Bush wants a ‘war czar’

041107war.jpgThe White House wants to appoint a high-profile overseer to manage the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but has had trouble finding someone to take the job, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

At least three retired four-star generals approached by the White House in recent weeks have turned down the position, the report said.

The war “czar” would report directly to President George W. Bush and national security adviser Stephen Hadley and would have authority to issue directions to the Pentagon and the State Department, the newspaper said.

Retired Marine Gen. John “Jack” Sheehan, a former top NATO commander, was among those who rejected the job, the newspaper reported.

“The very fundamental issue is, they don’t know where the hell they’re going,” Sheehan told the Post.

Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Dick Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq, the Post reported.

“So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, ‘No, thanks,’ ” Sheehan told the paper.

Retired Army Gen. Jack Keane and retired Air Force Gen. Joseph Ralston were also approached and said they were not interested in the position, the newspaper said, citing sources.

Ralston declined to comment while Keane confirmed he turned down the job, the Post said.

The White House has not publicly disclosed its interest in creating the position, hoping to find someone to fill the post before the job is announced.

Officials said they were still considering options to reorganize the White House’s management of the two wars, the Post said.

Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited

You’ve got supoenas!

When President Bush took office, he said he would not use e-mail in the White House so that his communications could not be subpoenaed.

But the White House, no less than any other operation today, can’t do business without e-mail. Bush’s aides do use e-mail and now, true to the president’s prediction, their communications have been subpoenaed.

Official communications through the White House computer system are preserved and eventually will be archived and made public. But the picture becomes murkier where private e-mail accounts are involved.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of a House committee on government oversight, says he has evidence that senior White House officials used private, nongovernmental e-mail accounts, generally belonging to the Republican National Committee, “to avoid leaving a record of official communications.”

If so, this is a violation of at least the spirit of the 1978 Presidential Records Act, which says that White House documents generated in the course of official business are public property and must be preserved.

The White House insists that the use of private e-mail accounts through the RNC is to avoid running afoul of the Hatch Act, which restricts the use of government employees and property for partisan political purposes.

However, in the White House the distinction between the official and the political is not always so easy to draw. But Waxman’s investigators say that White House aides clearly crossed the line in three instances: The private accounts were used to plan the firings of eight U.S. attorneys the White House wanted to get rid of; to circulate to Bush appointees a presentation on Democrats targeted for defeat in 2008; and to communicate with since-disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Based on what’s known so far, and especially given the secrecy of the Bush White House, it does look as if at least some Bush aides were trying to circumvent the Presidential Records Act.

While that’s being sorted out, it might be a good time to revisit the Act to specify more precisely what are governmental and nongovernmental communications, and to bring the law generally up to date with the world of e-mail and instant messaging.

Unlike Bush, future presidents may not have the luxury of avoiding them.

–DALE McFEATTERS

Another Bush plan headed for failure

President Bush has re-launched his drive to win passage of comprehensive immigration-law reform, very likely his last chance at a major legislative initiative.

The White House has advanced a detailed plan, but one the White House stops short of labeling the president’s, saying it is a draft and intended to put ideas on the table for discussion. It’s unlikely opponents will be fooled.

The Bush draft calls for stepped-up border security, tougher enforcement of laws against hiring undocumented workers and a guest-worker program. But the real sticking point is a path for the 12 million illegal immigrants here now to gain legal residence and eventually citizenship.

Bush would grant illegal workers here now three-year renewable visas at a cost of $3,500 each time. To become legal permanent residents, recipients of these “Z visas” would have to return to their homeland, pay a $10,000 fine and apply for re-entry through a U.S. consulate.

While these provisions are fairly onerous, it’s doubtful they will mollify immigration hard-liners who will construe it as a form of amnesty. The hard-liners say they will consider a path to legal residence once the borders are secure, but such security can never be 100 percent. While raids on workplaces have been stepped up, they’ve been seen as controversial and disruptive and have produced a catalog of hard-luck stories that only makes the government look heartless.

The Senate is more accommodating than the House on reform and it will go first with a bill now being negotiated between the Bush administration and Republicans, to be voted on at the end of May.

