(CBS/AP) The four-star general in charge of U.S. forces in Iraq wants more time in a war that is now in its sixth year. Democrats say he has got until the November elections.
Gen. David Petraeus planned to testify Tuesday on the war for the first time in seven months. He was expected to tell two Senate committees that last year's "surge" influx of 30,000 troops in Iraq had helped calm some of the sectarian violence but that to prevent a backslide in security, troops would likely be needed in large numbers through the end of the year.
Under his proposal, as many as 140,000 troops could be in Iraq when voters head to the polls in November.
Democrats contend that this approach guarantees an open-ended commitment to a $10-billion-a-month war as the economy at home is faltering. They say the lack of political progress made in Iraq, as well as the recent spike in violence in the southern port city of Basra, indicates the troop buildup has failed.
Look, the surge HAS failed, Iraq is entering a new phase of Shia vs Shia, and Petraeus should testify to the fact that political reconcilliation won't happen unless there is a much more effective carrot and stick approach. My vote is to throw the carrot in the air, drop the stick and leave quickly.
UPDATE I -
We'll see Hillary this morning--we won't see Obama til this afternoon. McCain is there, apparently, and is the least attentive to his constituents Senator right now. He's never there. But he's there today.
The wingnuts on C-SPAN before the hearing were hilarious. A Paultard got on there and went ballistic on gold prices and fiat money.
LEVIN opens with increased violence, some success of the surge, hits on the PURPOSE of the surge, which hasn't come to fruition and has not been achieved.
"As long as YOU [ the americans ] are willing to pay for the cleanup, why should we pay for it?"
Republicans used to be about personal responsibility, the individual, the free market. All that goes out the window in Iraq.
Levin calls out al-Maliki for being incompetent in the wake of Basra--that's huge.
Levin calls out Bush on the benchmarks and the Iraqi failure to meet them.
Levin follows the money--$30 Billion Dollars sits in US banks, untouched for reconstruction. Iraq has oil revenue money all over the world. The US pays salaries of 100,000 Iraqis working on reconstruction while Iraq pays out less than 10% of its budgeted funds--that is, they budgeted x amount, and are only spending less than 10% of that money--that's huge.
Iraqi Army 160,000 strong--THAT'S ALL??? 4 years of training and that's all we have to show for it? Iraqi Army incapable of leading operations on its own.
McCain - Patriotism, selfless service, what to do in Iraq, rah rah. Thanks, Grampa Jones--can we have the TV remote back? And your car keys?
McCain points to meaningless "agreements" in the wake of extreme violence. Sadr's name hasn't come up. Wonder why?
"Genuine prospect of success" is a measure of McCain's delusion. Levin had details--McCain has platitudes and a delusional wishlist.
Should we choose to withdraw, we will exchange victory for defeat, al Qaeda would proclaim victory, genocide, destabilization of Middle East, Iranian influence of the failed state of Iraq, blah blah blah. McCain presents no facts, no details, just appeals to patriotism and -- McCain interrupted by demonstrators -- makes a silly joke about it.
"Iranian back special groups" are the Badr Brigade--they're now part of Iraq security forces. Did anyone bother explaining that to McCain? He just made a HUGE gaffe.
Backtracks on 100 years gaffe--trying to get out from under that rock.
Iraq neighbors should engage--uh, what? You WANT the Saudis and the Syrians in the middle of this?
Congress must not "choose" to lose. What the fuck? Go ahead and kick someone in the nuts instead of saying hello, dude.
Petraeus - significant but uneven progress. AQI have been dealt serious blows. Iraqi police better? Hello, Basra and Sadr city?
"Criminal Gangs" is a subject for a separate hearing. Our inability to control Iraq means good old fashioned Organized Crime has flourished. It will not go away easily. There's no infrastructure to actually fight it and the toehold it has will be permanent if nothing is done.
CHARTS - the problem with Petraeus is, his charts always show progress because they don't go back to the same start point. First chart--he goes back to early 2005. Next chart, he only goes back 1 year. And on and on. Pick one metric--we'll measure ALL FIVE YEARS and show the trends. Every chart should go back FIVE YEARS, ONE YEAR and SIX MONTHS. No exceptions. To go back "26.3 months" or "in the last 7 months" etc. means the metrics change and statistics can be dishonestly presented. Next Chart goes back about two years (i'm estimating) again--another dishonest metric and a dishonest presentation of metrics. This is highly suspect cherry picking. Half way through these terms, metrics CHANGED: i.e., bullet in the head was one kind of violence, bullet in the abdomen was another kind.
Petraeus compares 2008 to 2006 but DOES NOT compare 2008 to 2007. Again, cherry picking.
