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FROM THIS EPISODE

Despite other differences, President Bush and his critics agree that t Iraqi violence will end only when there is national reconciliation. Is the Iraqi government meeting benchmarks designed to give Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds a stake in peace and stability?  Should the US threaten to cut off support until more progress is made?  Also, the President wants to create a new 'war czar' position, but nobody seems to want the job and, on Reporter's Notebook, all charges are about to be dropped.  What's next for the Duke lacrosse players publicly accused of sexual assault? 

Producers:
Vanessa Romo
Christian Bordal
Frances Anderton

Main Topic Is It Time to Increase the Pressure on the Iraqi Government? 34 MIN, 18 SEC

President Bush and Democrats in the Congress are deadlocked over setting withdrawal deadlines for the funding of US troops in Iraq. In the meantime, both sides agree with military leaders that continuing violence won't end until there is political reconciliation among Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. To that end, Iraq's Prime Minister has agreed to meet certain "benchmarks." Amending the constitution, holding local elections and regulating oil revenues are supposed to give all sides a real stake in peace and stability. The Bush Administration says US forces are needed before political deals can be made, but critics contend the American presence is an excuse for delay. Are the Iraqis meeting the benchmarks? Should the US threaten to cut off support until more progress is made?

Guests:
Leon Panetta, former Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton
Laith Kubba, Spokesman, former Iraqi Prime Minister al-Jaafari
Brian Katulis, Center for America Progress (@Katulis)

Making News White House Turned Down by Three 'War Czar' Candidates 5 MIN, 55 SEC

A spokesman for the President's National Security Council has confirmed that the White House wants to create a "czar" to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but, so far, nobody wants the job.  That's according to today's Washington Post in an article co-authored by Peter Baker.

Guests:
Peter Baker, New York Times (@peterbakernyt)

Reporter's Notebook Duke Rape Case Dropped 8 MIN, 12 SEC

A sensational case that got international news coverage is about to come to an end. All charges are to be dropped against three Duke lacrosse players accused of assaulting a stripper at a team party last year. The Raleigh District Attorney who charged them faces possible disbarment and the North Carolina Attorney General who took over the case plans to drop all charges. The original accuser told wildly different versions of what happened and another dancer at the party contradicted her story. The case may be over, but the consequences may go on for a long time, as we hear from criminal defense attorney Jonna Spilbor, who has been writing about the case in Findlaw.com.

Guests:
Jonna Spilbor, Criminal defense attorney

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