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IN THE NEWS - Wars, Politics and Memories of a Day That Defined a Presidency

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This is IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English.

Thursday marked seven years since the attacks of September eleventh. Americans and others remembered the day al-Qaida terrorists crashed hijacked planes into New York's World Trade Center.

A third plane hit the Pentagon, the Defense Department building just outside Washington. And a fourth crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers fought the hijackers. The attacks killed almost three thousand people.

A man sits on one of 184 new, stainless-steel benches, each with the name of a victim of the attack on the Pentagon
A man sits on one of 184 new, stainless-steel benches, each with the name of a victim of the attack on the Pentagon

President George Bush attended his last observance in office for the anniversary of a day that set the direction for his presidency. He was at the opening of a memorial park for the one hundred eighty-four victims at the Pentagon. Permanent memorials are also planned in New York and Pennsylvania.

Soon after the attacks, the president declared a War on Terror. The United States and Britain launched operations in Afghanistan. One goal was met: to oust the Taliban government that sheltered Osama bin Laden. But two others were not: capture or kill him and destroy al-Qaida.

Then, in two thousand three, the United States led an invasion of Iraq. President Bush later said there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with September the eleventh, as officials suggested in defense of the war. Critics argued that the Iraq war took away military resources needed in Afghanistan.

Earlier this week, President Bush announced he is sending more troops to Afghanistan. About four thousand five hundred will be redirected from Iraq by February. But others are set to leave, so the result will be an increase of only about one thousand five hundred. Top commanders want many more.

President Bush also announced that about eight thousand troops will come home from Iraq by February. He said the withdrawal is possible because of security gains made since the surge -- last year's temporary troop increase.

Last week, Anbar became the eleventh of Iraq's eighteen provinces to return to Iraqi control. Violence in Anbar has dropped sharply.

Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, supported the surge. Democrat Barack Obama did not. Senator Obama has since agreed it was successful, but says the Iraqis have still not taken enough responsibility. He wants to remove all American combat forces from Iraq within sixteen months in office. Senator McCain says setting a date is irresponsible.

Both candidates, though, support more troops for Afghanistan. On Thursday they suspended their campaign advertising and appeared together at Ground Zero in New York.

President Bush says the United States must also help Pakistan defeat Taliban and al-Qaida militants in tribal areas along the Afghan border. American officials confirmed this week that he approved raids inside Pakistan without Pakistani approval.

That news led an opposition leader in Pakistan on Friday to call for parliament to meet, saying the nation is under a threat of war. Pakistan's army chief says the country will defend itself "at all costs."

And that's IN THE NEWS in VOA Special English, written by Brianna Blake. I'm Steve Ember.

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