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Live Blogging Petreaus Hearing


By David Swanson
Background on this event: http://www.betrayusreport.com

See also live blogging at Yellow Rose Peace Bus

Update on Reverend Lennox Yearwood: Although the video below shows 8 police officers assaulting him, he has been charged with felony assaulting a police officer! This is outrageous. Also, they severely strained but did not break his ankle.

I asked the House Armed Services Committee staff why they permit hundreds of reporters to use laptops in their hearings but are afraid to allow a single member of the public to turn one on. I couldn't get a straight answer.

Post hearing update: Toward the end of the hearing Rep. Brad Sherman asked Petraeus what he would do if Congress ended funding for the occupation and Bush ordered Petraeus to continue with it anyway. Petraeus wimped out and said he would have to ask his lawyer. Sherman also said that he expects to receive a lengthy report from the White House by the 15th as required by law. Petraeus said he had seen a draft of it, and that it did not vary in any substantive way from what he and Crocker submitted to the White House.

The best comments I heard were from Rep. Abercrombie, but I didn't hear any particularly good questioning of witnesses from anyone.

Comment sent to me by Pete Perry: "I left the House Cannon Office Building about an hour ago. At that point those arrested included: Cindy Sheehan, DeeDee Miller (her sister), Desiree Fairooz, Rev. Lennox Yearwood. Rev. Yearwood (HipHop Caucus) was apparently thrown to the ground when he tried to enter the hearing room. Then eight police officers piled on top of him and injured him. One Code Pinker thought Rev's ankle might have been broken. When I got inside the building Gael Murphy was talking with Rep. John Lewis (the great Civil Rights leader). I
thanked him for all his work. Gael told him about the situation with Rev. and John Lewis asked which hospital and was trying to make room in his schedule to go visit the Rev. There were a few more Code Pinkers in the room when I left."

[Hip Hop Caucus
Contact: Liz Havstad – liz@hiphopcaucus.org or 510 206 6749
Capitol Hill Police “football tackled” Hip Hop Activist who was in line to enter hearing room for General Petreaus’ testimony on Capitol Hill
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., president of the Hip Hop Caucus, was attacked by six capitol police today, when he was stopped from entering the Cannon Caucus Room on Capitol Hill, where General Petreaus gave testimony today to a joint hearing for the House Arms Services Committee and Foreign Relations Committee on the war in Iraq.
After waiting in line throughout the morning for the hearing that was scheduled to start at 12:30pm, Rev. Yearwood was stopped from entering the room, while others behind him were allowed to enter. He told the officers blocking his ability to enter the room, that he was waiting in line with everyone else and had the right to enter as well. When they threatened him with arrest he responded with “I will not be arrested today.” According to witnesses, six capitol police, without warning, “football tackled” him. He was carried off in a wheel chair by DC Fire and Emergency to George Washington Hospital.
Rev. Yearwood said as he was being released from the hospital to be taken to central booking, "The officers decided I was not going to get in Gen. Petreaus' hearing when they saw my button, which says 'I LOVE THE PEOPLE OF IRAQ.'"
Capitol Police are not saying what the charges are, but an inside source has said that the charge is assaulting a police officer. Rev. Yearwood is scheduled to be transferred to Central Processing to be arraigned tomorrow morning.
For further information contact: Liz Havstad at liz@hiphopcaucus.org or 510 206 6749. ]

Comment sent to me by Erik Leaver: "Hey, you might have missed this but as the break started because of the mic there was discussion between skelton & hunter & skelton's mic was on--
Skelton & hunter as skelton left his mic on
Skelton "they are really pissing me off"
Hunter: they are all part of this code pink stuff
Hopefully someone has it taped as you could hear it clearly if you jacked the volumn up."

Side comment: I published this column today in the Examiner, a DC newspaper. It's being passed around on Capitol Hill today.

3:15 p.m. update:

They would not allow any of the 20 members of the public allowed into a room of hundreds of reporters and staffers to use computers. Most reporters had out computers. The public could not. The public also could not have copies of Petraeus's report. he did have a report, although not a very long one, and one that did not mention most of the nation-building benchmarks. Whether Bush will have an additional report on the 15th nobody dared ask. Nobody dared much at all. They didn't even put Petraeus or Crocker under oath, even though their lies had been predicted and predicted quite accurately. I was surprised at the extent to which Petraeus pushed the lies about Iran, and I was startled when he bragged about the amount of US weapons sales to Iraq. Otherwise, he made just the claims everyone had said he would. He didn't mention oil or elections or anything of that sort. I don't think the word "oil" was uttered until about 10 minutes ago, and then only in passing.

