Fox News Sunday Snippets: July 3, 2011

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) joins us to offer up the latest on the debate over whether to raise the debt ceiling.

Then we'll get an update from Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who're in Afghanistan, to view firsthand how the US troop withdrawal will play out.

Here's a look at what we are reading to prepare for the show.

National Journal

Clinton Calls on Obama Not to 'Blink' on Debt-Ceiling Deal with GOP

By Ronald Brownstein

Former President Bill Clinton Saturday night urged President Obama not to “blink” at Republican demands to exclude revenue increases from any agreement to extend the government’s debt ceiling.

If Republicans maintain their opposition to revenue increases, Clinton said, Obama should pursue a short-term deal to extend the debt ceiling based on spending cuts both sides have already accepted in the negotiations between the administration and Congressional leaders from both parties.

“I hope they will make a mini-deal,” Clinton said in an interview conducted with him at the Aspen Ideas Festival here.

… The talks have foundered amid demands from Congressional Republicans to exclude any revenue increases from that prospective deficit reduction package.

Asked what the administration could do if GOP leaders hold to that posture, Clinton replied: “First the White House could blink. I hope that won’t happen. I don’t think they should blink.”

If Republicans will not accept revenues in a package to lift the debt ceiling by August 2, Clinton said, Obama should pursue a short-term agreement based on the spending reductions both sides have already accepted.

“There are some spending cuts they agree on …and he can take those and [get] an extension of the debt ceiling for six or eight months,” Clinton said.

“I don’t think you can agree to some mega-deal on their terms. And so I think as they get closer I believe they will agree on a more modest package of cuts and the Republicans, if I were in their position, I would say this only counts for six months or eight months or whatever but we don’t want to let the American people’s credit go under, let our credit get downgraded.”

To a much greater extent than Obama, Clinton said any long-term deficit reduction plan should be based on the plan proposed last fall by the bipartisan deficit commission chaired by Democrat Erskine Bowles and Republican Alan Simpson.

Clinton, who compared the current showdown with the government shutdown he faced with congressional Republicans led by Newt Gingrich in 1995-96, argued that a failure to extend the debt ceiling would constitute a “significant error” with potentially serious consequences not only for the U.S. but other economies around the world.

He added: “You have to assume that our credit rating will be downgraded and our interest rates will go up which will make the deficit problem worse and make it much more difficult to recover because it will be harder for people to get credit, even harder than it is now.”

Washington Post

U.S. envoy: Troop extension in Iraq is possible

By Ed O’Keefe

The United States remains open to keeping thousands of troops in Iraq beyond the end of the year if asked, but will require Iraqi forces to provide them with greater security, the U.S. envoy to Iraq said Saturday.

Ambassador James F. Jeffrey told reporters at a roundtable in the capital that the Obama administration would consider a request to keep some of the roughly 46,000 U.S. troops here, but added, “We do need the Iraqi forces to help us secure our troops and, frankly, to secure themselves.”

Most U.S. forces are scheduled to leave by year’s end as part of a three-year security agreement, while about 17,000 U.S. diplomats and private contractors stay on.

But Iraq’s top political leaders are expected to meet again this week to consider asking the United States to keep forces here into next year. Jeffrey would not say Saturday how many troops would be likely to remain.

New York Times

Taking Lead, Iraqis Hope U.S. Special Operations Commandos Stay

By TIM ARANGO

…Iraqi and American commanders worry that this crucial military legacy of the war may be at risk now that American forces are withdrawing this year under an agreement between the countries. Americans say the Iraqi special operations force, which was deliberately balanced with the country’s main sects and ethnicities, is more capable than the Iraqi Army and may be critical in preventing a resilient insurgency from exploding into a sectarian civil war. Even as few Iraqi politicians are willing to admit publicly that they need American help, Iraqi soldiers say that American troops must stay longer to continue training and advising.

“The Americans need to stay because we don’t have control over our borders,” said Maj. Gen. Fadhel al-Barwari, commander of the Iraq Special Operations Force.

The commandos make up a tightknit community where relationships between Iraqis and Americans are especially strong, having been nurtured over multiple deployments. In some cases the Americans here are on their eighth or ninth rotation. “Would we hope after spending eight years in this country, sharing blood, sweat and tears, dying side by side, working with each other, that we would maintain a relationship?” Col. Scott E. Brower, commander of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula, said in an interview at a base north of Baghdad. “Of course we would.”

