according to the CSPAN website, the hearing will air on cspan3, online at this link, and on cspan radio which is available online in multiple formats. time listed is 9:30 am edt.
this is the cspan website description of today’s hearing:
Status of War in Iraq
Washington, District of Columbia (United States)
Biden, Joseph R. Jr. U.S. Senator, D-DE
Petraeus, David H. Commander, Multinational Force-Iraq
Crocker, Ryan C. Ambassador, United States, Iraq
A hearing on the status of the war in Iraq and political developments there was held to hear a report by the commanding general and the U.S. ambassador on conditions in Iraq.
Is it possible that I over-blogged yesterday’s House hearing? Why yes, it is. And today, I will be trying to give more of a summary, less of a play-by-play. Hey, it could be worse, I could have been like Dennis Miller on Monday Night Football. (am I the only sports fan on this blog??)
MY schedule for today is a little different than yesterday. The hearing is only scheduled through 3:30, but I will have to leave around 2:30. Hopefully, there will be others to help out.
I’m trying to auto-publish this, so if it posts at a completely inappropriate time, I’m soo, soo sorry. I’m learning. (sorry no entertainment today…i dont think anyone watched the vids yesterday anyway…)
i am NOT…i repeat NOT trying to type everything my own dear, dear senator biden says this morning…..
like i said above, im going to try to scale the content back….maybe do highlights…
but PLEASE holler if im not giving enough info!!! thanks…
moment of silence
quoting petraeus’ letter to troops…we had hoped for tangible political progress this summer…didnt get it… 🙁
iraqi’s are voting on the surge with their feet…fleeing…and stil live in fear…
anbar: not particulary relevant to the central problem.
didnt sense willingness to trust central gov’t when speaking with tribal leaders.
if every jihadi were killed tomorrow, we’d still have a major war on our hands
surge is a stop-gap…puts more us lives at risk with little hope for success…
going off about is own plan…we all know that drill, right?
2 steps/surge….reduce violence and political compromise…
skeptical of benchmarks…
do iraqis want to be iraqis? are they willing to sacrifice sectarian and tribal loyalties?
benchmarks measure only the official actions…do not measure the sectarian and tribal influence or the impact of regional players.
do not measure the degree to which the u.s. is involved
greatest risk for us policy is that the progress might be beside the point, given the iraqi divisions. some success is possible, but margins are narrow
debate over progress less illuminating than determining whether the admin has a clear strategy and is engaging in regional diplomacy
counseling patience is not enough…we need to see a strategy…
can we build bridges betw. sunni and shiia…
surge must not be an excuse for failure to plan for the contingencies…need a sustainable alternative that can be implemented
ill only type what might be different from yesterday…
link from yesterday
he hasnt begun yet…if he says anything different, ill add it on…
can sunni travel safely to shiia neighborhood?
gen p: comment on gao report…5-week gap from reporting…the addt’l 5 weeks of data causes the discrepancy
biden: 5 weeks in iraq is a moment…there have been other fluctuations in violence…still over 1,000 weekly attacks, down from 1,680…but still…we call that success?
gen P: it depends on the neighborhood…some still hazardous..
biden: are there any that are safe?
gen p: some are mixed, some are safe
biden: his trip to iraq…helicopter grounded by wind…no one dared leave the city in a car…had to wait for storm. nobody would travel on the ground.
crocker: we tried to keep activity behind the scenes…we would have made accomodation for the senate f.r. committee chair
biden: we couldnt even tour the city….to crocker…progress will not be quick…what does that mean? 3, 4, 5, 10 years?
crocker: expectations in past c/n be met, trying not to do that….force levels, etc, we dont believe we can see beyond next summer
biden: but you are…youre saying it wont be quick..
crocker: it will certainly be beyond next summer, cant say what that means in terms of troop levels.
biden: our agenda was to stand up the iraq army so we could stand down…surge was to provide for govt to reconcile….isnt the surge a failure?
crocker: no polit. settlement…no reason to expect the ‘june’ surge…cut off
biden: circumstances same in march as now, will you recommend continue the surge levels?
genP: ‘pretty big hypothetical’…id be hard pressed to recomm.
