NBC newsman Tim Russert testified yesterday that it was “impossible” that he told Libby about Valerie Plame because he did not know about the CIA agent at the time of his conversation with Libby. He added that Libby had called to complain about NBC’s coverage of the Plame affair: “What the hell is going on with ‘Hardball’?” Russert quoted Libby as having asked him.
U.S. military officials reported that a helicopter operated by a private security firm came down in Iraq last week, marking the sixth downing of a helicopter in three weeks. “American officials say the streak strongly suggests that insurgents have adapted their tactics and are now putting more effort into shooting down the aircraft.”
Many State Department employees “have outright refused repeated requests that they go to Iraq, while others have demanded that they be assigned only to Baghdad and not be sent outside the more secure Green Zone.” The employees who do sign up for Iraq duty have “tended to be younger, more entry-level types, and not experienced, seasoned diplomats.”
The bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom yesterday warned “that the Bush administration, in its zeal to secure the nation’s borders and stem the tide of illegal immigrants, may be leaving asylum seekers vulnerable to deportation and harsh treatment.”
President Bush has proposed a significant jump in funding — 31 percent — “for an anti-drug advertising campaign that government-funded research shows is at best useless and at worst has increased drug use among some teens.” The program is Rep. Dennis Hastert’s (R-IL) “baby,” said Bill Piper, national affairs director for the Drug Policy Alliance.
“President Bush’s proposed war budget includes many high-cost weapons that won’t be operational for years, using a funding request aimed at supporting the troops to seek money for some of the Pentagon’s favorite projects.”
Seven Senate conservatives, five of whom voted to protect President Bush and block debate on Iraq earlier this week, “changed course yesterday and vowed to use every tactic at their disposal to ensure a full and open debate” on Iraq. “The current stalemate is unacceptable to us and to the people of this country,” they wrote in a letter to Senate leaders.
Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA), under federal investigation over several land sales he made, lashed out at media publications who he claimed “have an agenda” in pursuing the story. Miller is accused of having lied about a land deal and sheltering $10 million in profits from capital gains taxes. Ex-aides have alleged that he abused his power.
And finally: Kennedy and Boehner knock ’em dead at Congressional Correspondents Dinner. “Kennedy said he recently visited Boehner when he was on the House side and noticed that the Ohio legislator was working on a jigsaw puzzle. Six months later, Kennedy stopped by Boehner’s office again — and Boehner was still working on putting the puzzle together. ‘John, that’s a long time to be working on a puzzle,’ Kennedy said. ‘No, it’s not,’ Boehner supposedly replied. ‘Right here on the side of the box it says three to five years.’” Ba-Dum-Bum.
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