Skip to comments.Bush orders officials to stop the leaks
Posted on 10/16/2003 10:22:04 AM PDT by AntiGuv
WASHINGTON - Concerned about the appearance of disarray and feuding within his administration as well as growing resistance to his policies in Iraq, President Bush - living up to his recent declaration that he is in charge - told his top officials to "stop the leaks" to the media, or else.
News of Bush's order leaked almost immediately.
Bush told his senior aides Tuesday that he "didn't want to see any stories" quoting unnamed administration officials in the media anymore, and that if he did, there would be consequences, said a senior administration official who asked that his name not be used.
An escalating turf war involving Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has generated an unusually bountiful crop of leaks in recent months, and one result is a criminal investigation of anonymous officials in the White House who are alleged to have leaked the name of a CIA covert officer.
The infighting, backstabbing and maneuvering on such major foreign-policy issues as North Korea, Syria, Iran and postwar Iraq have escalated to a level that veterans of government say they have not seen in years. At one point, the senior official said, Bush himself asked how bad it was.
"This isn't as bad as [George] Shultz vs. [Caspar] Weinberger, is it?" he asked, referring to a legendary Reagan administration rivalry between secretaries of state and defense. One top official reportedly nodded and said it was "way worse."
The infighting has strained Bush's patience.
On Monday, reacting to reports of internal conflict among his top advisers, the President told one regional broadcaster: "The person who's in charge is me."
Bush's attempt to assert himself extends beyond the executive branch. Late Tuesday, in a brief, brusque arm-twisting session with nine senators, the President made it clear that he was not there to answer questions or debate the merits of his $87 billion Iraq and Afghanistan aid package. He demanded that the aid to Iraq be in the form of grants, not loans, as some of the senators have urged.
Present at the session in the Roosevelt Room of the White House were Republicans Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania; Olympia J. Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine; Saxby Chambliss of Georgia; Sam Brownback of Kansas; Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; and John McCain of Arizona. Democrats Maria Cantwell of Washington and Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana also attended.
At one point, as he discussed the question of providing some of the money as a loan, Bush slammed his hand down on the table and said: "This is bad policy."
When Collins tried to ask a question, the President replied: "I'm not here to debate it."
One participant told The Inquirer that some of the senators, particularly those who have never been on the opposing side of an issue with Bush, were "surprised by his directness." It was clear he was not there to engage in any give-and-take, the participant said.
Nevertheless, Bush failed to sway any of the pro-loan Republicans.
That failure was in sharp contrast to the President's lobbying of House members last week. Zach Wamp, a Tennessee Republican who had pushed a loan plan, backed away after meeting with Bush. "If his eyes had been lasers, mine would have burned out," Wamp said then.
"What's most revealing is the extent of frustration taking hold," said historian Robert Dallek of Boston University, a biographer of Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and John F. Kennedy. "It's really reminiscent of Johnson and Vietnam. Members of the Senate... and the media were giving him grief. It sounds like Bush is falling into that pattern. He's blaming the media, much like Johnson did."
Yesterday, Bush sent Vice President Cheney and Powell to the Capitol to attend a Republican senatorial lunch, but they made no apparent converts. After the lunch, a dozen GOP senators were still discussing how the reconstruction money could be turned into a loan or partial loan.
Snowe said of Powell and Cheney: "They're very strong in their beliefs. And the President has come out strongly. Obviously we have a fundamental difference on the issue."
Brownback said: "I think we ought to have the Iraqis have some skin in the game with some loans. I don't know if they're going to be able to repay it. But if it's all a grant, we know it won't get repaid."
The President told her a Texas Cheeseburger and fries. The hostess replied that they didn't prepare cheeseburgers, was there anything else the Governor would like. Bush just looked at her and repeated, Texas Cheeseburger and fries.
The fancy chef at Blair House quickly learned how to make a Cheeseburger.
This man is in charge.
While Bush wasn't my first choice, I had become interested in what I was learning about how he governed Texas. He had already stared down the GOP when something like a 100 GOP Congressmen and Senators had signed a letter demanding he pick McCain as his running mate.
When I heard this story I knew I was going to like this guy.
News of Bush's order leaked almost immediately.
" WAR IS PEACE
FREEDOM IS SLAVERY
DIVERSITY IS STRENGTH"
Sounds like a leak to me.
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