biden: i would hope youd support fundamental change.
luger: to gen p…per newsweek…compliments officers ‘brainiac brigade’…finding strategy for supporting local people, promote stability..quoting brooks, nyt…strategy to build up locals making headway, cent govt incapable, but locals making progress…
he’s off on a mad tangent…it hurts!!!
appreciate men and women under command…disagreements are about policy…
violence numbers come down with surge
gen p agrees, came down with announcement of surge, even b4 it began
dodd: space for political process…quoting a soldier who lost an eye ‘after a month of cleaning out an area, we leave, an hour and a half later theyre back…civilians wont share info about ammo dumps, etc’
polls of iraqis….they think security is deteriorated…sunnis think its ok to kill americans…
how do we justify this continuation?? THEIR benchmarks arent being met? nothings getting better. gen jones- long term progress impossible without polit. reconcil.
i dont see any indication this is getting done. we have been begging them to do this…and yet you come here again and argue about stats…what makes you believe that anything further will produce results?
gen P: draw encouragement from ongoing activity in absence of legislation….oil revenue sharing is going on without the legislations…anbar (again) got an increase from the sunni govt…. there’s no amnesty, but there is conditional immunity…’number of examples’…’steps happening’…give hope that they can reconcile…’and so forth’…
working hard with local peace…nat’l reconciliation committe works with reconciliation cell…moving local leaders into federal system..receive federal funding for police, etc… and that ‘type’ of activity give him some encouragement
..has not worked out with legislation..
dodd: is the soldier’s view commonly held?
gen p: all views are different…in anbar they feel welcome among those who were shooting at them before…some places they help you, some dont…have recovered a lot of weapons caches…
‘we support our troops’ meme…we GET it!!
‘to question strategy is not unpatriotic’
when you look at the preceding reports…contradictions…most important-polit. reconcil….clear conclusion: iraq govt is dysfunctional…
…southern part of iraq…gen jones task force says we’ve lost it….notes that petr. and crocker didnt mention s.iraq…
on and on and on…anecdotal..how bad the south is in iraq….
i understand its your job/responsibility to put positive spin…
but, um…where is this going??????????
the congress d/n dictate benchmarks….dont argue numbers…lets look at strategic context…
7 ncos in iraq finishing up their commitment…their scenario is very different…more anecdotal ‘honest evaluation’ stories from his trips….not such a rosy picture.
(petr. and crocker are squirming)
are we going to continue investing blood and treasure? for what? very little polit. process/reconcil…
crocker: enormous dysfunctionality (is that a word?) and discontent about that, which is good news (wtf???) theyre realizing sectarianism doesnt work…
security/violence- iraq unraveled in 06 into 07…under those conditions, impossible to effectively govern/reconcile….last couple months security improvement creates environment for reconcil. (so they went on vaca???) still unresolved…starting to get the space to work on it.
when secur. improves, political life starts up again..anecdotal ‘distributing revenue’ meme….
gen P: my responsibility isnt to give good pic, its to give accurate pic..as i see it…
talks about drawdown…biden asks theyre already scheduled to come out…gen P: i could have extended them…i already requested it and it was approved…(marine battalion i believe)..they will go home without replacement…
positive development not just result of surge…anbar again…why dont they fucking move there if they love it so damn much???…trying to help them build on that…
thank the troops…sure, sure…
K:this is an historic moment…gen westmoreland…yadda yadda…invokes vietnam/number dead after admin knew it was a mistake….troops owed policy worthy of sacrifice…
troops cant make the iraqis make decisions…is it acceptable they die while iraq leaders delay, delay…?
is it acceptable that british leave for local militias to fight under iranian influence…if yes, why cant we, if no what do we do about it…??
more ?? to crocker: iraq govt own commitments arent being met…why is it not appropriate to hold iraq govt to own standard…looking at ‘progress’ not benchmark is moving the goal post…not adequate compared to troop sacrifice…
and…anbar…show us how it is relevant to nat’l sitch (thanks, john!!) propping up anbar only creates more nat’l division. violence is down due to middle class flight…soft partition taking place….why is this not moving goal posts…how can you go back to pre-surge when you’ve already said that iraq almost fell apart in 06??