At 12:30 they let us in, and the Armed Services staff forbid me to use my laptop. They had told the many dozens of people waiting in the hallway that there would be 39 seats. There were 20. As people were thrown out, new people were brought in, so more than 20 members of the public got a glimpse.

Code Pink activist Desiree Fairooz of Arlington, Texas, was trown out right away for shouting something. As they ushered her out, she shouted "War Criminal" repeatedly.

Skelton opened with rambling mumbling but did mention the new poll of Iraqis.

12:41 Skelton praised Petraeus and blamed Iraqis.

12:45 Lantos praised both Petraeus and Crocker. (The signs activists had brought in read "Petraeus Don't Betray Us" and "What a Crock").

Lantos did say he did not believe Petraeus' expected claims, and cited the GAO report and Jones Commission. He said the escalation had failed. Then he went back to blaming Maliki (setting the stage for Bush to pick a new puppet).

Lantos concluded "It is time to go and to go now." Right on.

[Lantos video.]

1 pm Duncan Hunter attacked recent criticisms of Petraeus including today's ad in the NY Times from Moveon. Hunter claimed that to question Petraeus's bald faced lies is to attack all 160,000 troops.

1:04 pm Ross-L. praised her family members in the military and their mission in Iraq and claimed a connection to 9-11. She said "I trust your reporting and that of our troops on the ground." There were some vets sitting by me, but no reports from any troops on the ground ever appeared in the room.

Again she attacked Moveon and demanded that Democrats apologize.

1:15 Petraeus' microphone doesn't work. And the Congress Members and media don't have his report. It's unclear whether there is a report.

IT's become clear that the witnesses will not be sworn in.

"Swear em in!" shouted CIA vet Ray McGovern.

Cops dragged Ray out.

['Swear Him In' Provokes Expulsion
By Ray McGovern, www.consortiumnews.com
September 10, 2007
“Swear him in.” That’s all I said in the unusual silence this afternoon as first aid was being administered to Gen. David Petraeus’s microphone at the hearing before the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees.
It had dawned on me that when House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Missouri, invited Gen. Petraeus to make his presentation, Skelton forgot to ask him to take the customary oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I had no idea that would be enough to get me thrown out of the hearing.
I had a flashback to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in early 2006, when Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, reminded chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, that Specter had forgotten to swear in the witness, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; and how Specter insisted that that would not be necessary.
Now that may, or may not, be an invidious comparison. But Petraeus and Gonzales work for the same boss, who has a rather unusual relationship with the truth. How many of his senior staff could readily be convicted, as was the hapless-and-now-commuted Scooter Libby, of perjury?
So I didn’t think twice about it. I really thought that Skelton perhaps forgot, and that the 10-minute interlude of silence while they fixed the microphone was a good chance to raise this seemingly innocent question.
The more so since the ranking Republican representatives had been protesting too much. In the obverse of “killing the messenger,” they had been canonizing the messenger with protective fire.
Ranking Armed Services Committee member Duncan Hunter, R-California, began what amounted to a SWAT-team attack on the credibility of those who dared attack the truthfulness of the sainted Petraeus, and issued a special press release decrying a full-pager in the New York Times equating Petraeus with “Betray-us.”
Hunter served notice on any potential doubters, insisting that Petraeus’s “capability, integrity, intelligence...are without question.” And Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, echoed that theme, unwittingly choosing another infelicitous almost-homonym for the charges against Petraeus—“outrageous.”
Indeed, Hunter’s prepared statement, which he circulated before the hearing, amounted to little more than a full-scale “duty-honor-country” panegyric for the general.
On the chance we did not hear him the first time, Hunter kept repeating how “independent” Petraeus is, how candid and full of integrity, and compared him to famous generals who testified to Congress in the past—Eisenhower, MacArthur, and Schwarzkopf. Advisedly, Hunter avoided any mention of Gen. William Westmoreland, commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, who fell tragically short on those traits. See Consortiumnews.com’s “Is Petraeus Today’s Westmoreland.”
If memory serves, the aforementioned generals and Westmoreland were required to testify under oath. And this was one of the main sticking points when CBS aired a program showing that Westmoreland had deliberately dissembled on the strength of Communist forces and U.S. “progress” in the war.
When Westmoreland sued CBS for libel, several of his subordinates came clean, and Westmoreland quickly dropped the suit. The analogy with Westmoreland—justifying a White House wish to persist in an unwinnable war —is the apt one here.
If Petraeus is so honest and full of integrity, what possible objection could he have to being sworn in?
I had not the slightest hesitation being sworn in when testifying before the committee assembled by Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, on June 16, 2005. Should generals be immune? Or did his masters wish to give him a little more assurance that he could play fast and loose with the truth without the consequences encountered by Scooter Libby.
With the microphone finally fixed, it quickly became clear. Petraeus tried to square a circle in his very first two paragraphs.
In the first, he thanks the committees for the opportunity to “discuss the recommendations I recently provided to my chain of command for the way forward.” Then he stretches credulity well beyond the breaking point—at least for me:
“At the outset, I would like to note that this is my testimony. Although I have briefed my assessment and recommendations to my chain of command, I wrote this testimony myself. It has not been cleared by, nor shared with, anyone in the Pentagon, the White House, or Congress.”
Is not the Commander-in-Chief in Petraeus’s chain of command?
As Harry Truman, D-Missouri, would have said, “Does he think we were born yesterday?”
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Savior in Washington, DC. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer in the early sixties and then a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990. He had a front-seat for the charades orchestrated by Westmoreland in Vietnam. His e-mail is RRMcGovern@aol.com.]