The problem is the House. Democratic support for Bush-style reform is less now than it was in the last session when Republicans tried to make it radioactive. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly has said that to win passage of a comprehensive bill — one that is more than just bigger fences and tougher enforcement — Bush will have to deliver around 70 Republican votes.

Bush showed real political courage on immigration reform, but his standing with congressional Republicans has dwindled so far that courage might not be enough and, like other of his initiatives that have stalled — the Iraq war, Social Security reform, tax reform — immigration may have to wait for the next president.

–DALE McFEATTERS

Bush tries to resell guest worker plan

040907bush.jpg
Bush at the border (AP)


By BEN FELLER

President Bush visited the U.S.-Mexico border Monday to tout a guest worker program for immigrants, pursuing a key domestic policy goal despite chilly relations with Congress.

The trip, a bookend to the visit that Bush made to the same southwest desert city last May, comes as tension rises over a new immigration proposal tied to the White House. Bush’s team is privately working hard to rally votes for what Bush calls comprehensive reform — a mix of get-tough security with promises of fair treatment for undocumented residents.

Upon arriving in Yuma, Bush met Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. The two took a quick look at the “Predator,” an unmanned plane that border officials use to monitor the region.

Bush pointed to two new layers of fencing that have been erected at the border since he visited the same spot a year ago.

“It’s amazing the progress that’s been made,” Bush told border officials. “I was most impressed by your strategy, but more impressed by the fact that it’s now being implemented.”

Both Bush and the Democratic-run Congress are eager to show some accomplishment on a core issue like immigration. Yet, it’s a sticky subject, and the fault lines don’t necessarily fall along party lines. For Bush, opportunities to see through his domestic agenda are shrinking.

With up to 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., lawmakers haven’t agreed on how to uphold the law without disrupting lives, eroding the work force and risking political upheaval.

Bush is hopeful for a legislative compromise by August. He was making his case at a point along the Yuma Sector Border, a 125-mile stretch overlapping Arizona and California. Bush hoped to send a message — particularly to conservative critics from his own party — that the stepped-up border enforcement is working.

So far this budget year, apprehensions of people crossing illegally in the Yuma Sector is down 68 percent, according to the White House. Bush credits that to the power of deterrence.

The president’s relations with Congress these days have been soured by the war in Iraq. He is at odds with Democratic lawmakers over a bill to extend war funding in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Presidential spokesman Gordon Johndroe said that although war dominates the headlines, “there’s a lot of quiet work that goes on underneath the surface, so that we can get some legislation done on issues like immigration.”

Administration officials led by Chertoff and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez have been meeting privately for weeks with Republican senators. That expanded to a meeting in late March with key senators from both parties.

Out of that session, a work-in-progress plan emerged — one described as a draft White House plan by officials in both parties and advocacy groups who got copies of the detailed blueprint.

The White House disputes that characterization. Spokesman Scott Stanzel said it was only a starting point, an emerging consensus of Republican senators and the White House.

Regardless, the floated proposal has already met opposition. Thousands of people marched through Los Angeles on Saturday, spurred in part by what they called a betrayal by Bush.

The plan would grant work visas to undocumented immigrants but require them to return home and pay hefty fines to become legal U.S. residents. They could apply for three-year work visas, dubbed “Z” visas, which would be renewable indefinitely but cost $3,500 each time.

Briefing reporters on Bush’s flight to Arizona, Johndroe would not offer the president’s position on the “Z” visas.

“There are a lot of proposals floating around out there,” Johndroe said. “I don’t want to negotiate from here. I’m going to let secretaries Chertoff and Gutierrez do that with members.”

The undocumented workers would have legal status with the visas, but to become legal permanent residents with a green card, they’d have to return to their home country, apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate to re-enter legally and pay a $10,000 fine.

That’s far more restrictive than the bipartisan bill the Senate approved last year.

