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Poll Finds Dwindling War Support

The public continues to grow more critical of the war in Iraq, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll. For the first time, a majority of Americans (51 percent) say the U.S. should have stayed out of Iraq. Another 45 percent say going to war was the right thing to do.

In other findings, 56 percent of Americans say the war is going badly for the U.S., up from 36 percent a year ago. And nearly two-third of Americans (62 percent) say the war has not been worth the cost.

The poll also found that 60 percent of Americans think the U.S. should not attack another country unless it attacks first. Thirty-three percent say the U.S. should strike first if it believes another country may attack it.

Thirty-four percent of Americans think Iraqis are safer now than an interim government is in place. Another 12 percent believe Iraqis are less safe, while 48 percent don't see any change.

Prior to the handover, only 16 percent of Americans expected Iraqis to be safer with the transfer of power.

In other developments:

  • Iraq's interim prime minister Iyad Allawi warned of violent days ahead and pleaded for after the Philippines pulled troops to save a hostage. Allawi said he expects insurgents to strike harder in the coming weeks and announced the creation of a new intelligence service designed specifically to combat terrorism
  • The Philippines took more steps to meet the demands of the kidnappers of a Filipino truck driver, announcing that it will pull out the head of its mission in Iraq and 10 other troops on Friday.
  • The widespread intelligence failures about Iraq underscore the problem with the doctrine of pre-emptive war, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said.
  • Iraqi authorities have forcibly removed members of Muqtada al-Sadr's hardline Shiite militia from a building they were illegally occupying, the U.S. military said Friday.
  • It could be weeks or months before a Marine who disappeared in Iraq and later turned up in Lebanon is deemed fit to return to duty, a spokesman said. Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun arrived at Quantico Marine base on Thursday after leaving Germany, where he had undergone six days of evaluation at a U.S. military hospital.
  • L. Paul Bremer, the former head of the U.S.-led occupation in Iraq, may testify about prison abuse at a congressional hearing next week, while more cases of possible mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners have come to Congress' attention and need investigation by the Pentagon, a lawmaker said.

    Allawi's government has talked increasingly tough about tackling the insurgents. It passed emergency laws giving Allawi sweeping powers to combat the violence, and police have conducted sweeps of terror suspects in Baghdad and other cities.

    Those actions may have spurred the insurgents to launch a series of attacks in recent days, Allawi said.

    "They know that they should not give us a chance to rebuild our capabilities — security, police and the army. So they want to undermine our efforts," Allawi told The Associated Press on Thursday. They will "hit harder in the weeks ahead, and maybe even months ahead."

    Scores of people have been killed in suicide bombings, shootings, car bombs and roadside assaults since the transfer of sovereignty from U.S. occupation officials to the interim government on June 28. Many of the attacks have targeted U.S. soldiers and Iraqi security forces. At least 38 U.S. troops have died since the handover.

    In a news conference earlier Thursday, Allawi announced the creation of a new intelligence service, the General Security Directorate, which will focus on defeating the insurgency. The directorate "will annihilate those terrorist groups, God willing," he said.

    Despite the ferocity and number of attacks in recent days, most coalition countries said Thursday they're standing firm.

    Italy, whose contingent of 3,000 troops is the third-largest in Iraq, has no plans to pull out. Neither does Poland, with 2,500 soldiers; Romania, with 730 infantry and military police; Denmark, with 500 troops; Hungary, with 300; nor the Czech Republic and Slovakia, with about 100 each.

    "An honorable country stays true to its undertakings," said Portugal's incoming foreign minister, Antonio Monteiro, summing up the stoicism of many member nations. Portugal has 120 police officers in Iraq.

    Still, the Philippines' decision this week to withdraw its 51 peacekeepers in an effort to save the life of a kidnapped truck driver dealt a dramatic, if mostly symbolic, blow to the coalition. The international contingent already was weakened by Spain's pullout after deadly terrorist train bombings in Madrid.

    In a new message to the kidnappers of Philippine hostage Angelo dela Cruz, Foreign Secretary Delia Albert said 11 soldiers were leaving for home Friday. On Wednesday, Albert said force strength was already down to 43.

    The militants who captured dela Cruz said they would release him if the Philippines withdraws all of its 51 troops from Iraq by the end of the month, according to a statement read on Al-Jazeera on Thursday.

    Al-Jazeera broadcast a video showing dela Cruz, who was not in the bright orange garment he wore in previous videos — an apparent sign that he is no longer under threat of death.

    The Bush administration, which has struggled to get more countries to help secure Iraq, criticized the Filipino government and warned it might pay a price for caving in.

    Bulgaria's government, despite working desperately to win the freedom of a captive Bulgarian truck driver after another driver reportedly was killed this week, rebuffed calls at home to pull out its 480 troops.

    Its stance angered lawmakers and citizens who have been clamoring for a quick withdrawal so more Bulgarians aren't targeted.

    "To avoid future situations in which Bulgarians are being kidnapped in Iraq, we have to pull out our troops," said lawmaker Andrei Pantev.