Crocker: we agree on natl polit. reconcil….but we have to acknowledge the link between security and reconciliation…security preconditions didnt exist last year…surge is making a difference, but it will take time…how will it succeed? i dont know!!!..
strategic/tactical flexibility as they move toward reconcil which doesnt necessarily match a benchmark. (he’s not even good at spinning bullshit…but youve got to give him an e for effort)…conditions made reconciliation somewhere between difficult and impossible…the ‘time and space’ is really just happening…
about anbar…’not to over-emphasize’…it isnt about us and the anbari…its about their link to a central gov’t. (kerry isnt buying it…looks disgusted)
thanks, moveon is mean…
his trip to iraq…good times…
to crocker…gonna take time…ups and downs…al-q can commit violence…we need objective measures of progress, not benchmarks. (we already know the answer to this, right? i dont have to type it AGAIN, do i??)…about polit reconcil…
to gen p….applauds drawdown….can we get a longer-term plan?
Crocker: look to processes not benchmarks…
genP: al-q/iraq…be afraid!! it ‘probably would have gotten out of hand again’. its amazing how we can make THAT prediction..but we cant predict success for the iraqi gov’t. that’s not fair..
intel-al-q trying to set up. they’re soooo adaptable….
reduction of forces and shift of missions (training to partnering to overwatch)…we’re in the mix…some are handed off…
…six years after 9/11..we’re focused on our greatest mistake in the fight against al-q…no reference y’day or today to the broader gwot…iraq is a diversion…global fight/global enemy…
not whether we win/lose iraq, but whether iraq is helping/hurting the gwot….bush calls it ‘central front’…that’s misleading at best…our extreme focus on iraq prevents getting al-q elsewhere… (i would type this man’s words for hours if needed….sigh…) oh, shit, did i just swoon??
do you believe u.s. is providing enough resources to combat al-q?
crocker: beyond my expertise…my experience in pakistan, al-q is a major challenge
russ: how concerned are you?
c: we’re all concerned
russ: which is more important, al q or iraq?
crocker: challenges in pak/afghan border are complicated…as ambassador to pak, didnt feel the people needed to fix werent available because of iraq.
russ: which is more imp?
crocker: dodge, duck, dip, dive, dodge
genp: not in a position to comment on the resources committed otherwise….i only know about how it affects alq/iraq
al-q central sees al-q/iraq as THEIR central front….according to intel…we need to keep an eye on it
russ: im concerned that you 2 wont comment…classic example of the myopia of iraq…cant look at global challenge.
gen, when will troop deaths decline?
genP: i focus on my area of responsibility…not fight the overall gwot
there has been gradual reduction in troop deaths since june…there were some non-combat deaths, however…
russ: every month this year…a greater number died than in the same month in 06…32 this month…suggestion of decline from month to month is misleading…
when can i tell people troop deaths will decline?
gen P: we are on the offensive…you should expect deaths…might have crested, could be coming down…vehicle accidents yesterday, very very very sad (he said 3 ‘veries’)
‘im new here’ thank you ….sorry about the circumstance….blah blah
benchmarks…we dont meet our benchmarks all the time and our lives are easier…pulling out troops to leverage iraq into taking more respons good idea??
crocker: if he says anything new, ill be sure to type it.
genP: shares crocker’s view. and some tactical views, too…like withdrawing support from individual groups if they dont comply (withdrew support from an iraqi force for abusing detainees…hmmmm…)
corker: calibrating troop levels…he assumes that petraeus thought about that before he did it….puh-leeze
genP: sure did!
nobody i know likes the war…biggest foreign policy disaster…infrastructure…
anecdotal…visits here and there…was optimistic…meetings with british…
deadliest summer since war began was this ‘surge’ summer….about being seen as occupiers…
accuses of cherry picking numbers
poll numbers they tried to discredit y’day…67% of iraqis think their kids life will not be better than their own.
