Rumsfeld, Bush attack criticism of war policy

November 21, 2005|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON -- President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld took on congressional critics of their Iraq war policy yesterday, saying that U.S. troops would remain until the Baghdad government was ready to take charge and that those calling for a hasty withdrawal were jeopardizing the safety of Americans abroad and at home.

"An immediate withdrawal of our troops from Iraq will only strengthen the terrorists' hand in Iraq and in the broader war on terror," Bush told reporters in Beijing.

Rumsfeld concurred, telling CNN's Late Edition - one of four shows on which he appeared yesterday - that a withdrawal anytime soon "would be a terrible thing for our country and for the safety of our people."

The president's comments came at the end of his weeklong visit to Asia, during which he and his administration were dogged by increasingly combative questions about Iraq and as approval ratings for Bush and his war policies continued to sink.

The White House and congressional Republicans late last week leveled attacks on a respected pro-military Democratic lawmaker after he said that he no longer supported the war policy and called for an immediate phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

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