post, Donald Rumsfeld calls Afghanistan “a big success,” but says U.S. efforts in Iraq are hampered by the failure of Iraq’s government to establish a foundation for democracy.

“In Afghanistan, 28 million people are free. They have their own president, they have their own parliament. Improved a lot on the streets,” Rumsfeld says in the October issue of GQ magazine.

Laura Bush fine after surgery

First lady Laura Bush underwent surgery Saturday to relieve pain from pinched nerves in her neck. The White House said the procedure was successful.

The problem kept her from joining President Bush on a trip to Australia this week for the annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Sydney.

Bush’s plan: Stay the course

President Bush’s top two military and political advisers on Iraq will warn Congress on Monday that making any significant changes to the current war strategy will jeopardize the limited security and political progress made so far, The Associated Press has learned.

U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who has been less forthcoming than Gen. David Petraeus in advance of his testimony, will join Petraeus in pushing for maintaining the U.S. troop surge, seeing it as the only viable option to prevent Iraq and the region from plunging into further chaos, U.S. officials said.

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.