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U.S. Papers: NSC Discuss Troops and Aid
December Casualties Up; Saddam to Hang Saturday?
By SETH SMITH 12/29/2006 03:59 AM ET
The NYT and WP both have stories about the President Bush's Thursday meeting with the NSC. The Times story is focused on security while the Post stresses possible economic initiatives. Pinpointing the expected number of additional troops to be sent to Baghdad and environs as between 17,000 and 20,000, the Times sources say they will not be involved in training Iraqi soldiers and police. Economic initiatives like micro-lending and short-term employment, seen by some at the meeting as the most promising idea on the table, are thought by others to be of limited utility, particularly after four years of a faltering economy. The new Iraq strategy will be unveiled in early January.

NEW YORK TIMES

James Glanz has a "senior administration official" saying Saddam Hussein's hanging is expected on Saturday. That said, no advance notice will be given, and no press will be allowed to attend the event. Iraq's Constitution requires that the Iraqi president and his two deputies sign all execution orders; officials said that it was unlikely that legal formalities would stand in the way.

Reporting from Baghdad, Marc Santora has news of the capture of a man believed to be behind the June kidnapping, torture and killing of two U.S. soldiers. The suspect was apprehended in Yusufiya by US and Iraqi forces.

Michael Luo has an interesting look at Iraq's housing crisis, compounded by landlords eager to raise rents in the wake of the 2003 invasion and more recently by the rampant sectarian violence engulfing Baghdad and other areas. New housing units are going unbuilt due to the security situation, leaving many to reside in ramshackle encampments.

C.J. Chivers returns to the story of Dustin E. Kirby, a navy corpsman profiled earlier this year following his efforts to save a fellow soldier. Kirby himself was severely wounded on Christmas Day.

An editorial bemoans the trial and death sentence of Saddam Hussein as another missed opportunity in a war filled with them. The editorial points to the recent British raid in Basra as proof that law enforcement and justice have not improved as much as they should have since the 2003 invasion.

WASHINGTON POST

The number of U.S. military deaths this December has crept up to 100, reports Nancy Trejos. Most died in Anbar and the cause of most deaths was roadside bombs.

Joe Lieberman becomes the latest guest columnist to support a troop increase, positing a wider regional war between Iranian-led extremists and U.S.-backed moderates.

The Post runs an editorial in support of Saddam Hussein's death sentence, noting that while the trial was far from perfect, the guilty verdict was never in doubt.

USA TODAY

Susan Page and David Jackson take a look at Bush's legislative prospects for the next two years with Iraq and lame duck status looming in the background.

WALL STREET JOURNAL

Columnist Daniel Henninger writes about Spirit of America and the Business Council for Peace, two groups working to support the reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan, with mixed results. Many of the groups' projects have been destroyed in the fighting, particularly in Iraq.

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR

Nothing.

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