Adam Kokesh has a sign that reads "Generals Lie, Soldiers Die." Cops dragged him out while he shouted "Swear em in! Why do you still believe these people?"

1:20 still no working microphone. Congress Members are sqabbling on the dais over who has the report and the charts.

1:28 now the press has the report

predictable lies that have been debunked

sectarian violence down

civilian deaths down

we should end the surge next summer

we can achieve our objectives in Iraq [whch are...?]

pusuing al qaeda

al qaeda al qaeda al qaeda

iran iran iran

kuds force

proxy war

blah blah

"That's a lie" shouts Leslie Angelina, code pinker from California, standing on her chair. She's dragged out.

iraqi security forces growing and improving

a new peace activist fills each empty seat

1:48 pm shameless bragging about how many weapons US is selling to Iraq

progress

momentum

"force reductions as the surge runs its course."

[colateral damage: the English language]

mid-July 2008 back to pre-surge level

beyond that impossible to predict

Medea Benjamin stands on her chair and shouts: "The American people don't believe you! We want an end to this war." A cop grabs her off her chair from behind.

"Bring the troops home now!"

Three more actiists stand and shout and get arrested. Mona Hall screams painfully: "I have a right to speak out! This is America, not Russia!"

Crocker starts his statement.

2:34 I've left and am listening on the radio. Skelton says the laws have not been passed (presumably meaning on oil etc) and asks why the next 6 months will be any different from the past.

Crocker says we're slowly making progress blah blah.

Lantos: "I vant to spank both of our vitnesses..." He asks in his endearing accent about an intermediate speed withdrawal, not too slow and not to fast, but just the right amount of bodies.

Petraeus claims he proposed a very substantial withdrawal when he said to go back to pre-surge full-occupation level by next summer.

Lantos then wanted to ask about a faster withdrawl than that, but rather than speak for himself or his constituents, he claimed that other generals favored a speedy withdrawal, including Admiral Fallon. Petraeus denied it and said they all agreed with him.

Lantos asked Crocker why he doesn't try some diplomacy. Crocker said you can't work with the Iranians.

________________

________

10:22 a.m. Both lines growing fast.

10:15 a.m. There are now a couple of dozen people in the public line, including more Code Pink and IVAW and other peace activists, including Geoff Millard, Adam Kokesh, Medea Benjamin, Barbara Cummings, etc., and five reporters in the press line. A McClatchy reporter just interviewed some of us.

8:00 a.m. There are dozens of "news" reporters and camera crews and congressional staffers and capitol police scurryign about setting up for a 12:30 event. There is a line for the public. In it are four people, all of them members of Code Pink wearing pink. I'm number 5. I have a pink crown that reads "No Lies."

_________

THIS JUST IN FROM THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS ACTION FUND:

Petraeus's Song And Dance
Today, Gen. David Petraeus begins his much-anticipated report to Congress on progress in Iraq. His appearance marks the most high-profile appearance of a war general on Capitol Hill since Gen. William Westmoreland testified on April 28th, 1967, that America was making progress in Vietnam. Petraeus is expected to make a similar argument about the Bush administration's efforts in Iraq, rebuffing calls for a redeployment of U.S. troops and arguing that the troop buildup should be kept in place until at least spring 2008. Yet already there is reason to be skeptical of the "facts" he will use to back-up his claims of success, with reports that the administration has watered down reports, taken undeserved credit for progress on the ground, and fudged statistics. Approximately 66 percent of the American public believe President Bush will stick with his policy no matter what Petraeus reports, and 53 percent say Petraeus will try to make things in Iraq look better than they are. Sixty-five to 70 percent of Iraqis say escalation has "worsened rather than improved security, political stability and the pace of redevelopment alike."