So far, Bush has only gotten part of what he wants — border legislation. He signed a bill last October authorizing 700 additional miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The president has spent much of the last four days on vacation at his Texas ranch. He returns to Washington Monday after the Arizona visit.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

White House used shadow computer system

040907rose.jpgThe Bush White House, already recognized as the most secretive in history, used laptop computers and other communications devices paid for by the Republican National Committee to conceal questionable activities from investigators and circumvent the law.

The laptops, used alongside official White House computers, provided a way for Bush political guru Karl Rove (above) to work “off the books” and send communications that bypassed traditional channels and avoid the tracking systems used in the West Wing.

Writes Tom Hambuger of the Los Angeles Times:

When Karl Rove and his top deputies arrived at the White House in 2001, the Republican National Committee provided them with laptop computers and other communication devices to be used alongside their government-issued equipment.

The back-channel e-mail and paging system, paid for and maintained by the RNC, was designed to avoid charges that had vexed the Clinton White House — that federal resources were being used inappropriately for political campaign purposes.

Now, that dual computer system is creating new embarrassment and legal headaches for the White House, the Republican Party and Rove’s once-vaunted White House operation.

Democrats say evidence suggests the RNC e-mail system was used for political and government policy matters in violation of federal record preservation and disclosure rules.

In addition, Democrats point to a handful of e-mails obtained through ongoing inquiries suggesting the system may have been used to conceal such activities as contacts with lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was convicted on bribery charges and is now in prison for fraud.

Democratic congressional investigators are beginning to demand access to this RNC-White House communications system, which was used not only by Rove’s office but by several top officials elsewhere in the White House.

The prospect that such communication might become public has further jangled the nerves of an already rattled Bush White House.

Three U.S. attorney managers quit in protest

By PATRICK CONDON

Three lawyers in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Minneapolis resigned their management posts, moves that gained national attention against the backdrop of claims top federal prosecutors elsewhere were fired for political reasons.

U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose confirmed Friday that John Marti, a first assistant U.S. attorney, Erika Mozangue, head of the office’s civil division, and James Lackner, who heads the office’s criminal division, have decided to “go back to the line to be full-time prosecutors.”

She did not say why the three stepped down and indicated that she would have no further public comment. “We have work to do,” her statement said.

John Kelly, deputy director of the Justice Department’s executive office of U.S. Attorneys, visited Minneapolis on Thursday to try to resolve the situation, according to two aides in Washington who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. The prosecutors stepped down after Kelly’s visit.

The Justice aides said it is not uncommon for the office, which oversees all 94 U.S. attorneys’ districts nationwide, to make such visits to handle personnel issues.

Paulose, 34, replaced former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger after he resigned in early 2006. Before her appointment, she had served as senior counsel to U.S. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty and special assistant to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

The three resignations come as Congress investigates the U.S. Justice Department’s firing of eight U.S. attorneys last year and whether the moves were politically motivated. Its findings so far have torpedoed morale at Justice Department headquarters in Washington and in U.S. attorneys’ offices nationwide.

Democrats and some Republicans have called on Gonzales to resign for the botched way the firings were handled and described to Congress. On Friday, a top aide to Gonzales, Monica M. Goodling, abrubtly quit, and said she would not testify about her role in the firings of federal prosecutors.

New York Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat and harsh critic of Gonzales, said the moves in Minnesota were an example of federal prosecutors being “deprofessionalized.”

“We wonder in how many other offices the same lack of confidence is taking its toll,” Schumer said.

Heffelfinger was not among the eight fired U.S. attorneys and has said he left of his own accord. However, Paulose was one of 15 federal prosecutors appointed after Congress changed the USA Patriot Act to let the Justice Department fill vacant U.S. attorney jobs without judicial review. She was confirmed by the Senate in December 2006.

In a statement Friday, Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse described Paulose as “dedicated to leading an effective U.S. Attorney’s office in Minnesota and enforcing the laws to ensure public safety.”

“Three managers have determined to go back to the line to be full-time prosecutors protecting the community they serve and the department respects their decisions,” Roehrkasse said. “We are confident during this transition period that the U.S. Attorney’s office will remain focused on its law enforcement priorities.”

