Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Positive Steps

A retired army general who was once called Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's "most outspoken critic" over the war in Iraq now says the U.S. is achieving its objectives there. Barry McCaffrey, perhaps best known as President Clinton's drug czar, blasted the Pentagon in 2003 for invading Iraq without enough troops to keep the peace after the fall of Baghdad.

But after a week in Iraq, McCaffrey praised the morale and effectiveness of U.S. forces as "simply awe inspiring," called the Iraqi Army, "real, growing, and willing to fight," and noted that "the Iraqi police are beginning to show marked improvement in capability."

And while he called foreign fighters a "tactical menace," McCaffery reports, "the foreign jihadist fighters have been defeated as a strategic and operational threat to the creation of an Iraqi government."

Left Wing History

Ray McGovern, the former CIA analyst who last week accused Rumsfeld of lying about pre-war intelligence, has a long history of attacking the administration from the left. McGovern co-founded Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which encourages intelligence operatives to undermine the Bush administration by leaking classified information.

He also called for the president's impeachment when he was a star witness in last year's Democratic hearing accusing the administration of misleading the country into war — claiming the U.S. invaded Iraq for oil, Israel, and to establish military bases in the region.

What's more, the Weekly Standard reports that McGovern served so-called "war crimes indictments" on the Bush White House in January on behalf of the left-wing group, Not in our Name, which was founded by revolutionary Maoist activists.

No Halls Barred

TV journalists have long fought behind closed doors for greater access on Capitol Hill — and now they're taking the fight public.

The Radio and Television Correspondents' Association, led by FOX's own Brian Wilson, is demanding the right to set up cameras outside Senate chambers without the advance permission of Senate leadership, but after meeting stiff resistance, the group is calling on its 2,600 members to lobby for the cause.

Wilson calls it an issue of "basic fairness," noting that radio and print reporters can travel the halls of congress at will, and that broadcasters are allowed to set up just outside the House chamber every day as well. But Mississippi Republican Trent Lott says he and his fellow senators won't back down, calling it a "closed issue"

Dire Straits

The New York Times reports that the humanitarian situation in the Darfur region of Sudan remains dire. A headline on the Times' front page says, "Refugees still in crisis Despite Darfur Pact" and inside, an expert says there is "massive suffering" in Sudan — under the headline, "Peace Pact has yet to touch lives of Darfur's Refugees."

That peace deal between the Sudanese government and rebels from the Sudanese Liberation Army was signed on Friday.

—Fox News Channel's Aaron Bruns contributed to this report.

With more than 35 years of journalism experience to draw from, Brit Hume currently serves as a senior political analyst for FOX News Channel (FNC) and contributes to all major political coverage. Hume also is regular panelist on FOX's weekly public affairs program, "FOX News Sunday" on Sundays at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ET. Click here for more information on Brit Hume