MYTH #1 -- SECTARIAN DEATHS IN BAGHDAD HAVE DROPPED 75 PERCENT SINCE 2006: In late August, Petraeus told The Australian that "there had been a 75 per cent reduction in religious and ethnic killings since last year." He is expected to make a similar claim today. Yet reports indicate that the Pentagon may be undercounting sectarian deaths. Intelligence analysts who computed "aggregate levels of violence against civilians" for the recent National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) "puzzled over how the military designated attacks as combat, sectarian or criminal." "If a bullet went through the back of the head, it's sectarian," said one senior intelligence official. "If it went through the front, it's criminal." The Pentagon's sectarian violence numbers also exclude Sunni on Sunni violence, Shiite on Shiite violence, and car bombs. In an April interview, Bush attempted to explain his subjective rationale for excluding car bombs: "If the standard of success is no car bombings or suicide bombings, we have just handed those who commit suicide bombings a huge victory." The number of car bombings have actually increased five percent since December. Additionally, the NIE found that conflict levels in Baghdad "have diminished to some extent" because of widespread ethnic cleansing.

MYTH #2 -- SECTARIAN DEATHS REACHED MORE THAN 1,600 IN DEC. 2006: Not only is the Pentagon underreporting recent sectarian deaths, it also raising the number of past incidents in order to make the "reduction" seem more impressive. In March, the Pentagon's quarterly report estimated that in Dec. 2006 -- right before the President announced his escalation -- "there were about 1,300 sectarian slayings across Iraq." But in its June report, "the Pentagon revised the December 2006 death toll to more than 1,600. That change makes the decline to about 600 in April -- after the surge began -- even more dramatic." Much of the Pentagon's data and methodology is classified. Last week, Goverment Accountability Office comptroller David Walker told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that there are "several different sources within the administration" who "do not agree" on levels of violence. He added that he "could not get comfortable" with the way the Pentagon calculated such a steep drop in sectarian violence.

MYTH #3 -- SECTARIAN DEATHS ARE DECLINING ACROSS THE COUNTRY: Despite the government's claim that Baghdad casualties are dramatically dropping, war-related deaths throughout Iraq have doubled compared with last year, rising to "an average daily toll of 33 in 2006, and 62 so far this year." "Bombings, sectarian slayings and other violence related to the war killed at least 1,773 Iraqi civilians in August, the second month in a row that civilian deaths have risen." Additionally, the recent NIE found that over the next six to 12 months, "levels of insurgent and sectarian violence will remain high."

MYTH #4 -- BUSH'S ESCALATION IS RESPONSIBLE FOR PROGRESS IN ANBAR: One of the success stories Petraeus will likely highlight is the reduced violence in the Anbar province, which was once the "heartland" of the Sunni insurgency. Last week, Bush made a surprise visit to the region and used it to argue that the troop buildup should not be cut short. "In Anbar you're seeing firsthand the dramatic differences that can come when the Iraqis are more secure," said Bush. But the administration's policies had little to do with Anbar's progress. As the Washington Post noted yesterday, "The sheik who forged the alliance with the Americans, Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi, traced the decision to fight al-Qaeda to Sept. 14, 2006, long before the new Bush strategy, but the president's plan dispatched another 4,000 U.S. troops to Anbar to exploit the situation. As security improved, the White House eagerly took credit." Last week, CNN correspondent Michael Ware also noted that the Sunni insurgency in Anbar offered to work with U.S. troops -- not the Iraqi government -- to fight al Qaeda in 2003, but the United States rejected the offer. Only "after four years of bloodshed" was the United States "finally ready to accept those terms."

MYTH #5 -- AL QAEDA IN IRAQ IS 'PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE': In July, Bush referred to al Qaeda 95 times in a single speech, claiming the war in Iraq has become the central front in the fight against al Qaeda (AQ-I). Echoing Bush, Petraeus recently argued that al Qaeda is "public enemy number one" in Iraq, and will likely make a similar claim to Congress this week. But in a new report, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) notes that attacks from al Qaeda are only a small percentage of the violence in Iraq, criticizing the Bush administration's statistics and noting that this false reporting on AQ-I has increased since Bush's "surge" began. "Increasingly in 2007, U.S. commanders have seemed to equate AQ-I with the insurgency, even though most of the daily attacks are carried out by Iraqi Sunni insurgents," concluded CRS.

________________

THIS JUST IN FROM LARRY JOHNSON:

Dave Petraeus and Iraq Kabuki
By Larry Johnson on Sep 10, 2007 in Current Affairs | Edit

The die is cast with respect to Iraq and the surge. There will be no substantive change until April of 2008, when the 15 month deployment of the “surge” force of 30,000 comes to an end. General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, attended by Senators and pliant members of the media, will take center stage in today’s so-called drama, Iraq Kabuki. Kabuki is a type of popular Japanese drama “in which elaborately costumed performers use stylized movements, dances, and songs in order to enact tragedies and comedies.” Today’s presentation in Washington will include heated rhetoric and self-righteous indignation but, when the day ends, the guy with an earnest face and a chest full of medals will have the high road and the Senators who attack him will be roundly booed as troop haters who are undermining the morale of our soldiers in combat.

