Bush "Well Aware" That "Civil War" Label Hurts Him - And So Does the NYT

Yesterday, the Times' executive editor announced that reporters could use the phrase "civil war" to describe Iraq.

Sheryl Gay Stolberg tracks President Bush to Latvia for Wednesday's "In Baltics, Bush Blames Qaeda for Iraq Violence and Declines to Call Situation Civil War."

"As the cycle of violence continues, officials outside the United States are warning that Iraq is verging on civil war. King Abdullah II of Jordan told ABC News on Tuesday that 'something dramatic' must be done, and Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary general, told reporters on Monday that the region would face civil war 'unless something is done drastically and urgently to arrest the deteriorating situation.'"

Stolberg admits the label could make things politically harder for Bush: "But Mr. Bush, well aware that a label of civil war would make the Iraq mission even more difficult to justify, brushed aside that question on Tuesday."

Stolberg doesn't mention her paper's own decision that would make the "Iraq mission even more difficult to justify." On Tuesday, Executive Editor Bill Keller made his own Secretary of State-type decision to allow Times reporters to label the situation in Iraq a "civil war," following the lead of NBC on Monday.