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Wednesday, Jul 23rd

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Secrets of 'sexed-up' WMD dossier must be told, watchdog orders ministers

The Information Commissioner ordered civil servants to release undisclosed emails and memos about a draft of the dossier which supposedly set out the threat posed by Saddam Hussein.

Richard Thomas flatly rejected Government claims that the comments - kept under wraps during a three-year legal battle - could jeopardise national security.

He said it was clearly in the public interest to know what alterations to the dossier were proposed in the days before it was published.

This was because the undisclosed material could provide 'evidence that the dossier was deliberately manipulated in order to present an exaggerated case for military action'.

Lord Hutton's inquiry into the death of government scientist Dr David Kelly heard that last-minute changes to the draft were suggested by Tony Blair's spin supremo Alastair Campbell, and subsequently adopted by intelligence chiefs.

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Petraeus: more than troops needed in Afghanistan

U.S. Gen. David Petraeus said Sunday that experience in Iraq shows it will take political and economic progress as well as military action to tackle increased violence in Afghanistan.

"You don't kill or capture your way out of an industrial strength insurgency," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. His comments come as a debate over the need to redeploy troops from Iraq to Afghanistan has become a central issue in the U.S. presidential campaign.

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Iraq: Violence is down – but not because of America's 'surge'

As he leaves Iraq this week, the outgoing US commander, General David Petraeus, is sounding far less optimistic than the Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, about the American situation in Iraq. General Petraeus says that it remains "fragile", recent security gains are "not irreversible" and "this is not the sort of struggle where you take a hill, plant the flag and go home to a victory parade... it's not a war with a simple slogan."

Compare this with Sarah Palin's belief that "victory in Iraq is wholly in sight" and her criticism of Barack Obama for not using the word "victory". The Republican contenders have made these claims of success for the "surge" – the American reinforcements sent last year – although they are demonstrably contradicted by the fact that the US has to keep more troops, some 138,000, in Iraq today than beforehand.

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While Bush Announces 8,000 Troop Withdrawal, Leaked Draft Agreement Calls for Indefinite Occupation

Again, what Nouri al-Maliki is saying is that all U.S. combat troops will leave, but there will be exceptions that will stay in Iraq indefinitely. Now, this view that Mr. al-Maliki is representing in Iraq is completely rejected. Iraqis do not support the idea of half-withdrawal and leaving U.S. troops on the long run. In fact, the full agreement, that can be viewed on my organization's website now, on afsc.org, can show you in details how the U.S. will stay on the long run and who gets to decide the troops level and the troop tasks. It's neither the Iraqi nor the U.S. elected officials.

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US can't kill its way to Afghan victory: Pentagon boss

The top military officer at the Pentagon has told a Congressional committee that US and international forces are not winning the war in Afghanistan.

Admiral Mike Mullens, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says victory in Afghanistan cannot be achieved solely by the military.

"We cannot kill our way to victory," he told the Armed Services Committee.

Admiral Mullens said he was not convinced US and international forces were winning, but he said he believed they could eventually.

"Frankly we're running out of time," he warned.

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US death in Afghanistan makes 2008 deadliest year

Militants attacking a compound in Afghanistan's east killed a U.S. soldier on Thursday, making 2008 the deadliest year yet for American forces in the country that sheltered al-Qaida while the terror group plotted the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Thursday's death brings to 112 the number of troops who have died in Afghanistan this year, surpassing last year's record toll of 111.

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No victory in Iraq, says Petraeus

The outgoing commander of US troops in Iraq, Gen David Petraeus, has said that he will never declare victory there.

In a BBC interview, Gen Petraeus said that recent security gains were "not irreversible" and that the US still faced a "long struggle".

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TVNL Comment:  Has anyone defined 'victory' in Iraq?  Is it when we've depleted the country of all its oil, or when there are no more billion dollar contracts to distribute?  Another hundred years?  Probably...

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