rumsfeld makes amends - huge cheer!!

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    Rumsfeld to sign death letters
    Sunday, December 19, 2004 Posted: 1:54 AM EST (0654 GMT)

    Rumsfeld has been criticized for his Iraqi war policies.

    (CNN) -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said he will sign each letter written to family members of service members killed in military action.

    Stars and Stripes, the newspaper devoted to military news, published a statement it said Rumsfeld provided to them on the matter.

    "I wrote and approved the now more than 1,000 letters sent to family members and next of kin of each of the servicemen and women killed in military action.

    "While I have not individually signed each one, in the interest of ensuring expeditious contact with grieving family members, I have directed that in the future I sign each letter," Rumsfeld said in the statement, published in Friday's edition of the paper.

    As of early Sunday, the number of U.S. troop deaths in the Iraqi war is 1,308. Operation Enduring Freedom, which includes Afghanistan and other countries, has resulted in 153 U.S. deaths.

    Rumsfeld said he is "deeply grateful for the many letters I have received from the families of those who have been killed in the service of our country, and I recognize and honor their personal loss."

    The secretary had been criticized for not personally signing all such letters and using mechanical signatures. Stars and Stripes quotes family members who have disliked the practice.

    This comes on top of criticisms of Rumsfeld, blamed by many citizens and lawmakers for his Iraqi war policies and administration.

    At the start of the global war on terror, Rumsfeld said, he was "determined that it is important that military families who have lost loved ones in hostile actions receive a letter from me directly."

    Rumsfeld said he has visited wounded forces and their families.

    He said "it is a solemn privilege of the many of us in the department to meet with U.S. forces and families who have experienced injury or death in the defense of our country."

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