Susan Chira, the foreign editor, … acknowledged that the paper had used “excessive shorthand” when referring to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. “We’ve been sloppy,” she said. She and other editors started worrying about it, Chira said, when the American military began an operation in mid-June against what it said were strongholds of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
On Thursday, she and her deputy, Ethan Bronner, circulated a memo with guidelines on how to distinguish Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia from bin Laden’s Al Qaeda.
Officials say that Mr. Gates has been quietly pressing for a pullback that could roughly halve the number of combat brigades now patrolling the most violent sections of Baghdad and surrounding provinces by early next year. The remaining combat units would then take up a far more limited mission of training, protecting Iraq’s borders and preventing the use of Iraq as a sanctuary by Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a Sunni Arab extremist group that claims to have an affiliation with Osama bin Laden’s network, though the precise relationship is unknown.