2A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, December 1, 2005
Bush refuses to
set exit schedule
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Presi-
dent Bush gave an unflinching defense
of his war strategy yesterday, refusing
to set a timetable for U.S. troop with-
drawals and asserting that once-shaky
Iraqi troops are proving increasingly
capable. Democrats dismissed his
words as a stay-the-course speech
with no real strategy for success.
Bush recalled that some Iraqi secu-
rity forces once ran from battle, and
he said their performance "is still
uneven in some parts." But he also
said improvements have been made
in training and Iraqi units are grow-
ing more independent and controlling
"This will take time and patience,"
said Bush, who is under intense polit-
ical pressure as U.S. military deaths
in the war rise beyond 2,100 and his
popularity sits at the lowest point of
Bush's speech at the U.S. Naval
Academy, the first of at least three
he'll give between now and the Dec.
15 Iraqi elections, did not outline a
new strategy for the nearly three-
year-old war. Rather, it was intended
as a comprehensive answer to mount-
ing criticism and questions. Billed as
a major address, it brought together in
a single package the administration's
arguments for the war and assertions
of progress on military, economic
and political tracks.
The address was accompanied by
the release of a White House docu-
ment titled "Our National Strategy
for Victory in Iraq" - a report that
House Democratic leader Nancy
Pelosi dismissed as "35 pages of rhet-
oric on old sound bites." Sen. Edward
Kennedy (D-Mass), called Bush's
speech "lipstick" on a failed Iraqi
strategy. "If things on the ground
in Iraq are as rosy as the picture
the president painted today, then we
should be able to begin to bring our
troops home in 2006," he said.
Bush spoke to a friendly audience
of midshipmen. They welcomed the
president by singing him the Navy
fight song. At the end, they chanted
in unison, "Fire it up! Fire it up!"
The president said the U.S. mili-
tary's role in Iraq will shift from pro-
viding security and fighting the enemy
nationwide to more specialized opera-
tions targeted at the most dangerous
terrorists. "We will increasingly move
out of Iraqi cities, reduce the number
of bases from which we operate and
conduct fewer patrols and convoys,"
the president said.
Still, Bush remained steadfastly
opposed to imposing a deadline for
"Many advocating an artificial
timetable for withdrawing our troops
are sincere - but I believe they're
sincerely wrong," Bush said. "Pull-
ing our troops out before they've
achieved their purpose is not a plan
Senate Democratic leader Harry
A protester stands with a sign that reads, "Stay what course?" as one of
the presidential helicopters arrives yesterday.
Reid of Nevada called on the presi-
dent to release a strategy that has
military, economic and political
benchmarks that must be met. "Sim-
ply staying the course is no longer an
option," Reid said. "We must change
Bush was ready for that.
"If by 'stay the course' they mean
we will not permit al-Qaida to turn
Iraq into what Afghanistan was under
the Taliban - a safe haven for terror-
ism and a launching pad for attacks on
America - they're right," Bush said.
"If by 'stay the course' they mean
that we're not learning from our
experiences or adjusting our tactics
to meet the challenges on the ground,
then they're flat wrong."
There are about 160,000 U.S.
troops in Iraq. The Pentagon has not
committed to any specific drawdown
next year beyond the announced plan
to pull back 28,000 troops who were
added this fall for extra security dur-
ing the election.
NEWS IN BRIEF ~
Peres quits to campaign for Sharon
Bitter over his ouster as Labor Party chief, Shimon Peres quit his politi-
cal home of six decades yesterday to campaign for Ariel Sharon's new
party, saying the prime minister is the best choice to lead Israel to peace
with the Palestinians.
Peres's defection was an important coup for Sharon in the scramble
by the major parties to recruit high-profile supporters during a political
realignment the past three weeks as the country prepares for parliamentary
elections in March.
Many Israelis respect Peres, an 82-year-old former prime minister, as an elder
statesman and peacemaker, but they remain wary of his dovish politics.
His resignation from Labor could contribute to the view that he is a
political opportunist. Peres also brings with him a reputation as a peren-
nial loser at the polls who led Labor to five electoral defeats and lost a race
this month to lead the party into a sixth election.
