- The Washington Times - Monday, September 13, 2004

Top Bush administration officials yesterday said post-Saddam Iraq’s first election will be held on schedule — in January — despite recent insurgencies there.

“There will undoubtedly be violence up until the elections and probably even during the elections, but it is entirely possible to hold these elections,” said Condoleezza Rice, White House national security adviser.

Miss Rice told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the administration has a political and military plan — and four months to deal with the concentrated uprisings.

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell also appeared on most of the Sunday talk shows, deflecting criticism on how the administration is handling the war in Iraq and the recent insurgencies.

“We’re confident of what we’re doing,” Mr. Powell told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We’re confident that we have done the right thing both in Afghanistan and in Iraq. And this is not the time to get weak in the knees or faint about it, but to drive on and finish the work that we’ve started.

“We are dealing with this insurgency. It’s a difficult insurgency to deal with, but in due course, just as we are getting ready to see in Afghanistan, there will be elections in Iraq.”

Central Baghdad was rocked yesterday with mortar and rocket barrages that killed 25 persons. Three Polish soldiers also were killed yesterday during an attack in Hilla.

The number of attacks on military troops has risen inside several cities located in the Sunni triangle, including Fallujah, Ramadi, Samarra and Sadr City in Baghdad. The death toll of Americans reached 1,000 last week .

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the administration does not have a plan to deal with the insurgencies.

“They continue to mislead the American people about the state of affairs. And it’s incredibly, incredibly, incredibly dangerous,” Mr. Biden said.

Hundreds of U.S. forces are needed to set up polling places, and thousands more are needed in security forces. The number of police officers being trained has dropped dramatically from 200,000 to 95,000, Mr. Biden said.

“Stop kidding around about how this is going to somehow move off just smartly come January,” Mr. Biden said.

The Bush administration officials said the interim government and Iraqi military leaders are working together to bring down the insurgency, which “will be brought under control,” Mr. Powell said.

The key to defeating the insurgency is to combine political and military elements, Miss Rice said.

“You have to have a strategy that has both political elements and military elements. In some places, the military element is stronger and the political element subordinate, and in some places, it’s flipped,” Miss Rice said.

“Yes, it’s a violent place. But there are going to be ups and downs. This is a turbulent period in a difficult circumstance. But I’ll tell you, the Iraqis are making political progress every day. And every time they move toward those political milestones, the insurgency has more of a problem.”

• This article is based in part on wire reports

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