Truth and facts do not really matter. Disagree? Please go back and watch what happened to Lt. Colonel Oliver North when Congress tussled with him as they tried to get to the bottom of the Iran Contra scandal.

Today’s presentation ostensibly is about our alleged progress in Iraq. But this argument is not about facts. If facts and ground truth were important then there would be no argument.

The facts are clear. Attacks on civilians have continued unabated notwithstanding the surge, according to the GAO report. And there has been no significant political progress in Iraq in terms of reconciling Sunni and Shia communities in Iraq.

Then there is the report from retired Marine General James Jones detailing the inadequacies and corruption of the Iraqi police. Notwithstanding progress in building a new Iraqi army, its capabilities are very limited and not likely to improve dramatically in the near future.

We also have Dave Kilcullen, an Austrailian special forces type who is working with Petraeus, who acknowledges that the so called success in Al Anbar has nothing to do with the surge and is an unexpected result of local tribes retaliating against foreign jihadists who murdered local tribal leaders and their families. In addition, countries with an interest in bolstering the Sunni tribes, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, have provided finance and support.

Then we have the fact that Petraeus and company are cherry picking the data and deliberately painting a false, rosy picture that security in Iraq is better and the the violence is abating. Of course he achieved this result by excluding car bombs and other sectarian casualties from the calculation.

The arguing over the troop deployment masksthe real issue–i.e., what should be the role of the United States in Iraq? The die is cast for the U.S. military in Iraq. We are coming up against some reality imposed deadlines. For example, by the spring of 2008 the United States will withdraw 30,000 troops from Iraq and does not have reserve forces to replace them. The withdrawal of those troops will mean diminished U.S. influence in those areas where the draw down will occur, regardless of whether or not the “surge” is working. The withdrawal of British forces from southern Iraq further strains the tactical demands on U.S. forces. The Shia militia, with Iranian support and meddling, will fight for a new staus quo in the area with minimal U.S. involvement. But this also means that the logistics resupply line that runs from Kuwait to Baghdad will be under the potential control of Shia militia and criminal gangs. So far they have not tried to shut down the resupply routes.

Then there is the issue of rules of engagement in Iraq for US troops. Currently, US special operations forces have some freedom to carry out unilateral operations. But the freedom is going to be curtailed, either because the political powers that be in the sectarian sections of Iraq will insist on limiting what the US can do or, at the national level, what passes for an Iraqi government will chafe at US actions and try to impose limits. Conventional military missions run the gambit from convoy security and patrols against suspected terrorist cells.

The biggest problem, in my view, is that the current mission of U.S. forces in Iraq continues to foster the perception that we are attacking Iraqis. Our troops should not be the ones conducting broad base raids on suspected terrorist targets in Iraq. Invariably much of our effort is counterproductive. We end up antagonizing those we attack. We end up incarcerating them and being perceived, fairly or not, as acting on behalf of the Shia or the Sunni. And to the extent that we provide security for operations carried out by corrupt police or military units, we ultimately get the blame for those actions as well.

The recommendations of General Jones provide an important map forward. We need a revamped and serious police/military training program that is handled by special forces with skills for the Arab world. Up to this point the Arabists in the Army have been marginalized in this effort.

We are past the watershed moment for Iraq. It is in the process of becoming what the former Yugoslovia is now–ethnic enclaves. There is no political leader with the clout or stature to unify the nation.

The United States must accept that we do not have sufficient military forces to impose a unified, national political system in Iraq. We need to accept that our current efforts to empower the tribes in Al Anbar will antagonize the Shia government in Baghdad and help forge closer ties between Iraq and Iran. We need to accept that our efforts to build a government in Baghdad have in turn strengthened the hand of Iran in the region and fueled great concern in Saudi Arabia and Jordan.

We are faced with the task of making chicken salad out of chicken shit. There are difficult issues facing us in Iraq regardless of whether we keep our troops there or withdraw them. We need to be asking what a policy should look like going forward that will serve our broader regional interests. Can we encourage political stability in Iraq that will not further inflame regional instability and heighten tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran?

I am doubtful the hearings this week will achieve little other than trapping the Democrats as defeatists who want to sale out America to the terrorists. That’s the storyline the Bush Administration will push and the media, by and large, appears willing to repeat unchallenged.