asks them to take off their rosy glasses. president determines the policy as commander in chief…quotes his extreme idiocy, including spelling out a-s-s in ‘were kicking ass’
please dont do what you did in 04 with rosy scenario in op ed…in 05 when you told us the iraqis were almost ready….
my ??…im out of time, ill take it in writing…rummy said this w/b a 6 mo war…WHEN?? when can they take it over…they have to defend their country…
to crocker: what happens to local improvements when we leave? how to sustain progress? what institutions, resources, steps are required to sustain it?
crocker: insure that local developments relate to the center…(i think he really believes this crap…and believes that that central government will function some day…unreal!!)
u.s. rebuilding moved from infrastructure to capacity-building…developing provincial capacity….encouraging provincial governance…
sununu: $10 b in oil funds and u.s. funds….what other obstacles to spending effectively…are they accountable? are they making reasonable investments?
crocker: capital development…mechanisms and measures to monitor waste, fraud, mismanagement…
sun: do they work?
crocker: to a degree….works in progress…provinces and center ‘watch’ each other…
sun: genp…on troop reduction…on mid-march assessment…what factors will you look at? how might those factors be different than the ones you used here?
genP: operational and strategic goals will pertain to ongoing assessment…with local security and polit. status…focus again on the local…???…
to crocker: can iraq be stabilized without pol. reconc. betw shiia and sunni?
nel: what is the timeline?
cr: i dont know. there are hopeful signs..there’s a lot more to do..
my daughter’s dr. called…i missed a lot of crocker repeating the same crap as ever..
nel: iran…met with ambassador…what’s up there?
cr: nothing substantial as pertains to iraq. iran is complicated. i cant read their minds…not prepared to say it isnt worth pursuing though it hasnt helped so far
nel: are you concerned w/iran that they will be behind hezbollah-type destabilization to interfere with u.s. interest…are they exploiting sunni/shiia split?
cr: they are
rich houghton (sen thomas’ ex-staffer)..been in iraq 29 mos…acknowledge him…stand…clap!! woot!!
and a 5-minute break….
wants to focus on moving forward…the way ahead..what happens next?
your report sounds identical to bush’s ‘stand up/stand down’…is this a mission shift/change in strategy…reliant on iraqis…and unless they are able to reconcile, we cant implement?
genP: have already been shifting responsibilities…fallujah/anbar…’gated communities’-heh-keep al-q out…anecdotes…
conditions-based…we’re trying to push conditions, but not rush to failure…my optimism before was justified…previous progress undone by ’06 sect. violence..
murk: civilians…her trip to iraq…gen odierno-civilian piece as important as military. is the civilian surge adequate to support military surge? do you have the support you need?
genP: we would like more. i agree with the joint chiefs..ag, health, etc are thin…
you 2 are doing the best in a bad sitch…thank you
your mission is what’s at issue in the senate. strategy, not tactics. youve punted on strategy in the past. we dont have limitless resources…cost/benefit…
we s/n have had this discussion on 9/11..or 10 or 12…because it perpetuates the connection…
people and congress…if they understood the financial, human, and foreign relations cost…the benefits to al-q…and the harm to iraqi people…
if that had been the deal, most people wouldnt have taken it…doesnt serve our strategic interest..
we have set the bar so low that modest improvement is considered success…its not..
this continues to be a disatrous for. policy mistake…how do we clean up the mess?? bad options/worse options
this is critical of admin..set a mission that is now difficult to achieve…admin h/n acknowledged it…’we’re kicking a-s-s’…
how to best move forward?
surge has had some impact…would hope so based on sacrifice/loss….has been modest given investment..
not clear that anbar success has to do with surge..youve said its political…
some modest decline in sect. viol. in baghdad..at the cost of u.s. trajedy. shiia militias h/n been disarmed…theyve ‘taken a knee’ and are waiting it out. cent gov’t h/n produced results we were promised with surge…context of our decisions…
about stand up/stand down…to genp…how long will this take? at what point do we say enough??
to crocker: iraqis underst. that our patience isnt limitless…but no stipulations are applied…if we’re in the same place in a year, what would compel you to make a different set of recommendation…any scenario..
crocker: reiterating…at least admitting it this time…insists on linking to central gov’t.
