A new White House report on Iraq will show improved progress on just one of 18 political and security goals — efforts to allow former members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party to rejoin the political process, a senior administration official told The Associated Press.
The latest conclusions, to be released Friday, largely track a comparable poor assessment in July. The earlier White House report said the Iraqi government had made satisfactory gains toward eight benchmarks, unsatisfactory marks on eight and mixed results on two.
President Bush, defending an unpopular war, ordered gradual reductions in U.S. forces in Iraq on Thursday night and said, “The more successful we are, the more American troops can return home.”
Still, Bush firmly rejected calls to end the war, saying the insurgents who threaten Iraq’s future are a danger to U.S. national security. American troops must stay in the battle, Bush said, and more than 130,000 will remain after the newly ordered withdrawals are completed in July.
“The principle guiding my decisions on troop levels in Iraq is: return on success,” the president said.
President Bush will tell the nation this week he plans to reduce the American troop presence in Iraq by about 30,000 by next summer, but will condition those and further cuts on continued progress, The Associated Press has learned.
In a prime-time television address, probably Thursday, Bush will endorse the recommendations of his top general and top diplomat in Iraq, following their appearance at two days of hearings in Congress, administration officials said. The White House plans to issue a written status report on the so-called “surge” on Friday, they said.
In an interview billed as his first since leaving the top Pentagon post, Donald Rumsfeld calls Afghanistan “a big success,” but says U.S. efforts in Iraq are hampered by the failure of Iraq’s government to establish a foundation for democracy.
“In Afghanistan, 28 million people are free. They have their own president, they have their own parliament. Improved a lot on the streets,” Rumsfeld says in the October issue of GQ magazine.
First lady Laura Bush underwent surgery Saturday to relieve pain from pinched nerves in her neck. The White House said the procedure was successful.
The problem kept her from joining President Bush on a trip to Australia this week for the annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Sydney.
President Bush’s top two military and political advisers on Iraq will warn Congress on Monday that making any significant changes to the current war strategy will jeopardize the limited security and political progress made so far, The Associated Press has learned.
U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who has been less forthcoming than Gen. David Petraeus in advance of his testimony, will join Petraeus in pushing for maintaining the U.S. troop surge, seeing it as the only viable option to prevent Iraq and the region from plunging into further chaos, U.S. officials said.
President Bush took advantage of a vacationing Congress, a surprise visit to once-restive Anbar province and supportive words from Australia’s prime minister to trumpet his claims of progress in Iraq. Now he must press his case to skeptical lawmakers and a war-weary U.S. public.
The coming week may be his last opportunity to shift the debate — or at least to give Republicans political cover and throw Democrats off stride.
The White House rollout strategy envisions a presidential speech to the nation, either Thursday or Friday.
A federal judge in New York Thursday slapped down parts of the controversial USA Patriot Act and criticized Congress for abandoning its role of oversight, saying when “the judiciary lowers its guard on the Constitution it opens the door to far-reaching invasions of privacy.”
The ruling is a victory for the American Civil Liberties Union and an Internet service provider that challenged an FBI-issued National Security Letter that allows the government to gain access to personal records without court oversight.