And now the most compelling two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:
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President Postponed Plans?
U.S. officials now say that in October 2000, after the USS Cole (search) bombing, then-President Clinton secretly signed off on a plan to go after Usama bin Laden (search) and Al Qaeda, but then decided not to implement it and instead forwarded the plan to the incoming Bush administration. Former Clinton officials tell the Associated Press they urged the Bush administration to use their unmanned predator drones, which had spotted bin Laden as many as three times, and to arm the drones with missiles to kill bin Laden. But the Bush administration couldn't decide whether the CIA or Pentagon should operate the drones and couldn't agree on whether missiles would be sufficiently lethal. Top administration officials were still trying to resolve the matter as late as one week before the Sept. 11 atrocities.
A new Gallup poll out today shows that black and white Democrats tend to have sharply different views about who should represent their party in the 2004 presidential elections. The Rev. Al Sharpton (search) leads the list among black Democrats, with 24 percent backing him. But among white Democrats, Sharpton ranks last, with 1 percent. Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry are toward the top of the list for white Democrats, with 20 percent and 16 percent respectively, but both are tied for second-to-last among black Democrats, each with 6 percent. Black and white Democrats do, however, seem to agree about one candidate: Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, who leads the list among white Democrats with 22 percent and comes in second among black Democrats, with 17 percent.
Meanwhile, Dick Gephardt (search) is now backing off his promise three days ago to "do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does" if he's president. He now acknowledges that it may be rare or even impossible for a president to exercise such power over the Supreme Court, adding, "We have separation of powers...so you have got to follow the law."
The Senate Rules Committee has unanimously approved a new Senate rule that may change 150 years of history in the Senate. Reuters says Democrats and Republicans alike are behind a rule to prohibit senators from quietly taking off with furniture, paintings and other historic items from the Capitol, which Committee Chairman Trent Lott says has been a "regular practice" for more than a century even though "we're not supposed to."