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The Bush Convention

That'll Show 'Em

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Daniel Dombey writes in the Financial Times: "The Bush administration is set to put a high-profile nuclear deal with Russia on hold, according to US diplomats.

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"Officials expect Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, to recommend that George W. Bush, president, recall the civil nuclear co-operation agreement from Congress in the wake of Russia's conflict with Georgia. . . .

"The move to put the nuclear agreement on ice would darken prospects for bilateral co-operation between the two countries in the area of nuclear safety."

Karl Rove Watch

Wayne Slater blogged for the Dallas Morning News on Saturday: "Karl Rove weighed in this morning on Democratic vice presidential pick Joe Biden, saying his long experience in the Senate only reminds voters that Barack Obama doesn't have much. It was classic Rove: Attack an opponent's strength, make it a weakness.

"But Karl found himself in deep water when a FoxNews interviewer asked: Wasn't Dick Cheney picked to be George W. Bush's veep to balance the Texas governor's lack of experience? Did Cheney boost the ticket or just remind people of Bush's inexperience? Totally different, said Rove. Totally different."

Supboena Talks?

Joe Palazzolo blogged for Legal Times on Friday: "Last month, Judge John Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that President George W. Bush's top aides are not immune from congressional subpoenas. Bates said that Bush's former legal counsel, Harriet Miers, must appear before Congress to give testimony related to the U.S. attorney firings. If she wants to assert executive privilege, she must do so in person, Bates ruled.

"The Bush administration has asked Bates to stay his decision pending an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The House has demanded that the White House comply with the ruling immediately.

"Today, Justice Department lawyers told Bates that 'the parties have recommenced discussions to determine whether a negotiated resolution may obviate the need for continued litigation.' The parties have met twice since Bates' July 31 ruling, the report says."

The CIA and Suskind

Joby Warrick writes in The Washington Post: "The controversy over a best-selling author's account of forgery and deception in the White House deepened yesterday with a new CIA denial that it helped the Bush administration produce phony documents suggesting past links between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

"Author Ron Suskind's book 'The Way of the World,' released earlier this month, contends that the White House learned in early 2003 that the Iraqi president no longer possessed weapons of mass destruction but went to war regardless. Suskind wrote that the information was passed to British and U.S. intelligence officials in secret meetings with Tahir Habbush, Iraq's spy chief at the time.

"Moreover, in an allegation that implies potentially criminal acts by administration officials, the author wrote that White House officials ordered a forgery to influence public opinion about the war. The book contends that the CIA paid Habbush $5 million and resettled him in Jordan after the war. Then, it says, in late 2003, the White House ordered the CIA to enlist Habbush's help in concocting a fake letter that purported to show that Iraq helped train Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian-born al-Qaeda terrorist who led the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Such a letter surfaced in Iraq in December 2003, but its authenticity quickly came into question.

"The CIA and White House denied Suskind's account when the book was first released. But yesterday, the CIA issued a more extensive rebuttal based on what the agency called an internal investigation involving a records search and interviews with junior and senior officers who were directly involved in the agency's Iraq operations at the time. As for the claim that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a letter, the agency said: 'It did not happen.' . . .

"Suskind, whose claims are now the subject of two congressional investigations, yesterday continued to stand by his book and accused the CIA and White House of orchestrating a smear campaign. 'It's the same old stuff,' said Suskind, who said his findings are supported by hours of interviews, some of them taped. 'There's not a shred of doubt about any of it.'"

Bush Legacy Watch

Richard B. Schmitt writes in the Los Angeles Times: "Banks and brokerages have written down more than $300 billion of mortgage-backed securities and other risky investments in the last year or so as homeowner defaults leaped and weakness in the real estate market spread.

"In California alone, lenders have foreclosed on $100 billion worth of homes over the last two years and are foreclosing at a rate of 1,300 houses every business day, according to a recent report from ForeclosureRadar.com.

"Most observers have declared the mess a gross failure of regulation. To be sure, in the run-up to the crisis, market-oriented federal regulators bragged about their hands-off treatment of banks and other savings institutions and their executives. But it wasn't just regulators who were looking the other way. The FBI and its parent agency, the Justice Department, are supposed to act as the cops on the beat for potentially illegal activities by bankers and others. But they were focused on national security and other priorities, and paid scant attention to white-collar crimes that may have contributed to the lending and securities debacle."

Despite the ramp-up in national security and terrorism investigations, Schmitt notes that the administration was nevertheless able to "put more support behind efforts against illegal immigration and child pornography."

Hiring Watch

Charlie Savage writes in the New York Times: "Immigrants seeking asylum in the United States have been disproportionately rejected by judges whom the Bush administration chose using a conservative political litmus test, according to an analysis of Justice Department data.

"The analysis suggests that the effects of a patronage-style selection process for immigration judges -- used for three years before it was abandoned as illegal -- are still being felt by scores of immigrants whose fates are determined by the judges installed in that period. . . .

"Critics of the politicization of the immigration bench say it is not enough that in 2007 the department stopped using illegal hiring procedures. The fact that many of the politically selected judges remain in power, they say, continues to undermine the perceived fairness of hearings for immigrants fighting deportation."

Bush's Marbles

Wendi C. Thomas writes for the Rocky Mountain News about Rick Clay, a vendor at the Democratic convention: "For $5, you could... buy a mailing envelope addressed to President Bush that contains a few of the marbles Clay says Bush is missing.

"'Be a part of history; for never before has one man lost so many marbles and been so in need of collective help to recover them,' reads Clay's press release."

Cartoon Watch

Stuart Carlson on Bush's gold medal for lack of self-awareness, Jim Morin with a Karl Rove sighting, and Steve Greenberg on Bush Light.

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