But this silly theater ignores serious, longterm problems confronting us in Iraq. We do not have a large enough Army to impose a political settlement in Iraq. Iraq cannot be fixed with military power. Arresting and incarcerating tens of thousands of Iraqis simply aggravates the tensions and fosters resentments and insults that, in terms of the culture, demands vengeance and recovered honor. A political settlement in Iraq is not possible without the assistance of Syria, Iran, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia. These are not new facts. The Iraq Survey Group pointed that out last year. But despite the facts, nothing significant is likely to change vis-a-vis Washington. The Democrats lack the unity and the Republicans lack the integrity to confront the realities of Iraq.

One thing is certain–American soldiers will continue to die in Iraq and sometime next year, we will still be wrestling with the same basic question. Who lost Iraq?

___________________

THIS JUST IN FROM THE CO-CHAIRS OF THE CONGRESSIONAL PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS:

Congressional Progressive Caucus
http:cpc.lee.house.gov/ or congressionalprogressivecaucus.org ___________________________________________________________________
72 Strong and Growing: Open to New and Different Ideas

Contact: Chris Shields
202-225-5187

WOOLSEY CALLS ON HOUSE COLLEAGUES TO FORCE A FULLY FUNDED WITHDRAWAL OF US TROOPS & MILITARY CONTRACTORS FROM IRAQ

Washington, DC - The Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) today issued the following statement in response to the testimony by General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker:
“No amount of sugar coating and spin can change one simply fact - four years after the President’s invasion of Iraq our troops are caught in the midst of a civil war with no end in sight, and it’s up to the US Congress to use the power of the purse to force the President to bring them home.
“Those of us in Congress have the power, and the responsibility, to make sure that the only funding that we approve is used to fully fund the safe and orderly withdrawal of our troops and military contractors and bring them home to their families. The American public voted Democrats into office last November on this very issue, and it is far past time that we live up to the trust that they have shown in us.
“If we fail to stand up to the President, we will fail our country politically, morally and economically.”

Barbara Lee: Petraeus Walks in Powell’s Footsteps
Debate on Military Progress Distracts from Impossibility of Military Solution
Contact: Nathan Britton
(202-225-2661)

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement in response to the testimony today of General David Petraeus before a joint session of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees:

“I am afraid that with his testimony today, General David Petraeus may be following in the footsteps of former Secretary of State Colin Powell and I fear that he may face the same fate, namely that of respected military man whose credibility is forever tarnished for propping up the Bush administration’s disastrous policy in Iraq.

“In fact, the White House’s effort to buy more time for the President’s surge policy is premised on the credibility of General Petraeus himself, and not the string of cherry-picked numbers being deployed this week. If the Pentagon or the administration had any confidence in the numbers that ostensibly show progress – which have been contradicted by every other independent assessment – they would release the data and the methodology used for arriving at them. It is telling that they have not.

“The debate about alleged military progress in Iraq is a distraction – a smokescreen – that only serves to obscure the basic, fundamental fact that there is no military solution to the situation in Iraq.

“Our troops are trapped in a civil war and occupation, a situation where there can be no ‘victory.’ Our continued presence there is not only breaking our military, it is undermining our national security and our efforts to fight international terrorism.

“Congress has the power to end to the Bush administration’s failed policy in Iraq. We should not approve another penny to continue that policy. Instead, we should use our constitutionally-mandated appropriations power to provide all the money necessary to fully fund the safe, timely and responsible redeployment of our troops and contractors from Iraq.”

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11:34 AM CST - Protestors removed from Chamber. Attendees warned that there will be no disruptions in the Chamber. Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton now addressing Chamber as to the readiness costs of the American deployments. He is currently citing the 65% of Iraqis who say American presence is making the situation worse.

Chairman Skelton is observing that the war must be worth the American commitment and that it is disappointing that the "Iraqis have not stepped up to the plate."

Chairman Skelton is emphasizing to General Petraeus the importance of his answers to the Chairman's general observations.

Mic turned over to Rep. Tom Lantos, (D) Chairman, Foreign Affairs Cmte.

Rep. Lantos reflecting on Gen. Petraeus' Gulf I comments that the unguarded ammo dumps left behind "may come back to haunt us." Rep. Lantos said that Gen. Petraeus (GP hereafter) was correct.

Before hearing GP, Rep. Lantos says: "I don't buy it."

One thing that can end this terrible civil conflict, it is a political solution - and that time has been squandered. Maliki hasn't moved toward compromise.

Instead of acting as a leader for all of Iraq, he has acted as a front man for Shiite control. This isn't what Americans had in mind.

Lantos notes Maliki's close ties to Iran, after noting Maliki's boast that he can find "other friends" if US leaves.

