An insider's guide to the upcoming week

Monday, March 17, 2008

Five Years Later

Wednesday marks the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and President Bush will begin the day by speaking at the Pentagon about the global fight against terrorism.

Others will acknowledge the occasion quite differently: United for Peace and Justice and other antiwar groups have organized a day of events around the Washington area on Wednesday called "5 Years Too Many," including blockades of the IRS and action on K Street NW to "shut down the war profiteers," and a waterboarding demonstration outside the White House.

Code Pink has scheduled an assembly tomorrow at the National Archives, with former New York congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman urging Americans to "take back the Constitution."

The entire week, in fact, is crowded with events in Washington, with calls for impeachment, efforts to expose a connection between oil and war, and, for good measure, a "knit-in" by the Granny Peace Brigade.

Irish Eyes Are Smiling: St. Patrick's Day, according to President Bush, unites "those who are of Irish descent and those who wish they were." He welcomed Irish Prime Minister, or Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern to the White House last year with those words, and the two men will come together again today for the traditional Shamrock Ceremony, the handing-over and photographing of a bowl of shamrocks.

They will also join House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is hosting, in grand Tip O'Neill tradition, a St. Patrick's Day luncheon. Other members of Congress who haven't left town for their spring recess will join the festivities, as will Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who will provide some of the entertainment. As he did last year, the dulcet-toned O'Malley is set to serenade the crowd with a cappella renditions of the U.S. and Irish national anthems.

Spring Break Visitors: Ahern is one of at least five foreign leaders coming to the White House this week to call on Bush. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, a key U.S. ally on the Iraq war, coincidentally is scheduled to arrive during the height of the war protests on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Saakashvili, who came to power during the 2003 Rose Revolution that ushered Eduard Shevardnadze out of office, won reelection this January. This is his second trip to Washington. The White House announced that the two presidents are expected to discuss democratic reforms in Georgia, energy security and "common efforts to advance freedom and security around the world."

Bush also has a joint meeting Thursday with Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert A. Ingraham, Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson and Belize Prime Minister Dean Barrow.

Big Guns: Tomorrow, the District government will make its case to the Supreme Court that its 1976 ban on handguns is constitutional and that an appeals court ruling last March was wrong. The case, District of Columbia v. Heller, may be the most consequential Second Amendment matter considered by the justices in decades. Accordingly, audio of the oral arguments will be released on an "expedited basis" immediately following the session, the court announced this month.

The District's advocate, former acting U.S. solicitor general Walter Dellinger, will speak on the case tomorrow evening as part of an American Constitution Society panel. He will join legal colleagues who have filed some of the 70 friend-of-the-court briefs in the case to discuss D.C. v. Heller and key issues in the District's argument.

By Rachel Dry

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