Will Freedom of Speech Be Restricted in U.S.?

Now some fresh pickings from the Political Grapevine:

Civil War?

There is a big debate in newsrooms across the country about what to call the sectarian and insurgent fighting in Iraq, not to mention among politicians and experts.

NBC News yesterday became the first broadcast network to characterize it as a "civil war" —acknowledging that such a designation could erode public support for the war. Katie Couric on CBS said Iraq was slipping "ever closer to civil war." And Charles Gibson on ABC said, "you can call it anarchy, you can call it chaos, you can call it civil war." The Washington Post says it has no policy, and The Boston Globe says it's still deciding. The New York Times said today it will allow correspondents to use that term when appropriate. The Los Angeles Times has been using it since last month.

Re-examine Freedom of Speech?

Former House Speaker and possible Republican presidential candidateNewt Gingrich says the U.S. will be forced to re-examine freedom of speech to meet the threat of terrorism. Gingrich told an audience in Manchester, New Hampshire Monday that a "different set of rules" — may be needed to curb terrorists' ability to use the Internet and free speech to spread their message and recruit people. A Gingrich spokesman tells FOX News the former speaker thinks it is reasonable to interfere with the terrorists' ability to do the country harm — and wants an examination of ways that might be accomplished.

Pattern Associated With Terrorism

There is new information on why the crew of a U.S. Airways jet called for the removal of six Muslim imams from a flight last week in Minneapolis. The Washington Times reports passengers and flight attendants said the men switched from their assigned seats to a pattern associated with the September 11th terror attacks — two in the very first row — two in the middle next to the exit and two in the rear.

The Times quotes an unidentified federal air marshal as explaining that pattern would enable a group to control the most important areas in the cabin. The imams yesterday staged a protest at Washington's Reagan Airport and have characterized their removal as an act of "Islamophobia."

Popularity Contest

And as some start to think about the next presidential election, a new popularity survey of nationally-known politicians shows that Americans feel very good about former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Illinois Senator Barack Obama and Arizona Senator John McCain — all of whom may run for president in 2008 as we've been reporting.

They finished one, two, three in a poll by Quinnipiac University which it calls a "thermometer reading." The thermometer also showed Condoleezza Rice coming in fourth, former President Bill Clinton fifth, and Hillary Clinton ninth.

President bush was 15th — and his 2004 rival — Senator John Kerry, came in dead last — 20th on the list of 20. The poll of about 1,600 registered voters was conducted a week after the midterm elections.

—FOX News Channel's Martin Hill contributed to this report.