President George W. Bush on Saturday praised what he called "progress and reconciliation" achieved in some Iraqi communities, but pointedly avoided using US government-approved benchmarks in assessing the situation in the country.
"Americans can be encouraged by the progress and reconciliation that are taking place at the local level," Bush said in his weekly radio address that came less than a month ahead of a crucial review of US military operations Iraq.
President Bush said Saturday that while political progress is moving too slowly on the national level in Iraq, positive steps in cities and towns are offering hope for future stability.
The Bush administration, facing a mid-September deadline to report to Congress on progress in Iraq, has long prodded the Iraqi government to finalize a national oil law, organize provincial elections and integrate former members of Saddam Hussein's Baathist Party back into the central government.
White House spokesman Tony Snow plans to leave his job before U.S. President George W. Bush's term ends in January 2009, citing financial reasons rather than his recurrence of colon cancer.
In a radio interview this week, Snow, 52, did not reveal when he would leave. Snow earlier this year suffered a return of colon cancer and has been receiving chemotherapy.
But he said his reasons for leaving would be financial. He took a pay cut to leave Fox News.
Recently Trent Lott, the Senate Republican whip, ominously advised his colleagues as they were debating terrorism issues that now was a good time to get out of Washington.
"I think it would be good to leave town in August, and it would probably be good to stay out until September the 12th," he said, and then quickly left on vacation.
He didn't say why the 12th particularly, but there's nothing like an unspecified terrorist threat to make those of us who live here start thinking about our own vacations, even though August is an improbable time for a terrorist attack.
The United States is expanding the use of spy satellites for domestic surveillance, turning its "eyes in sky" inward to counter terrorism and eventually for law enforcement, US officials said Wednesday.
Authorized by US intelligence chief Michael McConnell in May and managed by the Department of Homeland Security, the change will allow more federal and local agencies to tap into satellite imagery and related intelligence products, they said.
It also will expand the kind of intelligence that can be made available to include measurement and signature intelligence, which is used to identify and track targets by their particular physical characteristics, they said.
The Bush administration is taking a calculated risk with its plans to designate Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps a global terrorist organization. Tehran is certain to see it as a direct challenge to the clerical regime since it's the Guards who keep it in power and indeed produced Iran's current president..
The administration hopes that upping the ante and a stronger U.N. resolution banning travel by Iran's leaders and cutting off access to the international financial system will persuade the Iranians to give up their nuclear-weapons ambitions.
In my never-ending quest to glean information from many parts of the world, I was reading the Web site of the Sydney Morning Herald when I happened upon the story announcing the resignation of President Bush's longtime friend and political guru, Karl Rove.
"'Bush's Brain' Steps Down," the headline said.
Donald Rumsfeld, architect of the unpopular Iraq war, resigned as defense secretary before last year's November election but his decision was not announced until after the voting, according to his resignation letter obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
The letter was dated November 6, the day before voters, angered by Iraq, went to the polls and swept Republicans from power in Congress. According to a stamp on the letter, President George W. Bush saw it on election day.
Bush, however, did not announce that Rumsfeld would leave until the day after the election.
The resignation of Karl Rove, architect of President George W. Bush's election triumphs and a crucial behind-the-scenes policy guru, is the latest sign of the White House's diminished agenda and shattered dreams of a Republican super-majority, analysts said.
Rove, the last and most prominent of Bush's inner circle of Texas advisers to quit the administration, leaves a lame-duck president suffering from low approval ratings, an unpopular war in Iraq and public rejection in the 2006 elections.
With Democrats in control of Congress and brimming with optimism about the 2008 White House race, Rove's talk of a lasting and historic shift to Republican dominance seems long ago.
They say in Washington that no one's indispensable, but for the Bush White House Karl Rove comes close. Now, in another blow the White House didn't really need, Rove has announced that he is resigning at the end of the month and returning to Texas.
The White House didn't even try to put a good face on it. "Obviously, it's a big loss for us," said deputy press secretary Dana Perino.