78 U.S. Dead: October Already Third-Deadliest Month in Iraq - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/22/06

78 U.S. Dead: October Already Third-Deadliest Month in Iraq

A senior U.S. State Department diplomat told Arab satellite network Al Jazeera that there is a strong possibility history will show the United States displayed "arrogance" and "stupidity" in its handling of the Iraq war.

Alberto Fernandez, director of the Office of Press and Public Diplomacy in the Bureau of Near East Affairs, made his comments on Saturday to the Qatar-based network.

"History will decide what role the United States played," he told Al Jazeera in Arabic, based on CNN translations. "And God willing, we tried to do our best in Iraq."

"But I think there is a big possibility ... for extreme criticism and because undoubtedly there was arrogance and stupidity from the United States in Iraq," the diplomat told Al Jazeera.

"I can only assume his remarks must have been mistranslated. Those comments obviously don't reflect our policy," a senior Bush administration official said.

Fernandez told CNN that he was "not dissing U.S. policy."

"I know what the policy is and what the red lines are, and nothing I said hasn't been said before by senior officials.

"Nothing I said during this interview broke new ground," the diplomat told CNN.

Fernandez referred to a speech made by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in March in Blackburn, England.

"I am quite certain there are going to be dissertations written about the mistakes of the Bush administration," Rice said.

"I know we've made tactical errors, thousands of them, I'm sure," Rice said. "But when you look back in history, what will be judged" is whether the "right strategic decision" was made.

Fernandez's comments came as President Bush gathered his senior generals to discuss changes to strategy in Iraq, where violence has spiked in recent days.

In his weekly Saturday radio address, Bush said the U.S. military's strategy on the ground is under constant review.

But he emphasized: "There is one thing we will not do: We will not pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete."

In the Democratic radio response to Bush's Saturday radio address, Diane Farrell, who is seeking the seat of GOP Rep. Chris Shays in Connecticut, urged Bush to fire Rumsfeld and for Congress to establish benchmarks for Iraqi officials, The Associated Press reported.

Calling for a "new direction in Iraq," Farrell said: "An arbitrary departure date could be dangerous, but real goals for the new Iraqi government and its army are necessary."

The White House talks were held two days after Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said the United States was having to rethink its plan to make Baghdad safer amid an upsurge in violence he said could be linked to Ramadan and November's U.S. congressional election.

Deadly October

U.S.-led coalition forces killed five suspected terrorists and wounded a sixth in an airstrike early Sunday, a U.S. military statement said.

The coalition forces "observed a group of terrorists digging a hole in a road near Arab Jabour ... while one individual stood watch," the statement said. The airstrike "with precision fires" was launched after they witnessed the terrorists placing a bomb into the freshly dug hole.

Meanwhile, three U.S. Marines were killed by enemy action in Anbar province Saturday, the U.S. military said.

The deaths bring the October death toll to 78, the highest U.S. monthly total this year. Seventy-six troops were killed in April. A total of 2,784 troops have been killed in the war.

Seven American contractors of the military also have died.

Source: CNN, AP

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