America should not be in the position of funding both sides of a religious civil war.

Crocker and Petraeus look uncomfortable and pale.

"We need to get out of Iraq, for their sake and for ours."

Rep. Hunter (Rep. Presidential candidate) is reflecting that the past week has been spent in character assassination of Gen.Petraeus. This goes against the tradition of this House.

Rep. Hunter particularly offended by Gen. Petraeus being called "General Betrayus" noted in NY Times ad by Moveon.org .

Rep. Hunter notes that GP stands for "duty, honor, country."

Hunter says key to stabilized Iraq that won't be a haven for terrorism is a reliable Iraqi force, now maturing.

Hunter wants stipulation that GP represents "the best in military tradition...candid testimony in the tradition of McArthur and Schwartkopf."

How could he say that GP is "the best in military tradition...candid testimony in the tradition of McArthur and Schwartkopf" when he told more bald-faced lies throughout the hearing?

Let's face it, this "hearing" was a dog-and-pony show created by the WH in order to take the American public's mind off of the fact that millions of their fellow citizens are about to be kicked out of their homes due to the explosion of the sub-prime mortgage and consumer credit card debt bubbles, which also threaten to take down the Federal and state chartered banks.

At least MacArthur and Schwartzkopf (with all of their faults) were men of true valor and honor, which GP most definitely is NOT!

First Cuban American woman in Congress. She supports the war in Iraq. States that it is distressing that this hearing highlights the difference between those who support and those who don't support "the military." She states she trusts GP reports over others that report. Decries personal attacks on General Petraeus as "General Betrayus."

She cites an "unnamed Democratic" representative who allegedly said that no one wants to call GP a "liar" but "we are depending on others to do that for us." (paraphrased?)

Stop Her!!!!!....She is using Tom Cruise's witchcraft to put a spell on us....

Microphone being adjusted. (Don't these folks test things ahead of time?)

CNN's Gergin stating that some Dems have made a concerted effort to disparage Gen. Petraeus. He thinks Moveon.org made a mistake by doing that.

Gergin noting that GP wrote a book on counter-insurgency. Unfair to load up on GP before hearing him.

Going to 5 min break to tweak the mics.

Gen Petraeus begins with his summary of points:

This is MY testimony. Not shared until now.

alQaeda has suffered a number of defeats in Iraq.

Iraqi deaths declined, though still at troubling levels.

Iraqi ranks generally fighting and standing and taking tough losses.

GP believes that we can reduce troop levels to pre-surge levels by next spring.

Chart showing security challenges in Iraq.

Past as prologue to the future.

"My chart is the most authoritative information."

Noting decline in ethnocentric deaths by 55%.

Iraqi forces continuing to grow. 140 Iraqi batalions contributing to efforts; many operate with minimum US assistance.

Currently 445K Iraqis on the payrolls; adding 40K more.

Summary: security situation improving; US will be in position to reduce US forces.

Military is accomplishing mission. Success requires conventional and sp ops forces.

Strategic considerations: political success will only occur with security.

GP recommends troop drawdown. Projects 15 combat brigades before mid-summer next year, returning to pre-surge levels.

Securing Iraqi people while transitioning Iraqi military top priority.

Thanks troops.

Thanks Congress and tells it how much the Congressional expenditures have assisted him with his mission.

GP stopped by Chairman Skelton while more protestors removed from the rear of the hall. Entire group removed although one person was protesting.

One protestor screaming. Chairman Skelton says all will be prosecuted under DC laws.

(Pauses while some disturbance continues).

Crocker: Stable Iraq attainable.

Trend is upwards; process will not be quick, will require substantial US resolve and commitment. Success will only be recognized in retrospect.

Reviews history and likens Iraq to get moments in American history, like civil rights.

Reviewing Saddam Hussein's reign, all tied to "regime protection."

Notes legacy as Saddam statute came down.

"Iraq is and will remain for some time to come, a traumatized society."

Much remains unclear both in law and practice. Budding debate about federalism among Iraqis. No longer is an all-powerful Baghdad seen as the answer to all problems.

Focus on sectarian financial gains has led to situations that don't serve the Iraqi people well.

Seeds of reconciliation being planted.

Central gov't sharing oil revenues on an equitable basis with Iraqi provinces.

We shouldn't be surprised that the Iraqis haven't settled all the issues. Crocker thinks Iraqis have the will to do it.

Supports Maliki et al. as patriots.

Says Iraqi leaders want long-terms presence by "multi-national" forces and long-term relationship with US.

Tribal leaders turned from alQaeda for its ruthlessness: cutting off fingers for smoking, etc.

Shia extremists also facing rejection.

A key task now is to link the good things happening in the provinces to the central Baghdad government.

