Bush preserves big troop level in Iraq
By JENNIFER LOVEN, Associated Press Writer
1 minute ago
|WASHINGTON – President Bush’s claim that progress in Iraq justifies preserving a large U.S. military presence there for at least 10 more months was shadowed by discouraging developments on the security and political fronts.
Friday morning, 12 hours after Bush’s address to the nation, the White House was to report that Iraqi leaders had gained almost no new ground in meeting U.S. benchmarks on bringing about reconciliation and stability. The report being sent to Congress by the White House underscored the difficulty of Bush’s argument that American sacrifice was creating space for political progress by Iraqis.
Other bad news hit 12 hours before Bush’s speech, when Iraqi police reported the assassination in Anbar province of a prominent figure in a local alliance with U.S. troops against al-Qaida. It was a sharp blow to Bush’s frequent celebration of military gains in that region as a model for the rest of the country.