White House Faces a World of Woes The White House is isolated and besieged. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz are drawing fire. And the president must confront a bill setting a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq.
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White House Faces a World of Woes

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White House Faces a World of Woes

White House Faces a World of Woes

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LYNN NEARY, Host:

White House Press Secretary Tony Snow will be back on the job tomorrow for the first time since he announced that the cancer he battled several years ago has returned. Snow is to begin chemotherapy treatment soon and is not sure what kind of work schedule he'll be able to maintain at that point. But for now, he's ready to return to the White House briefing room. And from that vantage point, Snow will find that many of the problems he'd been helping the White House deal with have only gotten worse.

NPR's Don Gonyea reports.

DON GONYEA: There's the Iraq war and the war with the reinvigorated Democratic Party now running the Congress. There's an embattled attorney general and an angry former CIA director, and a World Bank president chosen by President Bush who's on the brink of being fired. Let's start with the war.

On Tuesday, legislation providing emergency funding for continuing the war in Iraq will land on the president's desk. The funding bill includes specific benchmarks for measuring success and a timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. Mr. Bush says timelines amount to setting a surrender date and promises to veto the bill, even if that threatens the flow of funds to the front.

GEORGE W: My position has been consistent. I'm sorry it's come to this. And I'm sorry that we've, you know, have 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.

GONYEA: 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 also the fourth anniversary of the president's declaration that major combat operations were over in Iraq in 2003. It's what's become known as the Mission Accomplished Speech. The liberal group Americans United has also begun a TV ad campaign using the president's own words from that day.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAMPAIGN AD)

BUSH: Major combat operations in Iraq have ended.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

Unidentified Man: Four years later, there's no end in sight. And George Bush still won't face reality. Now, Congress has voted to start bringing our troops home.

GONYEA: And 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 to be president of the World Bank in 2005. But a scandal over salary arrangements for his girlfriend has led to calls for his ouster. And tomorrow, Wolfowitz faces a special committee of the bank's board to make his defense.

Also back in the news today 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. Now, Tenet disputes that in a new book and in a broadcast interview tonight on CBS's "60 Minutes." He says the administration made him a scapegoat for the decision to invade Iraq.

GEORGE TENET: It's the most despicable thing I've ever heard in my life. Men of honor don't do this.

Man: Men of honor don't do this?

TENET: You don't do this. You don't throw people overboard. You don't - you don't do this - give them a - 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.

GONYEA: Another sticky standoff continues over Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Congressional committees are investigating whether he was behind the firing of eight U.S. attorneys because they did not follow partisan directives. And those committees told Gonzales last week they won't accept his claims of faulty memory. Senator Mark Pryor is a Democrat from Arkansas who sat down with Gonzales last week.

MARK PRYOR: Basically, I told him - by the end of the meeting, I told him that I still think it's in the best interest of the department and the administration that he resign. Today's meeting, even though I appreciate him coming in, it really didn't change my view of that.

GONYEA: That same day, Senator John McCain became the first Republican presidential hopeful to say it's time for Gonzales to go. One place Gonzales will go is back to Capitol Hill for more hearings, and he may have lots of company. Congress has approved the subpoena for Condoleezza Rice and for some White House staffers, including key political adviser Karl Rove. It all adds up to a long list of pointed questions that Press Secretary Tony Snow will have to parry when he returns to the podium tomorrow.

Don Gonyea, NPR News, Washington.

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