Alto advocates gradual Roe reversal
As a young government lawyer opposed to abortion rights, Samuel Alito
argued for a strategy of chipping away at the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme
Court ruling legalizing abortion rather than mounting an all-out assault like-
ly to inflict a defeat on the Reagan administration, according to documents
"No one seriously believes that the court is about to overrule Roe v. Wade;"
the current Supreme Court nominee wrote in an internal Justice Department
memo on May 30, 1985. Referring to a high court decision to review two abor-
tion-related cases at the time, he asked, "What can be made of this opportunity
to advance the goals of bringing about the eventual overruling ... and in the
meantime, of mitigating its effects."
The memo was among several hundred pages of documents dating from Ali-
to's 1981-1987 tenure in the Justice Department, released on the day the Supreme
Court heard arguments in an abortion case for the first time in five years.
Doctors in France perform facial transplant
Doctors in France said they had performed the world's first partial face trans-
plant, forging into a risky medical frontier with their operation on a woman disfig-
ured by a dog bite.
The 38-year-old woman, who wants to remain anonymous, had a nose, lips anrd
chin grafted onto her face from a brain-dead donor whose family gave consent.
The operation, performed Sunday, included a surgeon already famous for trans-
plant breakthroughs, Dr. Jean-Michel Dubernard.
"The patient's general condition is excellent and the transplant looks normal,"
said a statement issued yesterday from the hospital in the northern city of Amiens
where the operation took place. Dubernard would not discuss the surgery, but con-
firmed that it involved the nose, lips and chin.
"We still don't know when the patient will get out," he said. A news conference
is planned for Friday.
U.S. and Iraqi troops unite to sweep city
U.S. and Iraqi troops launched a joint operation yesterday in an area west
of Baghdad used to rig car bombs, while American soldiers rounded up 33
suspected insurgents in a sweep of southern parts of the capital.
About 500 Iraqi troops joined 2,000 U.S. Marines, soldiers and sailors in a
move to clear insurgents from an area on the eastern side of the Euphrates river
near Hit, 85 miles west of Baghdad, the U.S. command said in a statement.
In Saadah, eight miles from the Syrian border, Iraqi soldiers were seen
questioning a man as he knelt on a carpet in his home, while U.S. Marines led
blindfolded and handcuffed detainees along a dirt road to a waiting vehicle.
The offensive came as President Bush said he hopes to shift more of the mili-
tary burden onto the Iraqis as part of a strategy to draw down American forces.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
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Court sees first abortion case in 5 years
New Hampshire law requiring
parent notification before abortions
in front of U.S. Supreme Court
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court
wrestled yesterday with a New Hampshire law that
requires a parent to be told before a daughter ends
her pregnancy, with no hint the justices were ready
for a dramatic retreat on abortion rights under
their new chief.
The court is dealing with its first abortion case
in five years, as well as the first in the brief tenure
of Chief Justice John Roberts.
The case does not challenge the 1973 Roe v.
Wade ruling that declared abortion a fundamen-
tal constitutional right, and the justices seemed to
be seeking a compromise that would avoid break-
ing new ground.
Several said the law was flawed because it
requires that a parent be informed 48 hours before
a minor child has an abortion but makes no excep-
tion for a medical emergency that threatens the
At the same time, the court appeared unhappy
with lower court decisions that blocked the law
from being enforced at all.
"This case doesn't involve an emergency situa-
tion," Roberts said.
The stakes are significant since the ruling could
signal where the high court is headed under Rob-
erts and after the retirement of Justice Sandra Day
Abortion was a prominent subject in Roberts's
confirmation hearings and has emerged as a major
issue in President Bush's nomination of appeals court
Judge Samuel Alito to replace O'Connor, who has
been the swing vote in support of abortion rights.
Protesters demonstrated outside - singing,
chanting and praying - and the argument inside
the court was at times contentious, too, with jus-
tices talking over each other and over the lawyers.
New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte
struggled to field sharp questions on why state law-
makers had made an exception to allow abortions
when a young mother's life - but not her health
- was in danger. The court has held that abortion
restrictions should include a health exception.
Doctors would fear being prosecuted or sued
if they performed an abortion on a severely sick
minor who did not want to notify a parent, several
"That's the real problem here for the doctor who's
on the line," said Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The law allows a judge to waive the require-
ment, and Justice Antonin Scalia said: "It takes
30 seconds to place a phone call."
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