he feels proud when he’s with the troops…
we are listening to ourselves not our witnesses..
we got into a lot more than we bargained for..unprepared politically and militarily…leaders should be ashamed…
our own gov’t no longer understands how freedom works..
but we’re there now. only other choice is to disgrace our country and leave.
youre reporting some success and feel our goals are attainable…cause for celebration (he actually said that…that wasnt me)
only relevant question is where we go from here…drawdown recomm. is encouraging…heartening that leaders are emerging in iraq..
he believes that if it were anywhere else in the world that democracy would emerge..
is there any expectation for long-term peace as long as iran, syria, saudi a. remain the same???
crocker: problems dont play out on ‘own terms’…rough neighborhood. i think it can succeed…iran has limits…
gen p: cannot win in iraq just in iraq…neighbors are important…
needs syria to tighten airport and borders…trying to determine whether they have training camps…(just gotta throw that in, eh?)
iranian activity in iraq…’special groups’ leaders of sadr’s…and hezbollah 2800 (which they werent aware of!!)…make the sitch more difficult..
munitions come from iran…
we owe our troops a better policy
to genp: you say source of violence is competition for power and resources…our kids are dying for iraqis to compete instead of establishing a nation..
genp: mission is to try to carry it out more peacefully…trying to help legit iraq forces…
menen: we’re refereeing a competition…i think that’s misguided…would be different if we were dying so they could build gov’t..not for them to fight over power/resources…
your reduction number is the same as the original surge timeline, no?
genP: a little sooner…but, hey, im not recommending CONTINUING the surge, in whole or in part…so..
menen: we knew it couldnt go past that anyway…wont we end up where we were before?
menen: we’ll be right where we were in february
gen P: doublespeak
menen: seems to me that casualties and iraqi lead w/support are the same…only in the side-by-side category is there an increase….
genP: because iraqis have been dying. hard to maintain readiness. dont get too fixated on ora numbers (operational readiness)…there are units performing that arent on the chart because they arent ‘complete’..
the two are arguing back and forth…
menen: how many more years?
genP: forthrightly…cannot predict
menen: if he pressed you?
pet: i would be doing a disservice to our soldiers if i tried to predict…ive laid out our plan…im as frustrated as e-1 else..
menen: amer. families want to know how long?? and under what circumstances??? and going off about the benchmarks??? americans cant continue to be called upon…
heckuva job, petey..or some such…
‘faulty intel’…president had 3 goals…oust hussein/wmds…elections…train military..
we’ve done 1 and 2…(says wmd componenets were there)…gen jones assesment of military training is about 18 mos out…accurate?
genP: i think so…as far as general structure..there are some good, some not…correct generalization
isakson: basra…mosque bomber…iraqi forces took lead…
genP: ‘shining examples”…his words…
isak: you recommend gradual change to ‘overwatch’…no timetable…we’re in reach..
genP: yes. iraq pm has raised structure…readiness assesment/they need leaders…
to crocker: benchmarks not indicative of lack of progress..
i could type the answer now if you’d like..but he hasnt started talking yet…
youre great…blah blah
frustration…surge debate…goals and expectations…reduce violence, polit. reconcil. and accomodation, reduce troop levels..
violence: charts are cute…violence is too high…nie mentions dislocated people, reduces targets for ethnic cleansing…iraqi polls, they dont feel safer…
govt: dysfunctional…cabinet participation badly numbered…cant meet OWN benchmarks…havent made progress..
troop levels: down to where we started pre-surge…which isnt a troop reduction
we failed on our own standard re: surge
where do we go from here?
to crocker: we’re perceived as occupier, so nobody will help them…what motivation is there with us taking on almost complete burden…where’s our incentive?
crocker: everyone thinks iraq is important to the world. regional and international initiatives are developing momentum.
cardin: that was positive..as long as we are there, and it isnt popular interna’lly…there isnt going to be the help…
crocker: but, but…the un mandate…
cardin: those countries disagree with our military policy
crocker: we’re facilitating their movement…they appreciate the security assets…
let’s decry moveon…blah blah
to g/p: we dont want to rush to failure; what gives you confidence that your redeply plan isnt a rush to failure?
