Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Petraeus (and Crocker) in the hot seat
Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker are testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, putting them before a cavalcade of Senate stars, including committee Chairman Carl Levin (MI), Jim Webb (VA), John Warner (VA), Robert Byrd (WV), Lindsey Graham (SC), both Florida Senators, Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez, Claire McCaskill (MO), Liddy Dole (NC), and two out of three potential future presidents: John McCain, who is the ranking Republican on the committee, and Hillary Clinton. Oh, Joe Lieberman is on the committee too (shudder).

In their opening statements, both men testified that essentially, U.S. troops will remain in Iraq indefinitely in large numbers, even after the U.N. mandate for the occupation of Iraq expires on December 31st. And Petraeus called for a 45-day waiting period before the U.S. draws down its forces in July. Crocker called for the signing of a "status of forces agreement" between the U.S. and Iraq to solidify the U.S. presence there after December, and he claims that the U.S. does not intend to have permanent bases there, the permanent bases we're building in that country notwithstanding... Crocker claims that such an agreement will neither tie the hands of Congress nor of the next president of the United States. Hm. And! He says the administration will "keep the Congress fully informed." How very kind of him to say. I can just see Dick Cheney snickering in the cloakroom as we speak...

John McCain is taking his turn now, trying to sound knowledgeable about Moqtada al-Sadr, Mosul and other things that begin with "M." He is sprinkling his "questions" with allusions to "victory!" And he wants to hear more about the "Iranian threat" and their support of "various elements that are Shiite extremists" particularly in Basra. Time to fact check that one. You can't trust much that the old feller says about Iraq, Iran, al-Qaida or much else. Ah, the aging brain...

Update, 11:07 - Oh god, Lieberman is talking now... (gagging ... gagging...) He's pleading for the "hear no progress, see no progress" Dems to "agree on the facts" presented by the two political appointees of the Bush administration testifying before him. Yes, makes sense...

Update, 12:00 - Bill Nelson just quoted Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who testified earlier this week before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that regarding Iraq, "this thing is over, we're coming out," and the only question is, how we stage a withdrawal that gets our forces out safely and with some measure of dignity for the United States. That, it seems to me, is the question. (I skipped the testimony of the various Republican suck-ups who parroted administration Iraq-speak during their (wasted) time. McCaffrey's exact quote was as follows:
"The Iraqi government is dysfunctional, the Iraqi security forces are inadequate, ill-equipped, and we've got very little time. By the way, I'm not recommending we come out of Iraq in a year or three. That's what's going to happen. This thing is over."
And he went on to say that:
"We're going to see some Iraqi two-star general in charge of Iraq three years from today," he predicted, some "hot-shot division commander" who seizes control. The best hope is that it is not another Saddam Hussein.
And in case you think McCaffrey was an outlier, here's another quote from that April 8 hearing:
"Let's be very clear," former Army War College commandant Robert Scales Jr. testified. "Regardless of strategy or who's in office, we're going to get out of Iraq, just driven by the conditions of the military."
Not exactly the rosy, "we'll stay forever and the Iraqis will cheer" scenarios being peddled by Crocker and Petraeus (who, in their defense, are at the moment, wholly in the hands of the president of the United States and thus chained to his boss's obsessive desire to keep U.S. forces in Iraq, permanently if possible.)

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