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Administration pushes to gather backing for transition

By wire services
Published May 24, 2004

WASHINGTON - President Bush prepared Sunday for a campaign to rally support at the United Nations for his policies in Iraq, while senior envoys struggled in Baghdad with competing demands by Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds for the top positions of the new caretaker government, American, Iraqi and U.N. officials said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell spent Sunday in telephone conversations with envoys on the U.N. Security Council, which could get an American draft of its resolution on Iraq as early as today.

The resolution, critical to the administration's attempts to make the United Nations more involved in Iraq, is expected to call for international donations and troops to stabilize and reconstruct the country. It is also supposed to define any limitations on Iraq's sovereignty after the transfer of power June 30. The overture to the United Nations comes as Bush is preparing a speech for tonight at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., and amid sagging poll results for the president at home.

The New York Times, quoting an unnamed administration official, reported that Bush will explain to Americans and people around the world that the United States has a plan to overcome the security problems and the political impasse in Iraq.

The selection of government leaders is being overseen by Lakhdar Brahimi, a special U.N. envoy, who has been working closely with Robert Blackwill, a former U.S. ambassador to India who is now Bush's special envoy in Iraq. They have set a deadline for the end of May.

32 Iraqi insurgents killed in coalition raid on Kufa

KUFA, Iraq - U.S. and Iraqi forces raided a Kufa mosque Sunday where they said insurgents stored weapons, and the military said at least 32 fighters loyal to a radical Shiite cleric were killed during the first American incursion into the holy city.

U.S. troops also clashed with militiamen loyal to cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in a Shiite district of Baghdad and in Najaf, the twin city of Kufa. Nine U.S. soldiers were wounded Sunday around Baghdad, the military said, including four injured in a mortar attack in the east of the capital.

In another holy city, Karbala, militia fighters appeared to have abandoned their positions after weeks of combat.

A U.S. Marine was killed in a car bombing near Fallujah, a center of the separate Sunni Muslim insurgency in the central and northern areas of the country.

Sanchez's role in prison abuse scandal at issue

WASHINGTON - The top American general in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, rejected a recommendation in January that the military make a public, Arabic-language radio or TV address to the Iraqi people to address allegations of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison, the former head of the military police at the prison said Sunday.

The officer, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, also said Sanchez visited a military intelligence unit at Abu Ghraib at least three times in October 2003, when the first of the worst abuses were taking place. And while Sanchez has said he did not learn of the abuses until Jan. 14, Karpinski said his top deputy, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, was present at a meeting in late November 2003 at which there was extensive discussion of a Red Cross report that cited specific cases of abuse.

An article in the Washington Post on Sunday cited a statement from a military lawyer that a captain at the prison had placed Sanchez at the scene of some "interrogations and/or allegations of the prisoner abuse."

But a spokesman for Sanchez, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, described that report Sunday as "false," and said the general "stands by his testimony before congressional committees" that he did not learn of the abuses until Jan. 14. And the statements by the captain, Donald Reese, that were referred to in the Post article contradicted his sworn testimony to Army investigators in January. When the investigators asked Reese if the "chain of command" was aware of abuse, he said "no."

Karpinski, commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade, said she volunteered during a meeting with Sanchez about Jan. 23 to make an address to the Iraqi people about the prison abuse. Karpinski said Sanchez responded to her recommendation by saying something like, "No, absolutely not - we're handling this."

Kimmitt said he could not comment directly on the meeting between Sanchez and Karpinski, because he had not been present.

Also . . .

ZINNI BOOK: Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former U.S. commander of U.S. Central Command, charges in a book to be published today that "everyone in the military knew" that the Bush administration's plan for Iraq consisted of only half the troops that were needed, and says that country is now "a powder keg" that could break apart into warring regions. The book, Battle Ready, is by novelist Tom Clancy, with Zinni and Tony Koltz.

Bush on TV

TIME: 8-9 tonight


UNDECIDED: Major broadcast networks

[Last modified May 24, 2004, 01:00:32]

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