Marti, Mozangue and Lackner did not immediately return phone messages Friday.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press, citing sources it said did not want to be identified discussing staffing changes, reported that the three were unhappy with Paulose’s management style.

Tim Anderson, a non-attorney who had been acting office administrator, also left his management role, the Minneapolis office confirmed. He declined to comment to the AP on Friday.

___

Associated Press writer Lara Jakes Jordan in Washington contributed to this report.

Top Gonzales aide resigns

By LARA JAKES JORDAN

040709gonzalessm.jpgA top aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (right) abruptly quit Friday, almost two weeks after telling Congress she would not testify about her role in the firings of federal prosecutors.

There was no immediate reason given, but Monica M. Goodling’s refusal to face Congress had intensified a controversy that threatens Gonzales’ job.

She resigned in a three-sentence letter to Gonzales, calling her five-year stint at Justice an honor and telling him, “May God bless you richly as you continue your service to America.”

Asserting her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, Goodling had rejected demands for a private interview with a House committee investigating the firings of eight U.S. attorneys.

She was senior counsel to Gonzales and was the department’s White House liaison before she took a leave amid the uproar over the ousters.

The Justice Department declined comment on the resignation.

Goodling is at the center of the controversy because, as the bridge between the Justice Department and the White House, she may be best suited to explain how deeply Karl Rove and other members of President Bush’s political team might have been involved in the firings. Congress also wants her to testify on Gonzales’ role in light of his shifting explanations.

Her resignation came less than two weeks before Gonzales’ own planned testimony to Congress, which may determine his fate as attorney general. Several Republican lawmakers have joined Democrats in calling for his resignation or dismissal over the firings and other matters at Justice.

Goodling’s attorney, John Dowd, confirmed she had resigned but declined further comment.

Her resignation is the third by a Justice Department official who helped plan and coordinate the dismissals of the prosecutors, an effort that began shortly after President Bush won re-election in 2004.

Gonzales’ chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, resigned under fire March 12 for orchestrating the firings.

Additionally, Mike Battle, the former director of the department’s executive office of U.S. attorneys, announced several weeks ago that he was leaving to join a private law firm. Battle’s resignation has not been linked directly to the controversy, although he helped notify some of the U.S. attorneys that they would be asked to leave.

“While Monica Goodling had no choice but to resign, this is the third Justice Department official involved in the U.S attorney firings who has stepped down,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., who was among the first senators to question the firings and the first to call for Gonzales’ resignation.

“Attorney General Gonzales’ hold on the department gets more tenuous each day,” Schumer said in a statement.

Gonzales is also under fire for the FBI’s improper and in some cases illegal prying into Americans’ personal information during terror and spy probes.

Goodling’s lawyers have asked Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, not to compel her to appear at a public hearing knowing of her intention to invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions.

Her lawyers have said such a hearing would be a perjury trap for her. They note allegations that Goodling misled Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty before he testified to Congress about the ousters, causing him to give an incomplete and possibly inaccurate account.

Goodling’s mother, Cindy Fitt of Osceola Mills, Pa., said the resignation had been anticipated. “She told me I’m to say ‘no comment’ for everything,” the mother said in a brief telephone interview.

___

Associated Press writers Ron Fournier in Washington and Mark Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pa., contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

Cheney attacks Pelosi over Syria trip

By SUSAN CORNWELL

Vice President Dick Cheney accused U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday of "bad behavior" on her Middle East trip, saying she bungled a message for Syria’s president that was later clarified by Israel.

Cheney harshly criticized Pelosi’s visit to Syria this week and declared in an interview, "The president is the one who conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House."

Pelosi’s Syrian stopover was opposed from the start by the Bush administration, which accuses Damascus of sponsoring terrorism and says it should be isolated from the international community.

While in Damascus on Wednesday, Pelosi announced she had told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that Israel was prepared to negotiate with Syria. That prompted Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office to underline the Jewish state’s preconditions for such talks — including that Syria abandon its "support for terrorist groups."

Cheney, pointing to the Israeli reaction, said it was obvious Olmert had not authorized the message Pelosi delivered.

