Iranian Nukes? Hey, What's the Rush?
The main lesson that the Senate Intelligence Committee drew from the run-up to the Iraq war was that Washington needs intense scrutiny of intelligence on weapons of mass destruction. So with all the buzz about nukes in Iran, it would be safe to assume that the committee is deep into an inquiry, right? Well, not quite. Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, the committee chair, warns that "we have not made the progress on our oversight of Iran intelligence, which is critical." The panel has done only piecemeal scrutiny of the spy agencies' work on Iran. "There is no organized commitÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂtee staff effort to look at Iran right now," says majority staff director Bill Duhnke. "It's all sort of on hold." Roberts blames it on Democrats who are "more focused on intelligence failures of the past." Committee staffers who would conduct the Iran inquiry are instead tied up with the long-awaited second phase of the panel's review of prewar intelligence on Iraq (which covers how the Bush administration used the intelligence). Democrats say Roberts is stalling on Phase 2. "If the committee has not conducted a review of Iran intelligence, it's not because of a lack of resources," says Wendy Morigi, spokeswoman for Sen. Jay Rockefeller, the committee's ranking Democrat. Roberts says he is pushing hard to complete the Iraq inquiry, which could take several more months. Then, the committee can focus more on Iran. Perhaps Tehran will be kind enough to wait for them.
White House Looks to the Softer Side
Expect the first lady to ratchet up her visibility in the coming months. It's part of the White House effort to boost President Bush's sagging approval ratings by capitalizing on L aura Bush's popularity, which far exceeds her husband's, and also to raise money for Republican moderates in areas where the president isn't very welcome. "She's a real asset," says a Bush adviser, because she is associated with noncontroversial programs like promoting literacy and compassionate projects like helping to reduce HIV/AIDS in Africa.
Fighting Insurgents, One Essay at a Time
Psst. Wanna save the world? The latest front in the Pentagon's struggle against terrorism is . . . a writing competition. "The Army absolutely needs to understand more about counterinsurgency," began the published request for submissions to the "Countering Insurgency" contest. "Nothing less than the future of the civilized world might depend on it." Col. Bill Darley, editor in chief of Military Review-which will publish the winning submissions-says that entries for the contest have been "fresh and innovative." The first-place winner gets $1,000. Sorry, entries were due by April 1.
One Potato That Is Really Hot
Bush's proposals are encountering more trouble in Congress these days, but this one is downright radioactive. Earlier this month, his Energy Department sent Congress a bill to expand storage at the long-delayed nuclear waste dump inside Nevada's Yucca Mountain and spark investment in nuclear energy. Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada quickly called the bill dead on arrival-and he appears to have successfully scared off even traditional nuclear boosters like fellow Democrat Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico. "Even Democrats who are generally supportive of Yucca Mountain . . . are not interested in annoying him," says a top Democratic aide. Energy prices might be spiking, but don't expect any action in this election year.