Congressional Democrats are trying to undermine U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus‘ credibility before he delivers a report on the Iraq war next week, saying the general is a mouthpiece for President Bush and his findings can’t be trusted.
“The Bush report?” Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin said when asked about the upcoming report from Gen. Petraeus, U.S. commander in Iraq.
“We know what is going to be in it. It’s clear. I think the president’s trip over to Iraq makes it very obvious,” the Illinois Democrat said. “I expect the Bush report to say, ‘The surge is working. Let’s have more of the same.’ ”
The top Democrats — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California — also referred to the general’s briefing as the “Bush report.”
Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Gen. Petraeus’ report was potentially compromised by the White House’s involvement in drafting it.
“If the same people who were so wrong about this war from the start are writing substantial portions of this report, that raises credibility questions,” he said.
Republicans bristled at the pre-emptive strike against the report.
“Are these leaders asking the American people to believe that the testimony of a commanding four-star general in the U.S. Army should be discarded before it’s even delivered?” said Brian Kennedy, spokesman for House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican.
“If so, these statements completely ignore what’s truly at stake in this war and suggest that neither the commander in chief nor our chief commander on the ground have any regard for the lives of the men and women fighting for this country,” he said. “It’s appallng, and I think the American people — rightfully — will continue to stick by the decisions of our commanders and troops on the ground when it comes to what is best for their safety and security.”
Mr. Bush’s surprise visit Monday to Iraq’s Anbar province showcased success in the one-time al Qaeda stronghold where Sunni tribal leaders teamed with U.S. troops to drive out the terrorists and rapidly improve security.
Despite continued bloodshed in Iraq, the president’s visit was one of several recent signs of U.S. military success in Iraq that blunted antiwar momentum leading up to the September progress report.
The congressionally mandated report from the administration, which will be delivered in two parts by Gen. Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan C. Crocker, is expected to show some U.S. military advances, but limited progress from the fledgling Iraqi government toward ending sectarian fighting.
Democrats said they put more faith in a report Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office that showed Iraq failed to meet 11 of 18 political and security benchmarks set by Congress.
They also favored an analysis due today by Gen. James L. Jones, former U.S. commander in Europe, that is expected to say security gains have been “uneven” and Iraqi security forces are ill-prepared to stand alone, according to a CNN report.
“We will see what the Bush report will be at the end of next week,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “The facts are self-evident that the progress is not being made. They might want to find one or two places where there has been progress but the plural of anecdote is not data.”
She said Democrats were determined to uncover “the ground truth in Iraq.”