White House gets it from all sides

VA Data Theft:

"Lawmakers from both parties called on the Bush administration yesterday for money and accountability in a widening data-security breach now encompassing nearly all active-duty military, Guard, and Reserve members.

In the Senate, Democrats renewed their criticism of Veteran Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson and demanded his ouster following the agency's disclosure Tuesday that personal information for 2.2 million military personnel -- not just 50,000, as initially believed -- was stolen from a VA employee May 3.

'It's amazing. Such incompetence is worse than anything I've ever seen in six administrations,' Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, said during a news briefing. 'At some point, this administration has got to stop saying we'll hire or appoint political cronies, but we'll actually appoint somebody who knows how to make the government work.'"

-----------------------

Specter Blasts Cheney’s Obstructionism on Eavesdropping Investigation:

"In a letter to Mr. Cheney that the senator released to the news media, Mr. Specter said the vice president had cut him out of discussions with all the other Republicans on his own committee about oversight of the administration's eavesdropping programs, a subject on which Mr. Specter has often been at odds with the White House…

'I was surprised, to say the least, that you sought to influence, really determine, the action of the committee without calling me first, or at least calling me at some point,' Mr. Specter wrote. 'This was especially perplexing since we both attended the Republican senators caucus lunch yesterday and I walked directly in front of you on at least two occasions en route from the buffet to my table.'"

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CIA Financing of Somali Warlords:

"A covert effort by the Central Intelligence Agency to finance Somali warlords has drawn sharp criticism from American government officials who say the campaign has thwarted counterterrorism efforts inside Somalia and empowered the same Islamic groups it was intended to marginalize…

Indeed, some of the experts point to the American effort to finance the warlords as one of the factors that led to the resurgence of Islamic militias in the country. They argue that American support for secular warlords, who joined together under the banner of the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counterterrorism, may have helped to unnerve the Islamic militias and prompted them to launch pre-emptive strikes. The Islamic militias have been routing the warlords, and on Monday they claimed to have taken control of most of the Somali capital.

'This has blown up in our face, frankly,' said John Prendergast of the International Crisis Group, a nonprofit research organization with extensive field experience in Somalia."

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