With the “last pillars of political support among Senate Republicans for President Bush’s Iraq strategy…collapsing,” debate within the White House “is intensifying over whether Mr. Bush should try to prevent more defections by announcing his intention to begin a gradual withdrawal of American troops from the high-casualty neighborhoods of Baghdad and other cities.”
The Washington Post reports “the Iraqi government is unlikely to meet any of the political and security goals or timelines President Bush set for it in January when he announced a major shift in U.S. policy.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates today canceled a visit to Latin America so he can participate in policy meetings in advance of a report to Congress July 15 on the results of the escalation.
A New York Times source says the massive bombing in Amerli, Iraq, this weekend killed 155 people, making it now “the worst single bombing in the war (the March bombing in Tal Afar killed 152).” In Amerli, “almost everyone seemed to have lost relatives or friends, if not entire families.”
Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff reports that Bush’s decision to commute Libby’s sentence was done in part to avoid “a fracture with the vice president.” Also, Bush reportedly instructed his counsel Fred Fielding to see “if there was compelling evidence that might contradict the jury’s verdict that Libby had lied to a federal grand jury.”
“Attacks on supply convoys protected by private security companies in Iraq have more than tripled as the U.S. government depends more on armed civilian guards to secure reconstruction and other missions.”
“Crews stayed on the offensive against major blazes around California and other Western states” this weekend, as Utah experienced its “largest-ever wildfire, at 283,000 acres,” and “ferocious” fires “scorched parts of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana and Oregon.”
“The Bush administration has failed to fill roughly a quarter of the top leadership posts at the Department of Homeland Security, creating a ‘gaping hole’ in the nation’s preparedness for a terrorist attack or other threat, according to a congressional report to be released today.”
In an op-ed entitled “Spineless on Sudan,” Nicholas Kristof writes Bush has “turned away” from Darfur. “For years, Mr. Bush’s aides have discussed whether he should give a prime-time speech on Darfur to ratchet up the pressure; he still hasn’t. Laura Bush just completed a four-nation swing through Africa, but she didn’t include a visit to any of the areas affected by the Darfur crisis.”
This weekend’s Live Earth concerts broke a record “for an online entertainment show by generating more than nine million internet streams, Microsoft web portal MSN said.”
And finally: The new White House briefing room will reopen on July 15. The refurbished quarters “will have 49 leather chairs (which, incidentally, are slightly wider than the old ones). Asbestos has been removed, and presumably, so have the rodents that once prowled in the shadows.”
What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section.