"It was a non-statement, nonsensical statement and didn’t make any sense at all that she would suggest that those talks could go forward as long as the Syrians conducted themselves as a prime state sponsor of terror," the vice president said on the Rush Limbaugh radio show.

"I think it is, in fact bad behavior on her part. I wish she hadn’t done it," Cheney said. "Fortunately I think the various parties involved recognize she doesn’t speak for the United States in those circumstances, she doesn’t represent the administration."

Pelosi, the top House Democrat and next in line to the U.S. presidency after Cheney, is the most senior U.S. official to visit Syria in more than two years.

Pelosi’s spokesman, Brendan Daly, asked to respond to Cheney’s criticism, said the speaker accurately relayed the message from Olmert to Assad.

"The tough and serious message the speaker relayed was that, in order for Israel to engage in talks with Syria, the Syrian government must eliminate its links with extremist elements, including Hamas and Hezbollah," Daly said, referring to the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which Israel fought in a war last year.

Pelosi’s decision to defy the White House and meet Assad stepped up a tug of war between the Democratic-led Congress and Republican President George W. Bush over foreign policy.

The two sides are already doing battle over Iraq policy, with Democrats trying to force Bush to accept a date for withdrawing U.S. troops.

Pelosi was also slammed on Thursday by a Washington Post editorial that was headlined "Pratfall in Damascus" and called her Middle East shuttle diplomacy "foolish."

Copyright © 2007 Reuters Limited

Bush admits Hurricane Katrina flubs

By BEN FELLER

President Bush on Thursday acknowledged the deep frustration of Hurricane Katrina victims and said the federal government shares the blame for the slow recovery of the Gulf Coast.

He gave residents of the battered region a message: “The federal government still knows you exist.”

In stops across coastal Mississippi and Louisiana, Bush defended the federal allotment of $110 billion in relief aid. Of that total, less than half has been spent.

“If it is stuck because of unnecessary bureaucracy, our responsibility at the federal, state and local level is to unstick it,” Bush said at Samuel J. Green Charter School, which recovered from flooding.

In his first visit to the region in six months, Bush sought to fight the perception that those whose lives were devastated by the August 2005 storm had fallen off his agenda.

The Bush administration’s initial response to the most destructive natural disaster in U.S. history was widely seen as a failure.

And the president is still dogged by criticism. Democratic lawmakers are pushing for more action.

“I committed to the people of this part of the world and the Gulf Coast that the federal government would fund recovery — and stay committed to the recovery,” Bush said during his 14th trip to the region. It was his first visit since the one-year anniversary of the storm.

Much of New Orleans outside the tourist areas remains in shambles. Violent crime has soared and health care is limited. Many residents are thinking of getting out for good.

On the outskirts of the French Quarter, Bush had lunch at Li’l Dizzy’s Cafe with Louisiana officials. Sitting next to him was New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who has been outspoken in demanding a better federal response. Bush later lauded Nagin as a strong-willed leader.

Exasperated officials from the region said it was telling that Katrina did not get a mention in Bush’s State of the Union speech in January.

“If you don’t get New Orleans straight, the United States will never be the same,” said Wayne Baquet, who owns the cafe where Bush ate. It was flooded and looted during Katrina.

Baquet said he worried the nation no longer was paying attention to New Orleans. “Everybody ought to be on the bandwagon trying to get New Orleans back,” he said. “Everybody.”

In Washington, some Democrats criticized Bush for not intervening more often.

“Long-term recovery for the Gulf Coast requires a whole lot more than 18 months of empty promises,” said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee. “Businesses that were once the heart of the Gulf Coast economy are now hanging on by a thread.”

Kerry said legislation offering tax breaks to encourage businesses to build or expand in areas hit by hurricane was a good first step. But, he said, the government’s disaster loan program needs to be overhauled, fixing problems that have prevented businesses from getting timely financial assistance.

At the charter school, Bush delighted math and science students by popping into their classes. They didn’t mind the interruption and raced to his side for group photos.

