U.S. troops may leave Iraq within 4 years

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld expressed hope yesterday, but did not explicitly predict, that American troops would be out of Iraq by the end of President Bush’s second term.

When a reporter asked whether Rumsfeld believed the troops would be gone before the end of his term, he prefaced his answer by saying he took that to mean four years. Then he said that during his first four years in the Bush administration he had been careful not to make predictions about how long U.S. troops would have to remain in a given country, noting they stayed far longer in Bosnia than the Clinton administration had predicted when they first went in.

Then he added, speaking on whether troops would be out of Iraq within four years: “I would certainly expect that to be the case, hope that to be the case. But the answer to your question is not that. The answer is the president has said they’ll stay as long as they are needed and not a day longer.”

Also today, in central Baghdad, a heavy gunfight broke out on a dangerous street within blocks of the country’s most fortified facilities, including the U.S. embassy and interim Iraqi government headquarters. Five more American troops were killed in the volatile Anbar province.


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico

FBI letter reveals Guantanamo interrogation

FBI agents witnessed “highly aggressive” interrogations and mistreatment of terror suspects at the U.S. prison camp in Cuba starting in 2002 — more than a year before the prison abuse scandal broke in Iraq — according to a letter a senior Justice Department official sent to the Army’s top criminal investigator.

In the letter obtained by The Associated Press, the FBI official suggested the Pentagon didn’t act on FBI complaints about the incidents, including a female interrogator grabbing a detainee’s genitals and bending back his thumbs, another where a prisoner was gagged with duct tape and a third where a dog was used to intimidate a detainee who later was thrown into isolation and showed signs of “extreme psychological trauma.”

One Marine told an FBI observer that some interrogations led to prisoners “curling into a fetal position on the floor and crying in pain,” according to the letter dated July 14, 2004.



Troops who refused orders will remain in Army

Twenty-three Army reservists who refused a dangerous mission to transport fuel in Iraq will face punishments such as extra duties or reduction in rank but won’t be court-martialed, the military said yesterday.

A U.S. soldier appeared in military court to face a murder charge for the death of an Iraqi man in an impoverished Shiite Muslim quarter of Baghdad, scene of clashes between U.S. troops and insurgents this year.

The reservists from the 343rd Quartermaster Company are being disciplined for failing to follow orders under Article 15, which means no court proceedings will be held and the identities of the soldiers involved will not be released, Lt. Col. Steve Boylan said.


KIEV, Ukraine

Ukraine’s leaders reach election compromise

Ukraine’s opposition and pro-government lawmakers tentatively agreed on a compromise yesterday to ensure a fair vote during the re-run later this month of the fraud-ridden presidential runoff and gradually shift some powers from the presidency to parliament.

Ukraine’s outgoing president, Leonid Kuchma, and Russian President Vladimir Putin said they would abide by the results of the new election, removing major question marks surrounding the Dec. 26 rematch. The vote was ordered by the Supreme Court, which last week struck down the election commission decision that Kremlin-backed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych won the Nov. 21 runoff.


— Compiled from Daily wire reports

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