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Crooks and Liars now has a video clip up of today’s Presidential Presser, in case those who missed it want to tune in to the exchange with Helen Thomas.

Dan Eggen in the WaPo catches an interesting snippet from Bob Woodward’s Bush at War.

Bush started by talking about plans for a quick victory in Afghanistan but then turned to another topic, according to the passage on Page 303:

"He had become fascinated with the ability of the National Security Agency to intercept phone calls and other communications worldwide," Woodward wrote, referring to Bush. "If they got the key phone calls, future terrorism might be stopped, certainly curtailed. Bush summarized his strategy: ‘Listen to every phone call and close them down and protect the innocents.’ "

By this time, Bush had already issued his order allowing the NSA to intercept communications between the United States and overseas locations without warrants. The program was never divulged publicly, however, until press reports last December.

Of course, Bush could have been referring merely to the NSA’s traditional surveillance programs, which have long involved intercepting large amounts of communications overseas.

Eggan notes that in speaking with Woodward, Bob said that "he has not referred to the NSA’s warrantless spying program in his books or reporting."  How’s that for decidedly uncommittal on the facts or the merits? 

And speaking of the WaPo, Froomkin puts together an exceptional read today.  He also manages to add in a helping of snark to make the nasty news go down a little easier — which is much appreciated by this tired reader.  Thanks, Dan.

Who is this Jim Vandehei that the WaPo found to replace the other one today?  Shedding the poolboy attire, he points out that President Bush’s rosy scenario pronouncements on Iraq are…erm…not credible.

There also has been a steady drumbeat of criticism — from Democrats in particular — that the administration should have been more forthright about the war and its cost from the outset. There were the famous claims by Cheney and others that U.S. troops would be greeted as liberators after the invasion. Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a strong supporter of the war, said that was true — to a point. "The same people who cheer when you get rid of someone they hate might not be so happy" when you occupy their country for three-plus years, he said.

Other statements were proved wrong. The weapons of mass destruction the administration said Saddam Hussein possessed before the war have never been found — and many experts believe never existed. White House officials hammered then-chief economic adviser Lawrence B. Lindsey for claiming the war could cost as little as $100 billion, saying the estimate was too high. The actual tally is fast approaching four times that amount, according to the Congressional Research Service, which estimates a $360 billion price tag to date.

Perhaps the most famous rosy statement came nearly three years ago when Bush proclaimed: "We have seen the turning of the tide" under a banner that read "Mission Accomplished." Since then, more than 2,300 Americans have died in Iraq.

I mean, I’m not getting my hopes up for a permanent change or anything, but is this an indication that Congressional Republicans are unhappy with the Shrub?  As we well know, VandeHei has a pretty good pipeline to House GOP folks, so should we read this as the opening salvo in the "don’t blame us, blame Bush" 2006 campaign strategy?  Kinda tough when you are dragging along that rubber stamp, isn’t it?

TPM Muckraker hits a doozy of a find regarding MZM and its placement of several employees on the Robb-Silberman Commission staff.  Yep, no agenda there.  No sir-ee. 

The Tillman family is in the news again — this time the NYTimes picks up the story about the family’s fight with the Army to get the real facts about their son’s death.

And from the Department of It’s About Damn Time, the IRS is looking into Rick Santorum’s pals doing training sessions for Pennsylvania pastors in how to "get out the vote."  Ooops…those pesky tax exemption rules.  Poor Ricky — can’t even get his peeps to the polls via illegal end-runs of the IRS anymore.  What’s a Senator way down in the polls to do?

Oh, and I’m with Josh on this one.

(Picture love to Unbound.  Couldn’t resist the elephant dung photo today.)

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com