Public opinion against the Iraq war has reached new heights.  --  A telephone poll of 1,052 American adults conducted Apr. 20-24, 2007 (margin of error 3%), 64% said Congress "should set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq sometime in 2008," up from 57% two weeks earlier, Angus Reid Global Monitor noted Saturday.[1]  --  Asked whether Congress or the president should, in the final analysis, determine troop levels in Iraq, 57% said Congress and 35% said the president (two weeks earlier the figures were 49% and 44%, respectively).  --  The poll was sponsored by CBS News and the New York Times.  --  The Times mentioned the poll an article about the stand-off between Congress and the president, rather than featuring it as the subject of a separate article.[2] ...


1.

Polls & research

SUPPORT FOR IRAQ WAR TIMETABLE HITS 64% IN U.S.

Angus Reid Global Monitor
April 28, 2007

http://www.angus-reid.com/polls/index.cfm/fuseaction/viewItem/itemID/15551

Many adults in the United States believe their federal government should establish a date for the end of the coalition effort, according to a poll by CBS News and the *New York Times*. Sixty-four per cent of respondents think the U.S. should set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq sometime in 2008, up seven points since mid-April.

The coalition effort against Saddam Hussein’s regime was launched in March 2003. At least 3,334 American soldiers have died during the military operation, and more than 24,900 troops have been wounded in action.

In December 2005, Iraqi voters renewed their National Assembly. In May 2006, Shiite United Iraqi Alliance member Nouri al-Maliki officially took over as prime minister.

On Apr. 25, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 218-208 to authorize a $124.2 billion U.S. war funding bill that calls for U.S. troops to start withdrawing from Iraq on Oct. 1. On Apr. 26, the Senate voted 51-46 in favour of the legislation.

Yesterday, U.S. president George W. Bush discussed his views on the actions of Congress, saying, "I haven’t vetoed the first bill yet. But I’m going to. And the reason why I’m going to is because members of Congress have made military decisions on behalf of the military. They’re telling our generals what to do. They’re withdrawing before we’ve even finished reinforcing our troops in Baghdad. They’re sending, in my judgment, a bad message to the Iraqis and to the enemy and, most importantly, to our military folks. So I made it clear I’d veto." Fifty-seven per cent of respondents think Congress should have the final say about U.S. troop levels in Iraq.

POLLING DATA

Do you think the United States should or should not set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq sometime in 2008?

Apr. 12 -- Should 57%, Should not 38%, Unsure 5%
Apr. 24 -- Should 64%, Should not 32%, Unsure 4%

Currently, U.S. president George W. Bush and Congress disagree about what to do about U.S. troop levels in Iraq. Who do you think should have the final say about troop levels in Iraq: the president or Congress?

Apr. 12 -- Congress 49%, President 44%, Both 3%, Unsure 4%
Apr. 24 -- Congress 57%, President 35%, Both 3%, Unsure 5%

--Source: CBS News / New York Times

Methodology: Telephone interviews with 1,052 American adults, conducted from Apr. 20 to Apr. 24, 2007. Margin of error is 3 per cent.

2.

Washington

SENATE PASSES BILL SEEKING IRAQ EXIT; VETO IS EXPECTED
By Carl Hulse

New York Times
April 27, 2007

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/27/washington/27cong.html

WASHINGTON -- The Senate on Thursday sent President Bush a $124 billion war spending measure that he has promised to veto, forcing Democrats to begin confronting the difficult question of what to do after the president acts.

Lawmakers and senior Democratic aides in the House and Senate acknowledge that there is no consensus among the party’s leadership on how to respond legislatively to the veto, with members of the House and Senate advocating competing options and some outside antiwar groups urging the Democrats to hold firm.

“It gives new meaning to the notion of a fluid process,” said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, after the Senate voted 51 to 46 over serious Republican objections to approve the emergency war measure. Two Republicans joined 48 Democrats and one independent in supporting the bill that would order troops to begin leaving Iraq by Oct. 1 at the latest; 45 Republicans and one independent opposed it.

The White House reaction was swift and harsh. “Eighty days after President Bush submitted his troop funding bill, the Senate has now joined the House in passing defeatist legislation that insists on a date for surrender, micromanages our commanders and generals in combat zones from 6,000 miles away, and adds billions of dollars in unrelated spending to the fighting on the ground,” said Dana Perino, the administration spokeswoman.

With the veto coming, some Democrats argue that the bill should simply be stripped of the timelines that have drawn Mr. Bush’s ire and sent back with the benchmarks and troop readiness rules intact. Others say Congress has made its antiwar statement and should now give the president the money without conditions.

