Friday, June 24, 2005

More Senate Armed Services Committee

Other voices from Thursday's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Iraq war:

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) voiced his constituents' concerns over what is going on in Iraq:

"The public views this every day, Mr. Secretary, more and more like Vietnam. ... In the last year, Sir, the public support in my state has turned, and I worry about that, because that's the only way we'll ever leave before we should, is if the public loses faith in us. Public support in my state is turning and people are beginning to question. And I don't think it's a blip on the radar screen. We have a chronic problem on our hands."
Senator Carl Levin, (D-MI) had the following exchange with General John Abizaid, the top U.S. commander in the Persian Gulf, who contradicted Vice President Cheney's remarkable assertion that the insurgency is in its "last throes."
Levin: "General Abizaid, can you give us your assessment of the strength of the insurgency? Is it less strong, more strong, about the same strength as it was six months ago?"

Abizaid: "In terms of comparison from six months ago, in terms of foreign fighters, I believe there are more foreign fighters coming into Iraq than there were six months ago. In terms of the overall strength of the insurgency, I'd say it's about the same as it was."

Levin: "So you wouldn't agree with the statement that it's in its last throes?"

Abizaid: "I don't know that I would make any comment about that other than to say there's a lot of work to be done against the insurgency."

Levin: "Well, the vice president has said it's in its last throes, that's the statement the vice president — it doesn't sound to me from your testimony or any other testimony here this morning that it is in its last throes."

Abizaid: "I'm sure you'll forgive me from criticizing the vice president."

Levin: "I just want an honest assessment from you as to whether you agree with a particular statement of his — it's not personal. ...

Abizaid: "I gave you my opinion of where we are."

OK, General, Abizaid, we heard you loud and clear...

Finally, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) finally had his fill of Rumsfeld's tone and silly responses:

"Mr. Secretary, I've watched you with a considerable amount of amusement. ... I've been here a long time, longer than you have. ... I've seen a lot of secretaries of defense. ... I don't think I've ever heard a secretary of defense who likes to lecture the committee as much as you. ... You may not like our questions but we represent the people. ... We ask the questions that the people ask of us whether you like it or not. ... The problem is we didn't ask enough questions at the beginning of this war that we got into, Mr. Bush's war. I don't mean to be discourteous. I've just heard enough of your smart answers to these people here who are elected. ... So get off your high horse when you come up here."
Rumsfeld didn't respond to those remarks.