The Morning Line: Leaked Afghanistan Field Reports to Shape Political War Debate At Home

BY Terence Burlij  July 26, 2010 at 9:30 AM EST

The release of 92,000 classified reports by the website WikiLeaks paints a familiar and bleak picture of just how difficult and convoluted achieving success in Afghanistan will be for the American military.

These reports will shine a bright light on the war just as Congress begins its final wrangling over the supplemental bill funding the conflict and as public opinion begins to turn more significantly in opposition.

The White House did not attempt to get the New York Times (one of three journalistic organizations given an early look at the documents by WikiLeaks) to refrain from publishing the story, but National Security Adviser Jim Jones offered a stern rebuke once the materials were published.

“The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security. WikiLeaks made no effort to contact us about these documents – the United States government learned from news organizations that these documents would be posted. These irresponsible leaks will not impact our ongoing commitment to deepen our partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan; to defeat our common enemies; and to support the aspirations of the Afghan and Pakistani people,” said Jones.

Be sure to tune into White House press secretary Robert Gibbs’ briefing today, currently scheduled for 1:00 pm ET, where the war in Afghanistan will be front and center.

He will, no doubt, point out that these documents go through December 2009, which is when President Obama announced a new strategy and a new way forward in Afghanistan with a surge of American forces. Gibbs will also likely make the point that it is precisely because of this kind of reporting out of Afghanistan that President Obama felt the status quo was no longer an acceptable option.

However, there is little doubt that this is President Obama’s war now and that line of response from the White House podium will not likely be sufficient to tamp down the questions that will flow from this massive document dump.

THE TAXMAN COMETH

The Sunday versions of the New York Times and Washington Post both lead with the looming battle over the extension of the Bush era tax cuts set to expire at the end of this year.

And Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner quickly made sure to shape that coming debate by laying down his marker on the Sunday shows. He said letting the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans expire is the “responsible” thing to do.

“Just letting those tax cuts that only go to 2 percent to 3 percent of Americans, the highest earning Americans in the country, expire — I do not believe it will have a negative effect on growth,” Geithner said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Setting up some intra-party negotiating that will have to take place with the White House, some moderate Democrats, such as Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., are arguing to extend all of the tax cuts including those for the wealthy at this moment of economic uncertainty.

This debate will provide the classic drawing of Republican vs. Democrat battle lines on taxes during the height of the fall midterm election season. But the Democrats are betting that the intensified concern among the electorate about rising deficits may provide some new context to the debate.

ADA TURNS 20

On this day 20 years ago, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, saying, “Let the shameful wall of exclusion finally come tumbling down.”

Congress enacted the ADA to “provide a clear and comprehensive national mandate for the elimination of discrimination against individuals with disabilities.”

On Monday, Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., who is quadriplegic, will be the first member in a wheelchair to preside over the U.S. House of Representatives. The Speaker’s rostrum on the floor has just been made wheelchair-accessible through a series of lifts.

The five-term Democrat and co-chair of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus announced he would take the rostrum as speaker pro tempore in a Facebook post.

Later this evening, President Obama will deliver remarks at the White House to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the ADA.

DEMOCRATIC ROOTS

President Obama urged a gathering of liberal activists at this weekend’s annual Netroots Nation convention in Las Vegas to “finish what we’ve started.”

The president spoke in a videotaped speech to the crowd, introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

He also acknowledged that for many Americans, “change hasn’t come fast enough.” His appeal was aimed at smoothing ties with a disaffected constituency that could be critical if Democrats are going to hold onto their majorities after November’s midterm elections.

Still, a poll of convention attendees conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner found that President Obama had an approval rating of 84 percent.

On Friday’s NewsHour, Judy Woodruff looked at a variety of Democratic interest groups and how they view the first 18 months of the Obama presidency.

In addition to President Obama and Speaker Pelosi, Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., also addressed the crowd on Saturday evening. He announced next year’s gathering will be held in Minneapolis, noting it would be “a little less glitzy” than Vegas, but also “less hot.”

David Chalian contributed to this report.