Poll: 58 percent want Iraq withdrawal by 2008 or sooner

Nearly six in 10 Americans want to see U.S. troops leave Iraq either immediately or within a year, and more would rather have Congress running U.S. policy in the conflict than President Bush, according to a CNN poll out Tuesday.

Though support for Bush's decision to dispatch additional troops to Iraq grew to 37 percent -- up from 32 percent in a mid-January poll -- a slim majority of 52 percent say Congress should block funding for the new deployment.

The CNN poll was conducted Friday through Sunday by Opinion Research Corp. Pollsters interviewed 1,027 adults for the survey, which had a sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Bush announced in January that he was deploying another 21,500 U.S. troops to Iraq to crack down on the country's sectarian warfare and the Sunni Arab insurgency in the country's west.

The White House approved the deployment of another 4,400 support troops over the weekend, largely to handle an expected increase in the number of Iraqi prisoners.

The decision remains unpopular, according to the latest poll, but opposition has declined since Bush announced it. This week's survey found that 59 percent opposed the president's plan, down from 66 percent in a January 11 poll, and support for it had grown from 32 percent to 37 percent.

Tuesday's poll found most Americans support a withdrawal from Iraq, with 21 percent wanting an immediate pullout and 37 percent saying troops should be home within a year. Another 39 percent said the troops should stay in Iraq as long as needed.

They were more closely divided on the issue of funding the president's so-called "New Way Forward," with 52 percent saying Congress should block funds for additional troops and 43 percent opposing such a move.

The Democratic leadership in Congress has opposed the deployment, with the support of a handful of Bush's fellow Republicans. But efforts to use congressional control over spending to rein in the president have split the Democrats, particularly in the House of Representatives.

Democratic leaders plan to add a demand for withdrawal by fall 2008 -- or by the end of this year, if Bush is unable to show that the Iraqi government is meeting benchmarks for political progress -- to the president's emergency request for an additional $100 billion in war spending.

In a speech Monday to the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, Vice President Dick Cheney said even discussing withdrawal tells "the enemy to watch the clock and wait us out."

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, shot back that Cheney and Bush are advocating an "open-ended commitment" of U.S. troops against the advice of military leaders.

The White House and congressional Republicans have warned Democratic leaders against plans that would "micromanage" U.S. commanders in Iraq.

But the latest survey finds Americans more receptive to having Congress take the lead, with 47 percent saying the lawmakers should be "primarily responsible" for setting war policy. Thirty-three percent said the president should be primarily responsible for setting the country's course.

Source: CNN Newsource