Bush began his trip in Mississippi by touring five homes in a Long Beach neighborhood. He gave an American flag to Ernie and Cheryl Woodward, who rebuilt their home with the help of a federal grant.

“People’s lives are improving, and there is hope,” he said.

Bush got a friendly reception as he walked from house to house in the southern Mississippi neighborhood.

“Staying busy?” he asked a construction crew. One of the workers told him the crew was still working on the same block of the neighborhood a year and a half after the storm.

The federal official overseeing recovery efforts said Katrina’s damage was so vast that it was hard to estimate when the recovery will be completed. Of $110 billion in relief aid that Congress has approved, $86 billion has been committed to projects, and $53 billion has been spent.

“We all have a sense of urgency,” Don Powell, Bush’s coordinator for the Gulf Coast recovery, told reporters on Air Force One.

“But I think it’s important to put it in perspective about the size of the storm, and how overwhelming this storm was,” Powell said. “I think there’s been some good progress.”

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

Cheney warns against early Iraq pullout

By TOM RAUM

A quick withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq could allow victorious Muslim extremists to fan out into other countries, with some militants going to Afghanistan to fight alongside a resurgent Taliban, Vice President Dick Cheney says.

The vice president, just back from a trip that included unannounced stops in Afghanistan and Pakistan, addressed a conservative conference Thursday night where he sharply criticized efforts by some Democrats to restrict funds for President Bush’s troop buildup in Iraq or to place restrictions on their deployment.

While noting that the House already had passed a nonbinding resolution voicing opposition to Bush’s Iraq policy, Cheney said that “very soon both houses of Congress will have to vote on a piece of legislation that is binding.”

The legislation would, among other things, help pay for the additional 21,500 troops Bush is sending to Iraq.

“I sincerely hope the discussion this time will be about winning in Iraq, not about posturing on Capitol Hill. Anyone can say they support the troops, and we should take them at their word. But the proof will come when it’s time to provide the money and the support,” Cheney said. “We expect the House and the Senate to meet those needs on time and in full.”

The vice president spoke at an annual dinner of the Conservative Political Action Conference. The audience included conservative activists, leaders and policymakers.

Earlier on Thursday, Democratic officials said House Democratic leaders had coalesced around legislation that would require troops to come home from Iraq within six months if that country’s leaders fail to meet promises to help reduce violence there.

The plan would retain a Democratic proposal prohibiting the deployment to Iraq of troops with insufficient rest or training or who already have served there for more than a year. Under the plan, such troops could only be sent to Iraq if Bush waives those standards and reports to Congress each time.

The proposal is the latest attempt by Democrats to resolve deep divisions within the party on how far to go to scale back U.S. involvement in Iraq. Rep. James Moran said the latest version has the support of party leadership and said he believes it is final and has the best chance at attracting broad support.

“We’re going to report out” a war spending bill “that’s responsive to the will of the voters last November and brings our troops home as soon and safely as possible,” Moran, D-Va., said in an interview.

During his visit to Pakistan, Cheney expressed concern to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf over al-Qaida’s regrouping inside Pakistan’s tribal regions and an expected Taliban spring offensive in neighboring Afghanistan.

“If our coalition withdrew before Iraqis could defend themselves, radical factions would battle for dominance. The violence would likely spread throughout the country and be very difficult to contain. Having tasted victory in Iraq, the (militants) would look for new missions. Many would head for Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban,” Cheney said.

He said others would head for capitals across the Middle East and work to undermine moderate governments. “Still others would find their targets and victims in other countries on other continents. Such chaos and mounting danger does not have to occur. It is, however, the enemy’s objective,” Cheney said.

“In these circumstances, it’s worth reminding ourselves that, like it or not, the enemy we face in the war on terror has made Iraq the primary front in that war,” he added. Then, to laughter and applause, Cheney said, “To use a popular phrase, this is an inconvenient truth.”

It was a play on the Academy Award-winning environmental documentary featuring former Vice President Al Gore, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“If you support the war on terror, then it only makes sense to support it where the terrorists are fighting us,” Cheney said.

___

Associated Press writer Ann Flaherty contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press