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Daily Column
US Papers Tuesday: Bush Speech Tomorrow
USAT Poll: Allies Express Fears; Worst Case, Regional War
By SETH SMITH 01/09/2007 01:22 AM ET
The story that dominates the Tuesday news cycle is the official announcement of President Bush's new plan for Iraq, to be unveiled Wednesday at 9 pm EST. In the NYT, Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes about the Bush administration's planned public relations blitz in rolling out its new Iraq plan. The article makes it clear that the administration faces a tough sell, from both a newly energized Congress and the angry public that propelled them into power. The WP's Michael Abramowitz has the best details on the actual plan to be presented, including a determination by U.S. commanders (and their Iraqi partners) to confront the Mehdi Army loyal to Moqtada Al Sadr, but without necessarily conducting operations in Sadr City, the militia's Baghdad base of operations. Abramowitz is careful to note that while the plan is for Iraqi units to take the lead, past precedent has demonstrated that this is rarely the case. The article also has several reactions from Republican Senators briefed on the plan at the White House on Monday. David Jackson's story in USA Today draws mainly on Tony Snow's Monday press conference announcing the speech. The article also runs down the well-known positions staked out by Congressional democrats to the new plan's expected contents.

USA Today has a package of stories based on a poll taken on U.S. attitudes toward Iraq and other issues currently facing the country. Only 36 percent of respondents approve of sending more U.S. troops to Iraq, expected to be the centerpiece of President Bush's new strategy in Iraq, to be announced Wednesday at 9 pm EST. Nearly three-quarters said that Bush does not have a clear plan for success in Iraq. The country has also emerged as the most important issue to be dealt with by political leaders, after years in which Iraq and terrorism shared top billing.

In the WSJ, Neal King Jr. and Greg Jaffe offer a well-reported outline of the worst-case scenario of regional war if the U.S. president's most recent plan for Iraq fails. In order to preclude such a scenario's taking place, the U.S. is strengthening already strong military ties with Persian Gulf allies, and is considering sending a second carrier group into the Gulf. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations are also preparing their own defenses.


John Burns chronicles the bone-chilling audio tapes believed to be Saddam Hussein in which the executed dictator describes the effects of a gas attack on civilian populations. The tapes were played in an Iraqi court as part of the trial of Iraqi officials for crimes committed against Kurds in Anfal.

Jeff Zeleny reports disarray in the Democratic caucus over how to proceed on Iraq. Senator Ted Kennedy plans to introduce legislation Tuesday that would require new authorization for any troop increase. Others, mindful of their future electoral approach, are urging an approach that cannot be construed as undermining U.S. troops.

An unsigned editorial urges President Bush to tell the truth about Iraq, and level with the public about past strategic blunders.


Joshua Partlow writes a new chapter in the story of Aiham Al Samarraie, the U.S. citizen-turned-Iraqi electricity minister-turned-prisoner-turned-escapee. Al Samarriaie's most recent plans, announced during a press conference in the United Arab Emirates, include a return to the U.S., despite being a wanted man in Iraq. The article also includes a rundown of violence on Sunday and Monday.

Tamara Jones tells the story of L'Angel Hardgrove and her husband Mike as he prepares to deploy to Iraq. The story of the couple's final days together and his ultimate departure serves as an important reminder of the lives disrupted by the war, and the stoicism of those that serve and their loved ones.

Columnist Sally Quinn has an emotional column urging President Bush not to send more troops to Iraq. Quinn's column's strength comes from her reckoning of the war in terms of personal suffering and anguish.


See above.


Yochi Dreazen profiles J.D. Crouch, a mid-level aide that has had an outsized influence on the expected increase in troops. Despite confirming him as assistant secretary of defense in 2001, some Democrats decry Crouch as an ideologue.

David Rogers outlines Representative John Murtha's plans to challenge President Bush's expected troop increase.Murtha plans to hold hearings to determine whether the proposed increase will stretch the military too thin, leaving the force too weak to handle other challenges.


Patrik Johnson reports from Hinesville, GA on U.S. troops from the Third Infantry Division as they ready for their third tour of duty in Iraq. The article is especially important in noting the physical and mental stresses attendant to long deployments overseas.


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