News Wrap: U.S. Open to Delay Iraq Troop Drawdown, Gates Says
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HARI SREENIVASAN: The U.S. may be open to keeping American troops in Iraq past the end of 2011, the current deadline for withdrawal. Defense Secretary Robert Gates suggested today the timetable could slide, but he went on to say, “The initiative clearly needs to come from the Iraqis.”
Gates also urged Iraq’s political factions to end eight months of deadlock and form a new government.
In Afghanistan, NATO reported two more service members have been killed. One died in a bombing today in the south. The other was killed Monday in the east.
A new survey finds a strong majority of Afghans favor peace talks with the Taliban. The poll was conducted by the Asia Foundation and funded in part by the U.S. government. More than 80 percent backed negotiations with the Taliban, but more than half also said they have no sympathy for the insurgents.
Current and former employees at the CIA will not face criminal charges for destroying videotapes of water-boarding. The Justice Department announced the decision today. The CIA has acknowledged having 92 videos that showed two al-Qaida operatives, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Nashiri, being water-boarded. The videos were destroyed five years ago.
A probe continues into whether the simulated drownings itself was outside the law.
Farooque Ahmed, a Virginia man, pleaded not guilty today to an alleged plot to bomb subway stations around Washington, D.C. Ahmed was arrested last month in an FBI sting. Authorities say he thought he was conspiring with al-Qaida militants, but was in fact dealing with undercover agents. He allegedly provided them with scouting reports and videos of subway stations.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office found several speeches and C.D.s from anti-American Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki during a search of Ahmed’s home.
On Wall Street, stocks fell for a second day. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 60 points to close at 11346. The Nasdaq fell 17 points to close below 2563.
Those are some of the day’s major stories.