: The Telegraph goes out on a limb interpretting Paul Bremer’s visit to Washington, saying in a headline that “Bush speeds up the exit strategy“:

President George W Bush ordered his senior envoy in Iraq last night to speed up the handover of power to local politicians, following warnings from the CIA of impending disaster and a suicide bombing that killed 18 Italian paramilitary police….

The atmosphere of crisis in Washington was palpable.

Paul Bremer, the US administrator in Iraq, was rushed back from Baghdad to plot a new course for American officials who have been forced to use the word “war” for what had been described as mopping-up operations….

British officials believe Mr Bremer’s seven-point plan is too slow and cumbersome. They want to demonstrate to the Iraqis that the occupation is quickly coming to an end, partly in the hope that this would reduce support for gunmen who stage daily attacks.

Before leaving for Washington, Mr Straw told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “We want to hand over power to the Iraqi people as quickly as possible and it could well be that we hand over more quickly than planned.

“However, the occupying powers have clear responsibilities for security in Iraq and we have to meet those responsibilities.”

Sounds like the Brit spin on the story.

Compare and contrast with the NY Times:

L. Paul Bremer III, the American administrator in Iraq, asserted today that the pacification of Iraq was going well despite inevitable problems. But Secretary of State Colin L. Powell later acknowledged that there had been discussions at the White House about the state of security in Iraq.

And the Washington Post:

After two days of urgent talks in Washington with the Bush administration’s foreign policy team, the top U.S. administrator in Iraq said today he plans to return to Baghdad to consult with the U.S.-appointed Governing Council there about how best to accelerate the hand-over of power to a new Iraqi government.

And you can guess the Guardian’s view:

The White House yesterday drew up emergency plans to accelerate the transfer of power in Iraq after being shown a devastating CIA report warning that the guerrilla war was in danger of escalating out of US control.

Whom to believe? Who the hell knows.

I do know that we cannot abandon the Iraqi people and with it hope for democracy in the Middle East. As we used to say after 9/11: “The terrorists will have won if….”