The Note: Commander, Rebel, Optimist, Fundraiser

WASHINGTON, Mar. 20

Those in the television business love few things as much as they love anniversaries. Anniversaries are events for which special graphics packages can be planned and created. And they provide a very easy narrative frame for a story that it is often difficult to tell.

Well aware of that dynamic, President Bush will create the political centerpiece of the day when travels to Cleveland, OH for a 12:25 pm ET speech on the "Global War on Terror" timed to the third anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. (Mr. Bush also meets with the Secretary General of NATO in the Oval Office at 9:30 am ET.)

ABC's Jessica Yellin and Jonathan Karl report that President Bush, in his remarks today, is expected to explain why he's optimistic about Iraq. He's expected to discuss why he is certain things will get better, according to a Senior Administration Official.

The President will also talk about the city of Tal Afar. "President Bush will explain there were terrorists living in Tal Afar and it was so bad a little boy who lived there had to participate in terrorism. But Americans and Iraqis worked together to make it safe for the Iraqis. In the White House's view -- Tal Afar is a case study of how 'clear, hold, and build' works," writes Yellin.

A Senior Administration Official tells Yellin that "the Administration understands people's confidence is shaken and the President's optimism might seem out of place. But with this speech the President says 'let me tell you why I'm so positive.'"

President Bush is expected to take questions from the audience at the conclusion of his speech -- which will likely make the New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller happy. LINK

Based on "classified briefings for friendly diplomats and visiting foreign officials," Jim Hoagland writes in a must-read Washington Post column that US troops will be "moving out of Iraq's streets and then out of Iraq's cities by the end of this year as part of a coordinated drawing down and concentration of all foreign forces. Troops from Italy and other nations will leave the country, and a reduced British force will redeploy into a smaller area of operational responsibility." LINK

On Friday, Gen. Chiarelli announced a new goal of turning over 75 percent of Iraq to Iraqi security forces. Hoagland seems to suggest a further goal that US troops will be out of all the cities by the end of the year.

Sen. Biden (D-DE) marks the third anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom with an 11:00 am ET press conference with John Podesta on the topic.

The "National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance" marks the three year anniversary of the Iraq war with a 9:00 am ET rally near the Lincoln Memorial and a march across Memorial Bridge to the Pentagon. The group plans to include a "die-in" outside the Pentagon and is expected to attempt to deliver a coffin to Secretary Rumsfeld.

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