Rumsfeld hints that 2006 may see troop reduction

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals Rumsfeld made his comments between closed-door meetings on Capitol Hill with House members, part of an effort by the Bush administration to communicate better with Congress about the war. Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also attended. Facing diminishing public support on Iraq and pressure from constituents, lawmakers from both parties have complained that the administration must give them more information on Iraq. Later, Republican lawmakers went to the White House to hear from President George W. Bush, Rumsfeld, Pace, the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad and top military commanders in Iraq. White House press secretary Scott McClellan said more briefings were planned for next week, and would include Democrats as well as Republicans from the House and Senate. McClellan also rebuffed critics of Bush’s war policy, saying there was “disarray and disagreement” in the Democratic Party over how and when to get out of Iraq. WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday that he expects some 20,000 U.S. troops to return home from Iraq after next week’s elections, and he suggested that some of the remaining 137,000 forces could pull out next year. “If conditions permit, we could go below that,” he said in the latest administration hint of at least a modest reduction next year. The Pentagon chief also said he believed that the White House and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would “end up working something out” during negotiations over legislation standardizing interrogation techniques and banning mistreatment of foreign terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. Congressional bargainers were nearing completion of a defense bill that is expected to include the McCain provisions, and aides said votes on the measure could come next week. Still, GOP leaders haven’t blessed the bill because they are awaiting the result of White House negotiations with McCain. In New York, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said, “The current administration confuses examination of failed policies with an admission of weakness, and debate with division,” resulting in the lack of a real debate to “forge a winning strategy for America.” Kerry also said the United States must reduce its forces in Iraq by “at least 100,000” by the end of 2006, leaving a force of 30,000 to 40,000. For his part, Rumsfeld said if next week’s elections in Iraq go well he expects U.S. troop levels, which were boosted to nearly 160,000 this fall for elections, to return to the 137,000 level of summer. “The hope is that the conditions will permit some drawdowns in troops,” he said. The Pentagon chief said the number of forces could fall below 137,000 next year depending on conditions, the recommendation of senior U.S. commanders and the president’s final determination. On the issue of detainee treatment, Rumsfeld said negotiations between the White House and McCain were continuing. The White House hopes to reach a compromise that would satisfy administration concerns. “I haven’t seen the latest draft, but my guess is they’ll end up working something out,” Rumsfeld said. The Senate overwhelmingly supports the provisions and included them in its two defense measures. The House measures omit the provisions, and congressional negotiators are trying to work out final bills. A top House Republican negotiator on one bill, Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter of El Cajon, Calif., appeared willing to accept the McCain provisions unchanged. But negotiators were still trying to iron out differences over a Senate- passed provision on prosecuting detainees at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Hunter wants to further limit the way they can challenge their detention. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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