The senior Iraqi military leaders have advised Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki that some troops should stay. American officials have said they would agree to a such a request.

Even though combat has officially been declared over, Iraq still looks like a war to the Special Operations units scattered around the country.

Associated Press

African Union Opposes Warrant for Qaddafi

The African Union has called on its member states to disregard the arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya, a move that could weaken the court’s ability to hold him accountable for any crimes committed against his people.

The motion, adopted late Friday, says that the warrant against Colonel Qaddafi “seriously complicates” efforts by the African Union to find a political solution to the crisis in Libya.

The African Union’s chairman, Jean Ping, told reporters that the court was “discriminatory” and focused on crimes committed in Africa but ignored those committed by Western powers, including in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

“With this in mind, we recommend that the member states do not cooperate with the execution of this arrest warrant,” the motion said.

If the bloc’s 53 member states abide by the decision, it will open the possibility that Colonel Qaddafi could avoid prosecution by taking refuge in a neighboring nation. That was the path taken by the former dictator of Chad, Hissène Habré, who was given asylum in Senegal over 20 years ago and who has yet to face trial over accusations that he tortured hundreds of opponents.

Reuters

Clinton slams Gaddafi threat to attack Europe

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stepped up Western calls on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to quit, brushing off his threat to attack Europeans in their homes and offices.

"Instead of issuing threats, Gaddafi should put the well-being and the interests of his own people first and he should step down from power and help facilitate a democratic transition," Clinton told reporters on a trip to Spain.

In an address relayed to some 100,000 supporters in Tripoli's Green Square on Friday, Gaddafi urged NATO to halt its bombing campaign or risk seeing Libyan fighters descend on Europe "like a swarm of locusts or bees."

Washington Post

U.S. turns to other routes to supply Afghan war as relations with Pakistan fray

By Craig Whitlock

The U.S. military is rapidly expanding its aerial and Central Asian supply routes to the war in Afghanistan, fearing that Pakistan could cut off the main means of providing American and NATO forces with fuel, food and equipment.

Although Pakistan has not explicitly threatened to sever the supply lines, Pentagon officials said they are concerned the routes could be endangered by the deterioration of U.S.-Pakistan relations, partly fed by ill will from the cross-border raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

While reducing the shipment of cargo through Pakistan would address a strategic weakness that U.S. military officials have long considered an Achilles’ heel, shifting supply lines elsewhere would substantially increase the cost of the war and make the United States more dependent on authoritarian countries in Central Asia.

A senior U.S. defense official said the military wants to keep using Pakistan, which offers the most direct and the cheapest routes to Afghanistan. But the Pentagon also wants the ability to bypass the country if necessary.

With landlocked Afghanistan lacking seaports, and hostile Iran blocking access from the west, Pentagon logisticians have limited alternatives.

U.S. military officials said they have emergency backup plans in case the Pakistan routes became unavailable.

In such an event, however, the military would have to deliver the bulk of its cargo by air, a method that might not be sustainable; it costs up to 10 times as much as shipping via Pakistan.

As recently as 2009, the U.S. military moved 90 percent of its surface cargo through Pakistan, arriving by ship at the port in Karachi and then snaking through mountain passes, deserts and remote tribal areas before crossing the border into Afghanistan. The Pakistan supply lines are served entirely by contractors instead of U.S. military convoys and are vulnerable to bandits, insurgents and natural disasters.

Today, almost 40 percent of surface cargo arrives in Afghanistan from the north, along a patchwork of Central Asian rail and road routes that the Pentagon calls the Northern Distribution Network. Military planners said they are pushing to raise the northern network’s share to as much as 75 percent by the end of this year.

Washington Post

Afghans infuriated by shelling from Pakistan

By Sayed Salahuddin

Public and political anger at weeks of cross-border shelling from Pakistan boiled over in Afghanistan, as protesters took to the streets of the capital, lawmakers demanded explanations from the central government, and a senior border police official submitted his resignation.

According to Afghan officials, more than 760 rockets have been fired into the eastern Afghan border provinces of Konar, Nangahar and Khost in the past six weeks, killing at least 60 people and wounding or displacing hundreds more.

Afghan officials, including President Hamid Karzai, have lodged formal objections with Pakistan’s government, but Pakistani officials have denied direct involvement in the attacks, saying they are being carried out by anti-Afghan militias beyond their control.

