Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "Iraq: Bravo Company's story," Aug. 21, 2004

CIA President George W. Bush named Porter Goss, Florida Republican and chairman of the House Intelligence ­Committee, to head the CIA, replacing longtime director George Tenet, who resigned last month. The selection could put Mr. Goss in line to become the first national intelligence director, if Congress and the president follow the 9/11 Commission recommendation. Mr. Goss, a former CIA spy who headed the House's intelligence oversight committee for eight years, is likely to face a confirmation fight but will probably win approval in the end. "He knows the CIA inside and out," Mr. Bush said. That's just what his opponents don't like: His expertise includes oversight at a time when the agency is blamed for failures, including 9/11 attacks and WMD intelligence from Iraq.

Iraq U.S. and Iraqi forces battled Islamic militant ­Moqtada Sadr's army in Najaf in a widening conflict that included aerial attacks by the United States and face-to-face gun battles in a Muslim ­cemetery.

An estimated 360 Sadr ­loyalists have been killed in the clashes. At least four U.S. soldiers have been killed and 19 wounded. Coalition forces intensified the heat against Sadr's army on mounting ­evidence that the radicals are behind terror both in the south and in Baghdad. U.S. ­soldiers continue to patrol the front lines against insurgency, in some cases street-by-street and round-the-clock. Capt. Michael Rainey of the 91st Engineers says small patrols are vulnerable but also critical to winning hearts and minds in Iraq. "Joshua is the original company commander," he said. "He led a small number of people against a large army. Because of his faith in God he was able to overcome.

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Illinois Playing catch-up in a lopsided Senate race, Alan Keyes on Aug. 10 challenged Barack Obama to six Lincoln-Douglas-style debates. Mr. Keyes, who rented a two-­bedroom, inner-city flat to establish his Illinois residency, chided his opponent for shortening the debate schedule he had agreed to with Jack Ryan, the previous Republican ­nominee.

"When he was facing Jack Ryan, he was Abraham Lincoln. When he was facing an empty chair, possibly, he was Muhammad Ali. I step into the ring and what happens? Well, all of a sudden, he's running out of the ring, looking for the ropes, sizing up the number of exits."

For Mr. Keyes, a gifted orator, televised debates may be the only way to quickly establish credibility in the race-and they won't cost a thing to his nearly penniless campaign. Mr. Obama, however, was less than eager to share the spotlight with his new challenger. After agreeing to three debates in October, he landed an Ali-style counter-punch: "At this point, the schedule is getting short, and we are not going to have my schedule and the schedule of my campaign dictated by somebody who just arrived two days ago," he said. The issue of Mr. Keyes's hurried move to Illinois is sure to dog him throughout the campaign-and perhaps beyond.

Politics President Bush barnstormed his way through six toss-up states, telling voters at each stop that he-not John Kerry-is the man to win the war on terror. "I know what I'm doing when it comes to winning this war, and I'm not going to be sending mixed ­signals," he told a crowd in Albuquerque, N.M., on Aug. 11, criticizing Mr. Kerry's promise to begin bringing the troops home within six months.

With Sen. Kerry relentlessly touting his foreign-policy expertise, the president trotted out Sen. John McCain, the maverick Republican war hero, to help make his case. "Because of what we did in Iraq, the world is safer and America is safer," Sen. McCain told a hometown crowd in Phoenix. "President Bush has not wavered, he will not waver. We will win this war on terror."

Mr. McCain lent his support to the president despite an earlier flap over a new TV ad suggesting that Mr. Kerry lied about his war record. The Arizona senator, who spent years as a POW in Vietnam, called the charges "dishonest and dishonorable," and he called on the White House to repudiate the group responsible for the ad.

War on Terror Raids on suspected al-Qaeda operatives continued in Pakistan, where authorities arrested five more men between Aug. 10 and 12, among them "valuable targets." That brought Pakistan's tally of arrests in the last month to about 30. President Pervez Musharraf said his forces had captured "90 percent" of the country's Islamic militants in the sweep. British police also continued to question some dozen men arrested in early August, among them a man who is under a U.S. extradition warrant. In the meantime, American and British investigators sifted through the surveillance photos and documents of U.S. financial institutions and London's Heathrow airport found on two suspects. The terror threat level-heightened to orange upon discovery of the evidence-stayed on high, with little sign of when stiff security in Washington, New York, and New Jersey would ease.

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