Bush: Troops At Current Levels

ellen degeneres
President Bush, trying to dispel rising doubts about the war, declared the United States would stay in Iraq until it was free and democratic, but he also said insurgents probably would become "more active and more brutal" and suggested more U.S. soldiers might have to be sent.

He said that the United States would keep its troop level at the current 138,000 as long as necessary but that commanders were constantly reassessing needs. "If they need more troops, I will send them," pledged Mr. Bush.

In a primetime address Monday night at the U.S. Army War College, he also promised to demolish the Abu Ghraib prison that has become an ugly symbol of the U.S. occupation.

He spoke for slightly over 30 minutes. The speech came as the president's poll approval rating has slipped to its lowest ever - down to 41 percent, with 52 percent disapproving - according to a CBS News poll.

With nearly 800 U.S. soldiers killed so far in Iraq, Bush warned that the violence would continue.

"There are difficult days ahead and the way forward may sometimes appear chaotic," he said.

In other developments:

  • An explosion destroyed a civilian car with armor plating Monday near an entrance to the headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition in Baghdad, killing four people, the military said. The British Foreign Office said the blast killed two British citizens
  • A new CBS News poll finds that 61 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Mr. Bush is handling the situation in Iraq, while just 34 percent approve.
  • The United States and Britain presented a new U.N. resolution Monday that would transfer ``governing authority'' in Iraq to a sovereign interim government by June 30 and authorize a multinational force to maintain peace with Iraq consent.
  • NBC's Tim Russert and a journalist from Time Inc. have received federal subpoenas to face questioning about the alleged leak of the identity of an undercover CIA weapons expert whose husband exposed a flaw in the White House rationale for invading Iraq.
  • More than 5,500 Iraqis died violently in just Baghdad and three provinces in the first 12 months of the occupation, an Associated Press survey found. The toll from both criminal and political violence ran dramatically higher than violent deaths before the war, according to statistics from morgues.
  • The military intelligence unit that ran interrogations at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison had earlier served at a U.S. detention facility in Afghanistan where two prisoners died, according to a newspaper.

    Five months before the U.S. presidential election, Iraq has helped push down President Bush's approval rating to a new low and has increased doubts about his handling of the war.

    Monday night, Mr. Bush outlined five steps he says will help Iraq achieve democracy and freedom: transferring authority to a sovereign new Iraqi government, helping establish security in areas still gripped by chaos, urging broader international support, reconstructing the country and setting up national elections.

    "Completing the five steps to Iraqi elected self-government will not be easy," said Mr. Bush. "There is likely to be violence before the transfer of sovereignty and after the transfer of sovereignty."

    He talked of the assassination this month of the president of the Iraqi Governing Council, Izzadine Saleem, and the beheading of American civilian Nicholas Berg. But he continued to express his resolve, saying, "No power of the enemy will stop Iraq's progress."

    He said coalition forces and Iraqis have the same enemies — terrorists, illegal militia and loyalists of Saddam Hussein. "Working as allies, we will defend Iraq and defeat these enemies," he said.