FROM Mark Benjamin
Obama Meets Maliki in Iraq, Discusses Troop Withdrawal The New York Times reports that an audiotape shows Maliki said this to Der Spiegel , the German magazine: "Obama's remarks that, if he takes office, in 16 months he would withdraw the forces, we think that this period could increase or decrease a little, but that it could be suitable to end the presence of forces in Iraq." When the Bush Administration asked for "clarification," Maliki's office said that's not what he really meant. Today, after his visit to Afghanistan, Obama traveled to Iraq, where he met today with the Prime Minister.
How Long Will the US Stay in Iraq? American forces are in Iraq under a United Nations mandate that runs out at the end of this year. Barack Obama wants to withdraw American forces within 16 months after taking office. John McCain says that would be trading victory for defeat. Now US Senators of both parties claim the Bush Administration is negotiating agreements with Iraqi officials that could tie the next president's hands. While the Bush White House says it's all "technical" and non-binding, it's highly controversial in Iraq. Is the US trying to establish permanent bases without the consent of Congress? What would that mean for Iraqi sovereignty, Iran and US allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia? How would it influence the presidential campaign?
The Shabby Treatment of Wounded Soldiers President Bush is appointing a commission to investigate the quality of care at Veterans' Administration hospitals. It will be chaired by former Republican Senator Bob Dole and Donna Shalala, Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton Administration. The shabby treatment of combat veterans at Walter Reed Hospital has been called the "tip of the iceberg" by several Congressmen. Yesterday, both military and civilian officials told a Congressional committee they were surprised at recent reports of shoddy treatment of outpatients at the Army's flagship hospital. Did military and civilian officials ignore early reports? What about other Veterans' Administration facilities? We speak with journalists, doctors and public-policy experts.
Secretary Rice Plays Supporting Role in Iraq Study Group President Bush says he'll consider any suggestions made by the Iraq Study Group , led by James Baker , Secretary of State for the current president's father. There have been reports that Baker was sent in to clean up the mess in Iraq, but the White House firmly denies that. Now, the online magazine Salon.com says the impetus for the Iraq Study Group came from a surprising source, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Getting answers on phone taps, Russia and leaking The Directors of the FBI and the NSA testified on Capitol Hill today there's no evidence for President Trump's claim he was wire-tapped by former President Obama. We'll hear about that and the investigation into Russian tampering with last year's presidential campaign.
Nationalism's appeal on both sides of the Atlantic Nationalism, Populism, concerns about immigration and outright racism are part of election campaigns from the US to Europe. We hear how today's election in Holland reflects the recent past and may forecast the future.
Political appointments and the reshaping of the judiciary President Trump has the chance for a long-term impact -- not just on the US Supreme Court, but on the entire federal court system. And his nominees are likely to get the support of a massive spending campaign by donors who don't have to reveal their names. Can President Trump "pack" the federal court system?