Though Gen. David Petraeus has told President Bush “that he wants to maintain heightened troop levels in Iraq well into next year,” a senior U.S. official says the general is willing to consider a slight drawdown of “between 3,500 and 4,500 U.S. troops from Iraq early next year.”
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) lashed out at Senate Republican leaders yesterday over their efforts to force Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) to resign. “I hope I never stub my toe and they throw me under the bus,” said Simpson. “It kind of makes you wonder what party you want to be a member of,” he added, noting he has no intention of switching parties.
“American intelligence agencies are expecting Osama bin Laden to issue a triumphant message to Al Qaeda followers on the sixth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks boasting of Al Qaeda’s growing numbers and success in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.” The al-Qaida leader has not appeared in new video footage since October 2004.
“Seven U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq, including four in the western province of Anbar, the U.S. military said on Friday.” The deaths take to more than 3,750 the number of U.S. soldiers killed since the start of the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
Yesterday, the head of the Justice Department’s civil division announced that he will be leaving in two weeks. His departure “will leave only two of the department’s six key litigation divisions headed by Senate-confirmed officials.” Once Alberto Gonzales steps down, all three of the Justice Department’s top positions will also be filled by “acting” officials.
“The Arctic ice cap is melting faster than scientists had expected and will shrink 40 percent by 2050 in most regions, with grim consequences for polar bears, walruses and other marine animals,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Yesterday, the Senate “brushed past Bush administration protests and passed legislation containing big budget increases for medical care for veterans.” The Veterans Affairs budget bill, passed by a 92-1 vote, would give the department a 10 percent increase for its health care accounts next year.
“More than 260 doctors from around the world have launched an unprecedented attack on the American medical establishment for its failure to condemn unethical practices by medical practitioners at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba.”
And finally: “Even for someone as gaffe-prone as U.S. President George W. Bush, he was in rare form on Friday.” He thanked Australia for hosting the OPEC — instead of APEC — summit, even though Australia has never been a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. He also brought up the “Austrian troops in Iraq,” even though there are Australian, but not Austrian, troops serving there.
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