WASHINGTON, May 31 (UPI) -- U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney says the Iraqi insurgency will be put down and fizzle out before the end of President George Bush's second term in 2009.
"I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time," Cheney said in an interview with CNN Monday night. "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."
Cheney defended the administration's decision to topple Saddam Hussein's government in 2003, but a stubborn guerrilla resistance has lasted more than two years. The number of U.S. troops killed in the conflict now tops 1,650, and estimates of the number of Iraqi deaths range into the tens of thousands.
"America will be safer in the long run when Iraq, and Afghanistan as well, are no longer safe havens for terrorists or places where people can gather and plan and organize attacks against the United States," Cheney said.