Top U.S. officials in Iraq answer little during Senate hearings

We’re not calling off the marriage yet, explains Petraeus

Yesterday’s testimonies from General David Petraeus and Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker gave few answers to skeptical Senators of both parties–including the three remaining presidential candidates–in hearings intended to tease out the Bush administration’s plans for a post-surge Iraq.

In the more than eight hours of questioning between the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, Petraeus and Crocker refused to establish conditions for withdrawal to a pre-surge level of troops in Iraq and called for an undefined period of “consolidation and evaluation” at the end of July, when troops are currently scheduled to withdraw.

The hearings were also seen as a testing ground for the three Senators competing to succeed President Bush. While John McCain, a staunch supporter of the surge and the administration’s policies in Iraq, asked favorable questions Democratic contenders Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton pulled no punches. Trying to get Petraeus to divulge conditions of withdrawal, Clinton accused him of purposefully offering “conditions [that] are unclear” in order to perpetuate American presence. Obama asked both officials whether the influence of Iran and presence of al-Qaeda in Iraq were extinguishable; when both conceded they weren’t Obama argued that fact supported his plan for a phased withdrawal of troops from the country.

Iraq questions go unanswered – [Politico]

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