Associated Press

NATO Airstrikes Target Western Libya

NATO said Saturday it has begun ramping up its airstrikes on military targets in the western part of Libya, where rebel forces claim a string of advances through territory still largely under Col. Moammar Gadhafi's control.

Gadhafi's regime is determined to stand firm against opposition fighters moving from southern and eastern fronts toward the capital Tripoli. The rebels have largely solidified control over the eastern third of Libya but have struggled to push out of pockets they hold in the west.

NATO's latest comments suggest the alliance is hoping to tip the balance further in the rebels' favor despite threats by Col. Gadhafi to carry out attacks in Europe unless the airstrikes stop.

The coalition said it has destroyed more than 50 military targets in the west this week. It says it is targeting government forces in cities and along "major lines of communication."

Associated Press

Attacks Kill 18 in Afghanistan

A roadside bomb ripped through a van carrying a family Saturday in southern Afghanistan, killing all on board—the deadliest incident in a string of attacks that killed 18 civilians, according to officials.

The Ministry of Interior said four women and two children were among 13 people killed in the van in Shamulzayi district of Zabul province.

In neighboring Kandahar province, two civilians riding a donkey were killed Friday night when the animal stepped on a bomb in Maruf district, said Gen. Abdul Raziq, police chief of the district's province of Kandahar.

When villagers came to recover the bodies, another roadside bomb went off killing two more civilians, he said.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the attacks, saying in a statement that "bombings that kill innocent civilians are the work of people who don't want the nation to have a life without sadness."

Also in the south on Saturday, two gunmen on a motorcycle killed Wakil Mohammad Khan, a member of the local council in Nahri Sarraj district of Helmand province, the Interior Ministry said.

In the north, a local government official in Ghazi Abad district of Kunar province was ambushed Saturday morning by militants as he drove to work with his son and two body guards, said provincial spokesman Wasifullah Wasifi. The son and bodyguards were later released, but the district chief's whereabouts are not known, said Mr. Wasifi.

Separately, NATO reported the deaths of two coalition service members in roadside bombings—one Saturday in the west and the other Friday in the south. Italian defense officials said the service member killed in the west was an Italian who died when a bomb exploded near a village in Farah province.

New York Times

Europe Agrees to Give Billions to Greece

By STEPHEN CASTLE

European finance ministers staved off an imminent Greek default Saturday, agreeing to release a vital installment of financial aid to Athens, while delaying a deal on a second large rescue for Greece, possibly until September.

After a two-hour conference call, the 17 euro zone ministers said they would sign off on an 8.7 billion euro ($12.6 billion) loan that had been expected as part of a 110 billion euro package agreed upon last year. The board of the International Monetary Fund is expected to approve its current contribution, 3.3 billion euros, in the coming days.

Without the loans, the Greek government faced the prospect of insolvency within weeks. The euro zone ministers’ decision followed two votes in Greece’s parliament to approve a tough austerity package, a condition for international assistance.

National Journal

McCotter Launches Campaign for GOP Nomination for President

The field of Republican presidential candidates, already saturated with contenders, grew by one on Saturday as Rep. Thad McCotter, a long-shot from the suburbs of Detroit, announced he is running.

McCotter filed paperwork for the run on Friday, but made an announcement at a Fourth of July event in Michigan.

…McCotter represents Michigan’s 11th District, which includes the suburbs of Detroit.

…The chances of McCotter’s capturing the Republican nomination are slim. He is coming to the race relatively late; his name is comparatively unfamiliar to voters; his chances of raising enough money to be competitive are low.

Sunday Shows

Fox News Sunday

Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; and Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.

Meet the Press

"Meet the Press" will not air this week. Pre-empted by Wimbledon tennis coverage.

Face the Nation

Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio; Gov. Deval Patrick, D-Mass.; Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis.; and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

This Week

Michael Eric Dyson, professor, Georgetown University; Jill Lepore, professor, Harvard University; and Richard Stengel, editor-in-chief, Time magazine. Guests: Michelle Rhee, former chancellor, D.C. schools; former Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla.; and Jose Antonio Vargas, former Washington Post reporter.

State of the Union

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., from the Middle East. Steve Case, former chairman and CEO of AOL and chairman of Startup America Partnership; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan; Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO, Harlem Children's Zone; Suze Orman, personal finance expert; Russell Simmons, entrepreneur, founder, Def-Jam Recordings.