Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
President Bush told reporters at a press conference at Camp David, Maryland, on Friday that he would veto the Iraq funding bill approved by Congress last week. "I'm sorry it's come to this," he said.
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images
The White House finds itself besieged on multiple fronts, from an angry former CIA director to an embattled attorney general. And then, of course, there's the ever-present controversy over what to do about Iraq.
On Tuesday, legislation providing emergency funding for the Iraq war will land on President Bush's desk. The funding bill includes specific benchmarks for measuring success and a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
The president says timelines amount to setting a surrender date, and he has vowed to veto the bill, even if that threatens the flow of funds to the front.
"My position has been consistent," President Bush said on Friday. "I'm sorry it's come to this. In other words, I'm sorry that we've, you know, had this — you know, the issue evolved the way it has. But nevertheless, it is what it is, and it'll be vetoed, and my veto will be sustained."
It will be only the second veto of Mr. Bush's six years in office. But it will take the already contentious conflict with Congress to another level.
Not coincidentally, Tuesday is the fourth anniversary of the president's declaration that major combat operations were over in Iraq, which has become known as the "mission accomplished" speech.
The liberal group Americans United has begun a TV ad campaign using the president's own statement from that day that "major combat operations have ended" against him. The ad intones: "Four years later, there's still no end in sight, and George Bush still won't face reality."
If "mission accomplished" is coming back to haunt the president, so, too, are prominent past members of his administration.
One is Paul Wolfowitz, a prime architect of the Iraq war as deputy secretary of defense. President Bush appointed Wolfowitz as president of the World Bank in 2005. But a scandal over salary arrangements for his girlfriend, also a bank employee, has led to calls for Wolfowitz's ouster. On Monday, Wolfowitz faces a special committee of the bank's board to make his defense.
Also back in the news is former CIA director George Tenet. The White House has said that Tenet told the president that it was a "slam dunk" that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. But Tenet disputes that claim in a new book and in an interview with CBS' 60 Minutes that airs Sunday night; portions of that interview were made public last week.
Tenet says the administration made him a scapegoat for the decision to invade Iraq.
"It's the most despicable thing I've ever heard in my life. Men of honor don't do this," Tenet tells 60 Minutes' Scott Pelley. "You don't do this, you don't throw people overboard, you don't, you don't give me, you don't call somebody in. You work your heart out, you show up every day. You're going to throw somebody overboard just because it's a deflection? Is that honorable? It's not honorable to me."
Yet another standoff continues over Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Congressional committees are investigating whether he fired eight U.S. attorneys because they did not follow partisan directives. Those committees told Gonzales last week that they won't accept his claims of faulty memory.
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) sat down with Gonzales last week.
"I told him that I still think it's in the best interest of the [Justice] Department and the administration that he resign," Pryor said, adding, "even though I appreciate him coming in, it really didn't change my view of that."
That same day, Arizona Sen. John McCain became the first Republican presidential hopeful to call for Gonzales to go.
One place Gonzales will certainly be going is back to Capitol Hill for more hearings. He may have plenty of company. Congress has approved a subpoena for Condoleezza Rice and for a slew of White House staffers, including key political adviser Karl Rove.