Requires money sharing from central government in Baghdad to provinces. Anbar funding by central government up 70%.

Cell phones are hot; good revenues to government.

Electricity is poor; some areas only 2 hours power/day.

(What has happened to the reconstruction funding??)

USAID funding provides thousands of jobs throughout the country. Community building, vocational training and micro-funding underway.

Diplomatic level:

expanding international and regional engagement with Iraq.

Neighboring is occurring.

Iraq is exporting oil through Turkey and the Persian Gulf.

"Iran plays a harmful role in Iraq."

"Surge has helped in Iraq."

Need more time, but no guarantee of success.

What could happen if failure?

More bloodshed.

Iran a winner, getting resources and territory.

Current situation hard; but failure worse.

Thanking Congress for support.

Now detailing what Congress should send money for.

Jobs and community development.

Build and preventively maintain infrastructure.

Chairman Skelton says "Iraqis are sitting on their thumbs while American service people die!"

Asks Crocker why it will be different in the next 6 months.

Crocker says doesn't see rapid progress through these benchmarks. Must maintain attitude of flexibility.

Remember surge only hit full-stride in month of June. Need more time.

to GP: specific question from Lantos:

GP has juxtaposed staged vs. rapid withdrawal - question: Comment on an intermediate course.

GP responds: I've detailed a substantial withdrawal. Aware of war stresses on ground troops.

Lantos clarifying: responsible news and active and retired military members favor more rapid withdrawal. Lantos says slower withdrawal doesn't take into account readiness needs in other areas.

GP admits his recommendations don't take into account troop readiness and needs in other areas; not his area of responisbility.

Lantos to Crocker: Let's explore possibility of a "diplomatic surge."

Lantos reflects on successes of Congressional diplomatic initiatives while reflecting that administration is hostile to diplomacy.

Question to Crocker: how about it with Iran?

Crocker: Been there, Crocker got no impression that Iranians are interested in serious diplomatic steps. Crocker hasn't seen any serious or earnest interest now by Iranians; might happen in future.

Duncan: Where do we stand now?

GP: Some battalions may not be operationally ready, but they are also taking heavy casualities. There is an unevenness still about the Iraqi army. By and large the Iraqi army is fighting and standing and taking casualites.

GP supports expansion of the Iraqi army; notes that Iraq is offering possible initiatives to improve recruitment and retention of staff officers; increased capacity needed and it is being provided.

Sunni Arabs now volunteering for Iraqi army or police.

Some sectarian influence remains; Maliki determined to deal with that.

Duncan: Deadly military equipment continues to flow from Iran. Has that increased or decreased?

GP: We believe it has increased after a short drop off. No signs of that abating.

5 min break after Rep.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) opens by offering Dems opportunity to disavow themselves from "despicable" ads dissing General Petraeus.

Unidentified male voice jumped in to say that no one has to disavow themselves from something they weren't involved in, when Rep. Ros-Lehtinen muttered "Take it easy!"

GP: We want to avoid Iraq becoming an al-Qaeda sanctuary. Our forces have made it possible to clear places like Baqoba, especially using locals to clear territories.

Want to avoid more sectarian violence and secure oil deliveries.

Syria has allowed fighters to come from a variety of other countries; some signs of reduction. Many of them have become suicide bombers.

Iran funding and directing militia activities; those are criminal activities that US will seek to address with Iraqis.

Interdicting money going from Iran to Iraq.

Crocker: Looking forward to ministerial meeting in NY in two weeks to reinforce what must be done in Iraq. First non-coalition visits by high-ranking ministers may indicate an increasing recognition of the importance of the outcomes in Iraq.

Crocker reinforces that the Iraqi process will continue with or without US involvement, affecting Iraqi stability and some American interests.

5 min. break now.

Commentator said 4 protesters arrested, including Cindy Sheehan. WaPo reporting other protesters arrested were:

"...Desiree Fairooz of the District and Christy Anne Miller, a California resident and Sheehan's sister...Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr."...(TV commentator said male transported to hospital after complaining of injuries)

For the great long-distance blogging!

THANKS!!! Great play by play action today!!!

It really helped me analyze the "spin" that the Main Stream Media 5th Column was putting out . . .

. . . sometimes I wondered if it was the same event!! . . .;-)

Keep up the GREAT work!!!

"Ok, here we go, we got a real pressure cooker
going here, two down, nobody on, no score,
bottom of the ninth, there's the wind-up and
there it is, a line shot up the middle, look
at him go. This boy can really fly!"
- Paradise By The Dashboard Light by Meatloaf

peace.

How do you sleep at night Petraeus, knowing you work for the worst fascist regime since the Nazis?

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