The Note

The AP leads thusly, "Mired in a complicated, unfinished mission in Iraq, President Bush is pausing this Veterans Day to reflect on sacrifices being made by U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan and honor soldiers of wars past" as he heads to Arlington Cemetery before visiting the Reagan building to "talk about the high stakes in Iraq." LINK

Condoleezza Rice tells local news outlets, "Major combat operations have not resumed in Iraq by really any stretch of the imagination" LINK

Paul Krugman marks Veterans Day by highlighting recent cuts in military benefits and writes, if military "disillusionment spreads to the rank and file, the politics of 2004 may be very different from what anyone expects." LINK

Meanwhile the Washington Post 's E.J. Dionne says Democrats are now the conservatives when it comes to foreign policy and urges them to be "bold enough" to answer the president's "radical challenge" on the Big Idea of democracy in the Middle East. LINK

Deb Orin agrees (sort of) with E.J. Writes the New York Post 's Washington bureau chief, "the Democratic 2004 presidential contenders had no answer at all" to the Bush's Middle East speech — "they could hardly ridicule the idea of spreading democracy so instead they chose to ignore the speech, to pretend it never happened," a reflection of the reality "that Democrats have a better chance of winning back the White House if there's bad news from Iraq. Contemplating breakthrough democracy doesn't fit that equation." LINK

The New York Times reports on the Vice President's recent assertions that Al Qaeda is behind the mounting violence in Iraq and finds "law enforcement officials say there is no conclusive evidence pointing to a particular group — Al Qaeda or not — as the mastermind behind any" of the major attacks. Notes the Times , "Indicating who is behind the bombings — militants linked to Al Qaeda or homegrown loyalists to Saddam Hussein — is important politically for Mr. Cheney and his boss, President Bush, terrorism experts say." LINK

The Times story quotes General Sanchez as saying recently, "We do not have any confirmed Al Qaeda operatives actually in custody at this point," and this very morning the General told reporters, "at one point, we had up to about 20 suspected al-Qaida members, but as we have continued to refine and interrogate, we have not been able to establish definitively that they were al-Qaida members." LINK

The New York Times reports on the problems of the American "Iraqification" plan in Fallujah — local leaders say the U.S. forces "don't understand that the sheiks have no control over those people doing the attacks." LINK

The New York Times Notes "twenty-six House Democrats have agreed to support a resolution calling for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld" that accuses the Secretary of "'gross mismanagement' in planning and conducting the war in Iraq and of misleading the public on progress since Baghdad fell." LINK

The New York Times ' David Brooks says charges of cronyism in Iraq reconstruction are the stuff of urban myth, arguing "the idea that a Bush political appointee can parachute down and persuade a large group of civil servants to risk their careers by steering business to a big donor is the stuff of fantasy novels, not reality." LINK

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