Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:
John Burns of The New York Times — who is considered the best print reporter on the beat in Iraq — disagrees with Democrats and other administration critics who think a U.S. troop withdrawal would make things better in Iraq.
Burns told Charlie Rose — "It seems to me incontrovertible that the most likely outcome of an American withdrawal any time soon would be cataclysmic violence."
Burns says the Sunni minority has the most to lose. He said one senior American official told him that Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hasimi — when told of the serious possibility of a withdrawal — said — "then we will all be slaughtered."
While every enforcement agency in theLabor Department is due for a large budget increase — House Democrats have cut $2 million from the small office of Labor-Management Standards — which tries to ensure union dues are properly spent.
The Wall Street Journal Online reports the agency has helped secure 775 convictions of corrupt union officials since 2001 — and the restitution of $70 million.
But Labor convinced Democrats to reject the president's request for a budget increase for the agency — and instituted the cut instead. And despite a Republican effort to stop the cuts — they were retained — with the help of 16 GOP defectors.
FBI officials say the most dangerous domestic terror groups in the U.S. might not be Islamic extremists — but radical environmental and animal rights groups.
Recently-released excerpts of the National Intelligence Estimate say Americans can expect attacks from "single issue" groups within the next three years. In the past the FBI has said these include animal-rights and environmental groups.
Cybercast News reports a FBI counterterrorism official says actions such as the bombing of two California companies with ties to animal research in 2003 are part of "a relentless campaign of terror and intimidation." And a spokesman with the North American Animal Liberation group says the movement will use — "any means necessary" to stop animal torture — including violence.
Battles over congressional earmarks are heating up. Alaska Republican Don Young — known as a prolific earmarker — came a little unglued recently when his request for education funds was questioned. He referred to the funds as "my money" and warned Republicans who were challenging him — "those who bit me will be bitten back."
One of the people going against Young was North Carolina’s Virginia Foxx — who said members are — "stewards of the money that we legally steal from the people of this country."
Meanwhile Indiana Democrat Peter Visclosky allowed colleague John Murtha to slip a $1 million request into one of his bills — for something called the Center for Instrumented Critical Infrastructure. When asked if this organization really exists — visclosky said — "at this time I do not know."
Despite that — the House rejected a move to cut the money. The Politico reports a certificate filed with the funds says they are actually destined for a consulting firm called Concurrent Technologies Corporation — run by a Murtha campaign contributor.
—FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.