Bird Hunting With Cheney? Not This Juror

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In our nation's capital, it seems jury selection for the Scooter Libby trial is becoming quite a pain in the keister, reports the Washington Post. Why? Because this is the most incestuous city on earth.

As such, "so far nearly every juror candidate seems to have a connection to the players or events surrounding the leak of an undercover CIA officer's identity."

Condi lives in the same building where one potential juror cleans apartments. Someone else went to barbeques at Tim Russert's house. Then there are those with more philosophical biases, like the HHS employee who "said she could be impartial about the administration but acknowledged she was 'not particularly impressed' by how [Vice President Dick] Cheney has handled certain events."

Even those unfamiliar with the details of the CIA leak investigation have their own qualms, like the retired math teacher from North Carolina who didn't have any particular beef with the White House, but admitted that he was "not sure I would like to go bird hunting" with Cheney. Yuk, yuk.

Warrantless Wiretaps

The 13-month national drama that was the debate over the warrantless wiretapping program, during which the NSA eavesdropped on Americans and others suspected of terrorist ties without court warrants, has come to an end. Maybe.

In what the New York Times (which first broke the story in 2005) calls a "surprise reversal" by the Bush administration (the Wall Street Journal termed it an "abrupt about-face"), Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced yesterday that the NSA program would now be overseen by the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court.

According to the White House and the Justice Department, that doesn't mean that the president is backing off from his position that "he has the constitutional and legislative authority" for the program, writes the Washington Post. (Although many Democrats were arguing just that yesterday.)

Instead, the administration maintains that "they now are satisfied the FISA court can respond quickly to developing threats," writes USA Today.

Details of the new program were sketchy. Writes the Post: "Officials would not say, for example, whether the administration will be required to seek a warrant for each person it wants to monitor or whether the FISA court has issued a broader set of orders to cover multiple cases."

Rumble On C-SPAN

Turn on your C-SPAN, everyone, because Gonzales will appear on the Hill today before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and "is expected to face hostile questioning" about the program, says the Times. And committee member Chuck Schumer is already fired up, the LA Times reports. "Why it took five years to go to even this secret court is beyond comprehension," he said.

Public Displeased, Senate Symbolically Reactive. So Far.

Meanwhile, there is yet another poll reflecting the American public's displeasure with President Bush's handling of the Iraq war. This time, it's an LA Times/Bloomberg poll, which reveals that "more than three-fifths of those surveyed said the war was not worth fighting, and only one-third approved of [Bush's] handling of the conflict."

Also, "in a striking measure of people's declining trust in Bush, half said they believed he deliberately misled the U.S. in making his case for invading Iraq." Three fifths opposed the additional troops to Iraq, one third supported it.

The Senate has bravely responded to this outpouring with
an announcement yesterday of a non-binding resolution opposing the troop increase, which "could" come to an actual vote in two weeks.

The news appears on the front page of the Washington Post, which notes that there is also a small bipartisan group of Senators who are "pushing for far tougher measures" that would either cut off funding for the war or "legislatively thwart" the troop increase.

And Now, Some Good News

Good news about cancer makes the front pages of the LA Times, USA Today and The Washington Post, as well as the Wall Street Journal's newsbox.

The American Cancer Society says that cancer deaths have decreased for the second year in a row, this time reflecting more than 3,000 fewer deaths in 2004 than 2003. The previous year showed a decline of 369 deaths.

USA Today notes that the prognosis for blacks is not as promising, as "death rates for major cancers among blacks continue to be significantly higher than among whites." Black women have an 18% higher death rate from cancer than white women and black men have a 38% higher death rate than white men.

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