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Daily Column
U.S. Papers Wednesday: Saddam to Hang
Biden Denounces Surge
By SETH SMITH 12/27/2006 02:24 AM ET
The NYT, WP, USA Today and WSJ all lead with an Iraqi appeals court's upholding Saddam Hussein's death sentence for his role in the 1982 deaths of 148 men and boys in Dujail. Hussein and at least two co-defendants are expected to hang before January 27, 2008. There is a slim chance that Hussein's sentence will be commuted by President Jalal Talabani or one of his vice presidents. The WP has the best details on Iraqi government deliberations about logistics of the execution. The prevailing sentiment can best be described as "the sooner the better."

The NYT, WP, USA Today and WSJ all also have stories about Democratic Senator Joe Biden's coming out against a troop increase. Biden, the incoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair and probable 2008 candidate for president, will hold three weeks of hearings on Iraq beginning in early January. The Delaware Senator continues to advocate the"soft partition" of Iraq The Times also reports that Arlen Specter on Tuesday became the first Republican Senator to meet Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.


Sabrina Tavernise has more details on the Iranians detained in Iraq last week. The U.S. says it has linked two of the captured Iranians, described as "senior military officials, to attacks on coalition forces. The two were captured inside a compound maintained by Abdel Aziz Al Hakim, the SCIRI leader that met with President Bush three weeks ago. Needless to say, many questions remain.


Nancy Trejos reports on U.S. combat deaths in December, pegged to the military's Tuesday announcement of seven more deaths. So far, 87 troops have died this month. December is the second deadliest month in 2006 for US troops, trailing only October, during which 105 died. Military officials contribute the high totals to increased operations in Baghdad and the persistence of resistance in Anbar province. Trejos' article also runs down violence in Baghdad on Tuesday, which left at least 54 Iraqis dead.

Andrea Bruce goes on foot patrol with U.S. troops in Ramadi, offering a quick look at the daily struggle for survival and the troops' tactics that have so antagonized the city's population. The online version of the article includes a collection of photos taken by Bruce.

Jack Keane and Frederick Kagan opine that a successful surge will require 30,000 additional troops for at least 18 months. They write that a shorter surge will invite insurgents and militiamen to simply wait out the onslaught. While providing detailed reasoning as to why 30,000 troops are needed, the writers fail to reveal why Iraq's violent groups can wait out a short but not a long surge.

David Ignatius compares Bush to a reality show contestant and to an earlier generation of Washington politicians serving during Vietnam, eventually coming to the conclusion that Bush will be judged by history.


See above.


An editorial supports the Iraqi Court of Appeals' decision to uphold Saddam Hussein's death sentence, making the case that Saddam's punishment is the legitimate will of the Iraqi people.




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