White House explains Bush troop withdrawal decision

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House says President Bush thinks he "hit it just right" in announcing a withdrawal of 8,000 troops from Iraq by February.

Bush press secretary Dana Perino says the president was looking to draw down forces in a way that wouldn't put security at risk in Iraq. She says Bush sees the Pentagon's recommendation of cutting troops by 8,000 as "about the right size." And she adds that people would question any decision the president made on troop levels.

In his announcement today, Bush said more U.S. forces could be withdrawn in the first half of 2009 if conditions improve in Iraq. But that decision will be left up to the next president.

Democrats have criticized the move, saying deeper cuts are needed so more forces can be shift to the fight in Afghanistan, where violence has been rising.

About 146,000 U.S. troops are in Iraq.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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