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Bush losing top adviser on Iraq

WASHINGTON – President Bush is losing his top day-to-day adviser on Iraq, the White House confirmed Monday.

Meghan L. O’Sullivan, who has played a key behind-the-scenes role in implementing Bush’s controversial Iraq policies over the past four years, will leave later this spring.

Her departure, which follows that of her deputy, could leave the White House with a vacuum of long-term experience on Iraq policy, and it comes as Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress prepare for a showdown over withdrawing U.S. troops.

O’Sullivan, 37, known for her 100-hour work weeks and steady optimism over the eventual outcome in Iraq, said in an interview that with the completion of months-long reviews of policy in Iraq and Afghanistan – which she also oversees – she felt it was the right time for a change.

“There’s never a good time to leave this kind of job. … But (I decided) this would be as good a time as any,” she said, adding that she was happy with the outcome of both reviews.

O’Sullivan, who says she’s uncertain of her next job, helped craft the strategy that Bush announced in January, including an increase of 28,000 U.S. troops to help secure Baghdad.

She has spent nearly three years at the White House and before that was a top aide to L. Paul Bremer III, the top U.S. civilian administrator in Iraq before the country regained its sovereignty.