Bush shifts his response to critics of the Iraq war: "People should feel comfortable about expressing their opinions about Iraq. . . This is not an issue of who's [a] patriot and who's not patriotic. It's an issue of an honest, open debate about the way forward in Iraq." Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.): "They have been overly optimistic, illusionary about their policy. This is not a war of words; this is a real war where people are getting killed." [WP, NYT, WT, USAT]

CIA Director Porter Goss: "We use lawful capabilities to collect vital information, and we do it in a variety of unique and innovative ways, all of which are legal and none of which are torture." [USAT, USAT, USAT]

Costs associated with rebuilding the Gulf Coast could top $100b; Bush loyalist assumes control of reconstruction effort. [WP, WP]

Bush has a little fun in China by exercising; White House officials and some journalists enjoy Outback Steakhouse there. [WP]

Bush returns home after making virtually no news on tour of Asia; the president of China is open to economic reforms but not interested in increasing political freedoms. [WP, NYT, USAT]

White House associates speculate that Bush "has long been aware that the vice president oversold the case on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction." [NYT]

"Firestorm" over Murtha may spill over into the issue of detainee treatment. [WSJ]

The "little triumvirate" of Republican Senators Warner, McCain, and Graham are forging their own path. [NYT]

Samuel Alito "has sided almost uniformly with those who have complained vigorously in recent years that zealousness in enforcing the Constitution's separation of church and state has unfairly inhibited religious practices." [NYT]

Interest groups move to localize the debate over Alito beginning this holiday weekend. [NYT]

Bill Clinton calls for less "demonizing" in political debates. [USAT]

With 27 months to go until the primary, Gov. Mark Warner (D-Va.) soaks up New Hampshire and admits whitening his teeth. [WP]

How can Howard Kurtz be impartial about CNN and The Washington Post? How does he even have the time to produce so much analysis? [NYT]


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