'Secret killing program' in Iraq, says veteran journalist Bob Woodward
The recent decline in violence in Iraq is partly due to a secret US program to target and kill leaders of the insurgency there. So says Washington Post veteran Bob Woodward in his latest book.
The program -- which Woodward compares to the World War II era Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bomb -- must remain secret for now or it would "get people killed," Woodward said Monday on CNN's Larry King Live.
"It is a wonderful example of American ingenuity solving a problem in war, as we often have," Woodward said.
In "The War Within: Secret White House History 2006-2008," Woodward disclosed the existence of secret operational capabilities developed by the military to locate, target and kill leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgent leaders.
National security adviser Stephen Hadley, in a written statement reacting to Woodward's book, acknowledged the new strategy. Yet he disputed Woodward's conclusion that the "surge" of 30,000 U.S. troops into Iraq was not the primary reason for the decline in violent attacks.
"It was the surge that provided more resources and a security context to support newly developed techniques and operations," Hadley wrote.
Woodward would not go into detail about the program but said the secret operations would "some day in history ... be described to people's amazement."
He also attributed the dramatic drop in violence to two other factors - a ceasefire by Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army and the alignment of Sunni tribes with US forces in Anbar province.
Separately today, the White House said it was to bring home 8,000 combat troops.
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