Meanwhile, Back at the (Exploding) Ranch...

Rumsfeld Says U.S. to Cut Iraq Troop Levels

FALLUJAH, Iraq - Just days after Iraq's elections, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Friday announced the first of what is likely to be a series of U.S. combat troop drawdowns in Iraq in 2006.

Rumsfeld, addressing U.S. troops at this former insurgent stronghold, said President Bush has authorized new cuts below the 138,000 level that has prevailed for most of this year.

Rumsfeld did not reveal the exact size of the cut, but the Pentagon said the reductions would be about 7,000 troops, about the size of two combat brigades. The Pentagon has not announced a timetable for troop reductions, but indications are that the force could be cut significantly by the end of 2006.

My, what interesting timing. Those in-the-crapper approval ratings are finally starting to make you bastards nervous, eh? Or is there another reason that you're suddenly getting your shit together?

That could include substantial reductions well before the November midterm congressional elections, in which Bush's war policies seem certain to be a major issue.


Well, at least we can feel confident about this, right? After all, you guys are always insisting that everything's hunky-dory in Iraq, and now that the elections are done, it's a virtual paradise, right? Those purple fingers were the magic wands that made everything there all better, right? Right?

Iraquis March, Say Elections were Rigged

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Large demonstrations broke out across the country Friday to denounce parliamentary elections that protesters called rigged in favor of the main religious Shiite coalition.

In Baghdad, unknown assailants kidnapped a Sudanese diplomat and five other men as they left prayers at a mosque, a spokesman for Sudan's Foreign Ministry said. An Iraqi Foreign Ministry official said he had not heard of the abduction.

As many as 20,000 people demonstrated after noon prayers in southern Baghdad Friday, many carrying banners decrying last week's elections. Many Iraqis outside the religious Shiite coalition allege that the elections were unfair to smaller Sunni Arab and secular Shiite groups.

"We refuse the cheating and forgery in the elections," one banner read.

Sheik Mahmoud al-Sumaidaei of the Association of Muslim Scholars, a major Sunni clerical group, told followers during Friday prayers at Baghdad's Umm al-Qura mosque that they were "living a conspiracy built on lies and forgery."

"You have to be ready during these hard times and combat forgeries and lies for the sake of Islam," he said.

The U.S. military said two soldiers were killed when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb in Baghdad Friday. No other details were released. At least 2,163 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Well, Fuck.

(Like the circles that you the cross-posts of your mind...)

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