AQI is NOT a major source of instability. He brings up Zawahiri and Bin Laden--what the fuck? AQI responsible for less than 10%.
Brings up Quds and Hezbollah. Hello? They trained the Badr Brigade. Badr Brigade is now helping prop up al-Maliki.
More about the Iraqi security forces--chooses to go back to September--won't use standard metrics, i.e., one year ago, five years ago, etc.
540,000 in Iraq Sec Forces No word on AWOLS/re-enlistment.
Claims 100 battalions can operate with help--that hasn't changed since 2005, IIRC.
Iraq has only bought $2billion in materials--why so little?
Sadr's name comes up--I think for the first time.
USAID comes up for the first time--Petraeus is asking for funds for Sons of Iraq, but there's no evidence they're being paid. Money is lost between our hands the hands of the Sons of Iraq. How pathetic is that? It goes back to "organized crime."
Draw down to 15 brigade combat teams--Uh, hold the phone on that. Because we are making progress, we can't quite take all of our troops out. Strain on forces is a factor in Petraeus' recommendations--BUT, it looks like if we pull out now, everything goes to shit.
Question number one for the General--what does "not going to shit look like?"
UPDATE II - from 10:16 AM Eastern forward...
Blue Girl is power challenged and has no connectivity.
Crocker - not saying anything worth repeating. He's talking about laws the Iraqi government doesn't ever intend to pass or follow.
A new flag flies in Iraq--woo hoo! The Republicans should send someone to Iraq to help them bring up a law each year that bans the burning of that flag a means of clogging the parliament and stopping any substantive laws. Only problem is, Iraqis don't burn their own flag. They blow it up by accident when someone doesn't steal it.
Sadr's name comes up again--he doesn't seem to be getting any love from these hearings so far.
Crocker talks about the SOFA agreement and expiration of Title 7--well, if the admin knew how to deal with Congress, this would have been done by now.
The dinar is strong--ok, how about using some of those dinars to pay for reconstruction? Does the US have to keep paying for this shit? Iraq has bought 40 aircraft. OK, but will they use them? Their history with air power is not so good. Hopefully, they won't panic and land those planes and helicopters in Iran if some shit goes down.
Crocker is an uninspiring bureaucrat. Everything has tanked. Did McCain wander out after someone waved a dollar bill in the hallway? Is he looking for his fishing hat?
--demonstrators - "bring them home" and applause. Levin might clear the room. Levin is combative, it seems.
End of year troop strength - Petraeus: won't give an estimate.
Maliki DID NOT follow Petraeus' advice. P throws Maliki under the bus.
Say hello to the underside of the bus, al-Maliki: no one thinks you know what you're doing.
McCain - throws P a lifeline, helps throw al-Maliki under the bus for Basra debacle. One unit pressed into operations--how can that be when there are so many troops. McCain expresses his disappointment with Basra, has no understanding of how things actually unfolded. Green Zone has been attacked in ways it has not been attacked in a long time from Sadr City. P says we have taken control of area where they were firing 107mm rockets. Can you HOLD it?
AQI is a "major" threat??? McCain and P are perpetrating a delusional POV.
I tend to wander off when Crocker speaks...he's the filibuster as they run out the clock.
UPDATE III - 11:07AM - BG still no power in KC
Warner tries to link all of this to safety at home. 80% don't accept the premise that this is worth it. Petraeus waivers and won't say. He doesn't think about the big picture, you know.
Lieberman - pardon me while I roll my eyes. What a sad, delusional little man. He talks to his colleagues with a tut-tutting tone that is patronizing. No agreement on the facts--well, Petraeus won't use standard metrics. Everyone knows this. Lieberman won't take off the rose-colored glasses. Iraqis have more political reconcilliation than the American politicians--a bald-faced lie. Republican obstructionism has caused all of this. Not any Democratic malfeasance.
Lieberman wants to talk about Iran. Prepare for uninformed filibuster.
Lieberman brings up Iranian special forces--you mean the people who TRAINED the Badr Brigade that is now al-Maliki's palace guard?
Softballs from Lieberman to P--Lieberman says something that p can agree with. This is oversight? How ridiculous.
We go from Warner to Lieberman to Inhofe--Inhofe talks about going to a funeral. Inhofe wants to talk about detainees and attacks the "far left" while ignoring torture, abu Ghraib, etc. Softball.
The Repubs and Lieberman add nothing to the proceeding--they are there to help the filibuster to prevent anyone from asking real questions. That's why Crocker keeps getting questions. No one's listening to the answers. No one cares. Run out the clock.