The Note

Asked if by disclosing his donors, President Bush was challenging the Democratic presidential hopefuls to do the same, Mehlman said, "The president strongly believes in full disclosure. Like in '00 we have tried very hard to be consistent with those beliefs. Each candidate can choose to disclose how they think best. We've been focused on making sure we are consistent with the president's philosophy."

Politics of national security:

The Washington Post 's Walter Pincus continues laying out the timeline about what the president knew about intelligence on Iraq's nuclear capabilities and when he knew it. LINK And Democrats jacked up the volume on their "most unified attack" (Democrats unified?) on the president, write the Washington Post 's Jim VandeHei and Helen Dewar. LINK Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) hammered the White House in a speech to the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington yesterday, saying Bush's Iraq plan was "'built on a quicksand of false assumptions, and the result has been chaos for the Iraqi people, and continuing mortal danger for our troops.'"

Florida Senator Bob Graham threw the "I" word out there, suggesting that it could be an impeachable offense if the president mislead Americans in making his case to go to war in Iraq — a statement some Democrats told VandeHei and Dewar was "the most hyperbolic and unhelpful statement so far."

Can't blame a guy for trying to break out of the pack, we suppose.

The Boston Globe 's Susan Milligan writes, "In his role as an elder statesman of his party, [Senator] Kennedy urged administration officials to seek the deployment of an international peacekeeping force, and he lambasted the Bush administration for the 'shoddy evidence' they offered to justify going to war." LINK The Associated Press reports, "President Bush, facing questions about his credibility, says the United States is working overtime to prove Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction before the United States invaded Iraq." LINK Double Bogey: in writing about the uranium flap, Walter Shapiro mentions "The Maltese Falcon" and Michael Kinsley mentions "Casablanca." LINK Kinsley explores Washington's newest favorite parlor game: who included the false Iraq intelligence in the president's State of the Union address? LINK But in typical Kinsley style, the piece deconstructs the president's words and suggests that the president himself just might deserve some of the blame.

Knight Ridder's Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay report, "In a new dispute over interpreting intelligence data, the CIA and other agencies objected vigorously to a Bush administration assessment of the threat of Syria's weapons of mass destruction that was to be presented Tuesday on Capitol Hill." LINK

Big Casino budget politics:

As if the projected $455 billion budget deficit weren't enough, the Office of Management and Budget announced yesterday that the federal government will go into another $1.9 trillion in new debt over the next five years, the Washington Post 's Jonathan Weisman reports. LINK In addition, we'll still be hauling around a $226 deficit annually in 2008, and the deficit — minus post-war Iraq costs — will be up to $475 billion in 2004. But don't worry; White House budget director Josh Bolten — sounding just like Mitch — says it's "manageable."

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