Another wing, including House Democrats who are influential on military policy, prefers providing money for the troops for a few months while keeping pressure on the White House through other Pentagon-related legislation. Still others want to turn the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group into law.

Each alternative carries its own risk because Democratic leaders might not be able to muster the votes for passage of an alternate bill because a substantial bloc of Democrats opposes providing more money without some demand for a withdrawal.

One senior House aide summarized the problem succinctly: The president does not want the bill Democrats have passed, and Democrats might not be able to pass the bill the president wants.

But the Democratic leadership was not ready Thursday to contemplate the tough course ahead in public. With the Senate joining the House in approving the spending bill, Democrats delivered their most significant challenge to Mr. Bush’s Iraq policy since they took power in January after an election that many Democrats saw as a referendum on the president and his handling of the war.

“We have carried forth the wishes of the American people,” said Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate Democratic leader.

Recent public opinion polls show the Democrats, with a push for a timeline for leaving Iraq, have struck a chord. A New York Times-CBS News poll found that those surveyed favored a timeline for withdrawal in 2008 by a wide margin, 64 percent to 32 percent. The poll of 1,052 people conducted April 20-24 also found public support for Congress to have the final say on troop levels in Iraq, 57 percent to 35 percent.

The poll also showed that those surveyed said 56 percent to 36 percent that they believed Congress should allow the war money to go forward without timelines once Mr. Bush vetoes the bill.

Senate Republicans called the measure a wasted exercise. Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, the Republican whip, joined the White House in declaring the bill “dead before arrival.”

Others pointed to statements by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the commander in Iraq who met privately with lawmakers on Wednesday, that Al Qaeda is a primary source of violence in Iraq.

“They are attacking Americans,” said Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, Republican of Texas. “They are attacking Iraqis. They are trying to take over Iraq so they will have the capability to spread their terrorism throughout the world.”

Democrats said that Republicans were once again trying to tie the terrorism threat to what is predominantly a civil war in Iraq and that a withdrawal there would in fact allow American forces to concentrate better on terrorism.

“Redeploying our troops who are bogged down in the middle of an Iraqi civil war will enable us to refocus on our top national security: the global fight against Al Qaeda and its affiliates,” said Senator Russell D. Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin.

“It is time to come home,” said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey.

As they begin to fashion their post-veto strategy, Democrats say they will listen carefully to what Mr. Bush says in rejecting the bill, studying the nuances for negotiating room beyond his call for a spending measure with no restrictions.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate have recently indicated an openness to legislation that contains some form of benchmark to better chart the progress of the Iraqi government.

“There are a number of members of my conference who do think that benchmarks could be helpful, depending upon how they’re crafted,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader. “And that’ll be among the many items we discuss in moving forward and getting the money to the troops as quickly as possible.”

Mr. McConnell said he and Mr. Reid had already had preliminary talks about how to proceed after the veto.

Democrats said Mr. Bush was going to have to engage them as well.

“Maybe if he does veto this bill, maybe we’ll come to the conclusion that it’s time to change direction in this war, and he will sit and talk to us,” said Mr. Reid, who said a new bill might not be ready before June 1.

Another factor in the Democratic strategy is the influence of outside groups allied with the party against the war, some of which may be very reluctant to relent in the showdown with Mr. Bush. As soon as Mr. Bush vetoes the measure -- perhaps as early as Tuesday, on the fourth anniversary of his 2003 “mission accomplished” appearance -- a network of groups plans to spring into action with hundreds of rallies and news conferences around the country to bolster the Democrats.

And a poll released Thursday by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that many backers of both Republicans and Democrats were not eager for compromise. The survey of 1,508 adults conducted April 18-22 found that 54 percent of those who support a timeline for withdrawal do not want Democrats to strike a deal; the same percentage of those against a timeline say Mr. Bush should follow through with his veto.

Add in the determination of Congress and the White House to shift blame for any delay in money for the armed forces, and it is clear that finding a final agreement will be a challenge. Officials predict that the next 10 days could prove critical.

“It ain’t going to be easy,” said Jim Manley, a spokesman for Mr. Reid. “But it will get done.”

RICE BALKS AT HOUSE IRAQ SUBPOENA

OSLO -- A day after receiving a subpoena from Congress, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signaled here on Thursday that she would resist the order to appear before a House committee to answer questions about how the White House handled prewar intelligence about Iraq.

“This is an issue that has been answered and answered and answered,” she said at a news conference before a meeting of foreign ministers of NATO countries. “I am more than happy to answer them again — in a letter, because I think that is the way to continue this dialogue.”

Ms. Rice said she had worked in the White House, as national security adviser, during the prewar period and was therefore not legally obligated to testify before Congress.