gp: developments local…iraqi sec. forces…he doesnt want to bring up anbar again…!!!
vitter: our time in iraq…big ups and downs, and fewer troops than needed….why not more of a cushion? are we ending the surge too early?
gp: timing and locations…battlefield geometry..sense of strain on ground forces and families and other high-demand, low-density assets…we can do this based on progres..
but they cant find leaders. some units wont be at level, but capable of functioning…
same old same about polit stuff…
vitt: long-term u.s. ground force viability will benefit from drawdown as surge runs course…what does that mean? (from report)
gp: we need to help the military reconstitute some of its forces…i’ve been deployed for a while, too. captains and mid-grade nco who’ve served 2 tours and might have to go back…
vitt: crock, bottom-up lessons that are applicable to the cent govt? what are they? how do we get the c.g. to learn and act on them?
crock: cent govt is already supporting polit. change at grassroots level..
to gen: secur forc…you were the commander of the training mission in 04/05
gp: yes…clarifies dates
casey: you had to learn about the training mission
casey: the nie–quoting–judge the sec. forces h/n improved to perform w/o coalition support….any reason to refute? is that false?
gp: that’s correct. trying to rebuild entire system…institutional underpinnings not there..(whoopsie!!)
casey: jones report..independent…sec forces rely on coalition for combat support and supply chain mgt…not ready in 12-18 mos…gao finds increase in iraqi units not met….19.2 billion to train/equip…operational readiness in your own report (your chart)..’ready’ units h/n changed in past 18 mos…
when you see these…2 sources independent…juxtaposed with your statements…(reading out some of gp’s more optimistic statments)…comment on the frustration and the skepticism..
gp: appreciate the opportunity….tangible progress isnt an extraordinary statement to have gone from 0 to 8 or 9 units…were establishing a variety of structures…getting just slightly defensive talking fast…
operational readiness is based on ‘readiness’ (duh!)…interrupted..
casey: that still has to be the goal
gp: absolutely…cant fix shortcomings in time frame…i always qualified my optimism, and now im a realist
unit may never have all it needs to reach ‘oper. readiness one”…but it is still functionally operational…doing ok without meeting criteria.
using ‘judgement’, not criteria. blame sectarian violence. dont focus on criteria. trust me (paraphrased)
link to y’days comments
long day….armed services…
3 observations on hearings..and a question
…you understand we struggle b/c people with experience who always knew this was a strategic nightmare…trying to work ourselves out w/out destab’ing region…
…agree with senator obama about the anbar success associated with surge…his son was there and extended by surge..06 was tough..
…y’day’s hearings made me think of 02 hearings, which are what brought me into elected polit….gov’t always answers the ‘how long’ with ‘as long as necessary’….we want specifics…quotes eisenhower…’when comes the end…is there an end’ (korean war)…’early and honorable end’…
surge not a change in strategy without diplomatic effort….i dont see reconciliation..without those its simply a tactical adjustment…has disrupted rotational cycle…concerned for system and for the well-being of soldiers….2-for-1…
gp: id like to see our forces have more time with families…my jobs to accomplish military task within the policy..
webb: what is your view of 1:1 floor?
gp: the more time home, the better…im deployed too, i know what its like
webb: when deployments went to 15 mos gen casey said ‘we feed the strategy’. from the strategic side its’we build the strategy, they feed us the troops’…we need to shape the environment
gp: that informed my recommendation…some troops will come out sooner and not be replaced….the strain informs my recommendations…past and future…
people dont care about ‘the numbers’…they want to know when?
respect to you, you dont make policy…i dont see an honorable end….going to be at least 18 mos…sustaining these numbers for a couple of years if youre honest
admin not pushing diplomatic plan. generic plan of ‘stand up/stand down’ and ‘build strong cent govt’ isnt happening…
respect you both, great tactical jdgmnt…no plan to give the american people…no unity govt…still sect violence…
bye bye….i cant blog the armed serv…but i dont expect many new answers anyway…
on that paper. It seems most times the camera pans to him, he’s busy, busy, busy writing stuff done.