Before Petraeus speaks, Congress has a say

"Our witnesses have been sent here this morning to restore credibility to a discredited policy."

By Tim Grieve
Published September 10, 2007 9:46PM (UTC)
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Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker have arrived in the Caucus Room of the Cannon House Office Building to report on the progress of the "surge," but so far all they're doing is listening -- and not just to the woman who shouted "war criminal" before the Capitol police hustled her out of the room. Before Petraeus or Crocker can utter a word to the Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, they're hearing from the leaders of both.

Democratic Rep. Ike Skelton, chairman of the Armed Services Committee: "The surge is intended to provide breathing space ... But while our troops are holding back the opposing team to let them make a touchdown, the Iraqis haven't even picked up the ball ... What's the likelihood that things will change dramatically? Will there be political progress in the near term? Or are we merely beating a dead horse?"


Democratic Rep. Tom Lantos, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee: "Our witnesses have been sent here this morning to restore credibility to a discredited policy. This is not a knock on you, Gen. Petraeus, or on you, ambassador Crocker. But the fact remains that the administration has sent you here today to convince the members of these two committees of the Congress that victory is at hand. With all due respect to you, I must say: I don't buy it."

Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter, ranking member of the Armed Services Committee: "Gen. Petraeus is coming back not just as a guy who's going to give us his take on the Iraq situation, but as the leader of more than 160,000 American personnel in uniform in Iraq. They're not only watching his testimony, they're watching our testimony . ... Let's lead off this hearing with this stipulation -- that the gentlemen who are appearing before us, especially Gen. Petraeus, whose credibility has been attacked all week long, especially by the left in this country, represents the very best of the military tradition."

Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee: Between invoking the memories of 9/11, equating Iraqi war opponents with Neville Chamberlain and accusing Democrats of working with MoveOn in a full-page New York Times ad that called Petraeus "Betray Us," Ros-Lethinen said: "It is significant that, on the eve of this grim anniversary [of 9/11], we would be holding a hearing highlighting the contrast between those who are inspired by this latest greatest generation ... and those of us who believe we should simply retreat."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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