Scroll down for updates/liveblogging of hearing…2:45pm Eastern. I’m adding some of the key slides Gen. Petraeus used in his testimony (thanks to Jack Holt). Click to enlarge:
Want to send a thank-you card to Gen. Petraeus? Click on the envelope to sign:
Testimony starts at 9:30am. You can get the C-SPAN livestream here.
As Gen. David Petraeus heads to Capitol Hill, Bill Ardolino’s five-part series on political progress in Iraq— in the executive and legislative branches, on budget and oil legislation, the Unified Retirement Law, de-Baathification reform, the General Amnesty Law, the referendum on Kirkuk, the Provincial Powers Act and the Provincial Elections Law–is definitely worth your time. There will be so much sound and fury from Democrat demagogues who know nothing of what’s actually going on on the ground. See also my year-in-review piece on the surge, the military, and the media–from which I draw again on this telling reminder of a Fox News poll in mid-January 2007 that exposed which Americans were rooting for success and which Americans were rooting for defeat:
The RNC put out a video on “Politics vs. Petraeus:”
The WSJ editorializes on the Petraeus effect:
General Petraeus and his chief deputy, Lieutenant General Ray Odierno, pursued a strategy that secured the population while going on offense against al Qaeda. U.S. and Iraqi troops moved into neighborhoods and lived among Iraqis, who in turn began to supply valuable intelligence about the terrorists. Faster than even the surge’s architects hoped, the strategy led to far less violence.
While Democrats still claim political progress is possible only if the U.S. leaves Iraq, the surge has proved the opposite. Better security required a larger U.S. presence, which in turn has made Iraqis feel more secure about compromise. The political progress has been especially significant at the local level, with greater cooperation from tribal leaders and local councils, most Sunnis saying they’ll participate in provincial elections this fall, and more oil money flowing to the provinces from Baghdad.
Much remains to be done, of course, and a premature U.S. withdrawal would put these gains at risk.
Milblogger/documentarian JD Johannes has condensed “Anbar Awakens” to give the public and interested parties a more tangible view of the effects of the troop surge:
VFF “will hold America’s single largest gathering of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Participants will gather for a rally and media event and meet with their representatives to express their first hand experiences and explain why it is essential to complete the mission in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Where: Upper Senate Park
Meanwhile, Mookie has called off his “Million Man March” in Iraq.
Update 9:46am. McCain speaks. “We owe a great debt of gratitude” to Army Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker. “Success…is within reach.”
9:50am. Code Pinkos interrupt. Just like last time.
9:55am: McCain: “Congress must not choose to lose.” USAToday has audio of McCain’s statement.
Sen. Levin mistakenly calls Gen. Petraeus “Admiral.”
9:57am: Petraeus: Progress has been “fragile” and “reversible,” but “better than it was.” Sunni communities have increasingly rejected Sunni Al Qaeda. Awakenings have prompted tens of thousands of Iraqis to contribute to security. The recent flare-up in Basra highlighted Sadr ceasefire and the role Iran has played. Unchecked, they pose the greatest long-term threat to Iraq. Iraq’s ethno-sectarian competitions are influenced by many outside actors–a cancer that will spread if left unchecked.
10:12am: Petraeus: Withdrawing too many forces too quickly could jeopardizes gains made over the last year. A failed state in Iraq would pose serious consequences for the fight against al Qaeda.
Recommends a 45-day period of consolidation and evaulation in July (the “pause“). Make reductions as conditions permit. Does not allow for a timetable, but does allow for flexibility.
In closing: Addressing those serving in Iraq. “We have asked a great deal of them and their families. And they have made enormous sacrifices…All Americans should take pride in our men and women serving in Iraq…It remains the greatest honor to soldier with them.”
RedLasso has video of the first part of Gen. Petraeus’s testimony here.
10:26am: Ambassador Crocker testifying on political and economic gains and challenges. Political challenges: Refugees, rights of women and minorities, internal boundaries. “Iraq’s political progress will not be linear…changing dynamics within Shia community…in terms of economics and capacity building…revival of marketplaces and reopening of long-shuttered businesses…I remain convinced that a departure from our current course would mean failure…Iran has said publicly that it would fill any vacuum in Iraq…how we leave and what we leave will be more important than that we came…”
Questions from Senate panel.
10:42am. Sen. Levin calls Petraeus’s call for pause a “clear, open-ended pause.” Do you agree with Secy Gates that it would be “brief” or not? Levin is rude and sanctimonious. “He used the word brief. You are not. That is deliberate.”
Petraeus: I am not using the word “brief” or the word “pause.”
Levin: How long? Petraeus trying to answer. Could it be three months?
At the end of the period of evaluation and consolidation, it could be right then.
HECKLERS: BRING THEM HOME! BRING THEM HOME!
Levin barely lifts a finger to remove the heckler.
10:47am Eastern. Was the Iraqi govt operation in Basra adequately planned?
Petraeus: No question it could have been better planned. Levin is heckling Petraeus. Could you give me a direct answer?
Petraeus repeats: It could have been.
So this is the Democrat strategy for today: Heckle the general about Basra, allow outside hecklers to pile on.
10:58am Eastern. Sen. Kennedy takes two minutes to ask a question about bilateral agreements between the US and the Iraq and then tells Ambassador Crocker to hurry up and answer before he has a chance to open his mouth.
11:02am Eastern. Now, Sen. Windbag asks questions of Gen. Petraeus about Basra and cuts him off as he tries to answer.
Tom Elia is keeping a protester interruption scorecard.
11:12am Eastern. Joe Lieberman responds to his Democrat colleagues. Their attitude is “Hear no progress in Iraq, see no progress in Iraq, speak of no progress in Iraq.” I wish we could have agreement on the charts you have shown, the facts you have told us…we’ve got to give some credit for that.”
12:06pm Eastern. Bill Nelson takes an eternity to ask whether political reconciliation has happened. Guess he was snoozing while Crocker testified. I mentioned this morning that Bill Ardolino’s in-depth assessment of political progress was worth reading. The series should be sent to every member of Congress.
12:35pm Eastern. Hillary bloviates: “I think it could be fair to say that it might well be irresponsible to continue the policy that has not produced the results that have been promised time and time again, at such tremendous cost to our national security and to the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States military.”
1:03pm Eastern. The Left is having a field day with what appears to be another Sunni/Shia flub from McCain. Ugh:
5:25pm Eastern. Barack Obama’s turn to grandstand. He also interrupts Petraeus in the middle of his answer to Obama’s question about whether al Qaeda will ever try to reconstitute.