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The Bush administration is seeking a "war czar" to oversee the U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. But so far, the Washington Post reports, it's having a hard time finding anyone willing to take the job.
At least three retired four-star generals, the Post says, have been approached by the White House, but all declined to be considered for the high-powered position, highlighting the administration's problems in convincing "top recruits to join the team after five years of warfare that have taxed the United States and its military."
One of those who spurned the job, retired Marine Gen. John J. "Jack" Sheehan, was outspoken about his reasons for turning it down.
"The very fundamental issue is, they don't know where the hell they're going," said Sheehan, a former top NATO commander. Sheehan said he believes that hawks like Vice President Cheney have more influence in the White House than those looking for a way out of Iraq. "So rather than go over there, develop an ulcer and eventually leave, I said, 'No, thanks.' "
Sources said the others contacted by the White House were Army Gen. Jack Keane and retired Air Force Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, who both said they were not interested.
The idea for creating the new position follows concern over longstanding disputes between civilian and military officials in Iraq. The war czar would have the authority to issue directions to the Pentagon, State Department and other agencies.
Panel Revises Voter Fraud Findings
A federal panel apparently altered its conclusions on the prevalence of voter fraud to more closely reflect a position championed by Republicans, according to a report in Wednesday's New York Times.
The panel, the Election Assistance Commission, issued a report to the public which said there is "a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud." But the original version of the report, which was obtained by the Times, said that most experts felt there was "little polling place fraud."
Republicans have long claimed that voter fraud is widespread and have used this argument to justify voter ID requirements that have become law in at least two dozen states. Democrats, on the other hand, say voter fraud is rare and oppose the voter ID laws, which they say primarily target minorities, the poor and the elderly -- who are less likely to have the proper IDs, and tend to vote Democratic.
The Times says the same election panel also came under fire two weeks ago for refusing to release another report on voter ID laws. That report, which was finally released after pressure from Congress, found that voter ID laws designed to fight fraud "can reduce turnout, particularly among members of minorities."
The issue of voter fraud has come up recently in the investigation of the Bush administration's firings of eight U.S. Attorneys, several of whom, critics charge, were dismissed for failing to aggressively pursue voter fraud cases.
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