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Obama Tries to Quell Iraq Criticism

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Charles Schumer and Sen. Patty Murray have expressed concerns about the number of troops the president plans to leave in Iraq. (Mannie Garcia/Bloomberg News)

By Anne E. Kornblut and Paul Kane
President Obama has invited members of Congress to the White House for a meeting later this afternoon to discuss his plans for drawing down troops in Iraq -- a plan that has already drawn stiff criticism from his Democratic allies.

After Speaker Nancy Pelosi complained that the level of troops -- 50,000 -- who would remain in Iraq is too high, other senior Democrats voiced similar concerns on Thursday. Among Democratic leaders, only Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois is defending the new Obama plan, which will take three months longer than he promised and still leave a significant force structure on the ground.

"I'm happy to listen to the secretary of defense and the president, but when they talk about 50,000, that's a little higher number than I had anticipated," Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said.

"It has to be done responsibly, we all agree, but 50,000 is more than I would have thought, and we await the justification," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.).

"I do think we have to look carefully at the numbers that are there and do it as quickly as we can," said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.) issued a statement saying he was "concerned" about the level of troops that would remain in Iraq.

The members are expected at the White House around 5:30 p.m.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama is comfortable with his plan, which he will formally announce in a trip to Camp LeJeune, N.C., on Friday, delivering a speech shortly before noon. "The president will lay out exactly what that plan is. And I think tomorrow you'll see a president and the national security leadership comfortable with the recommendations that have been made and accepted by the commander in chief," Gibbs said.

Durbin defended the plan, saying that it is not easy to to meet Obama's campaign promise of a near complete withdrawal in such a quick timeline without posing a risk to the soldiers that are left behind to help with embassy security and further training of Iraqi security forces. "I think what the administration is trying to do is strike that balance," Durbin said.

While Durbin is generally the most antiwar member of leadership, he also is Obama's closest ally on Capitol Hill.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 26, 2009; 3:57 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Barack Obama  
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Who is more knowledgable on troops drawn down than the those on the ground? So who is really moving the shots? The commander in cheif has no idea about the risk when politics enter the discussion.
All this talk during the campaign is just big fat lie just to win the election. Go figure. You can be fooled all the time.

Posted by: par12 | February 27, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I see: you think Bush *won* both wars, and the troops are just there to keep the peace now. OK . . . hey, has Rove delivered that Brooklyn bridge he sold you yet? Still in the mail, eh? Well, keep the faith, brother. Any day now. It'll arrive about the same time Bush finally brings you that Bin Ladin he promised you, dead or alive.

Posted by: nodebris | February 26, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Saint, your comment is so stupid it bears repeating just to underline how utterly void of sense you are.

Democrats start wars, Republicans end them?

If you can say that after a Republican administration started two wars that have dragged on for six years and has had to leave both to a Democratic Administration to end, well, why don't you just paint stupid on your forehead and be done with it?

By the way, close your mouth when you aren't talking, and wipe that drool off your chin.

Posted by: nodebris | February 26, 2009 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Thank you poster krankyman | February 26, 2009 8:29 PM for listing the long inventory of Democrat miscreancy and chicanery around the world, but please don't forget what carter/brzezinski did to Iran.

Their nefarious, evil machinations to undermine the Shah of Iran, and their empowerment of khomeini and islamist thugs, brought about the downfall of the 2500 year stable monarchy of Iran. This heinous, unpardonable gambit to revolutionize the history and destiny of Iran has had world changing consequences which not only Iranians but the whole world has been condemned to grapple with to this day.

This is what these leftist miscreants are all about.

Posted by: pouran-doukht | February 26, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Leaving only 50,000 troops will result in more Americans dying as Obama shows his weakness and leaves the troops defenseless against the enemy who think they've won...expect unprecedented violence against the remaining troops. A timetable withdrawl vs. withdrawing based on the circumstances is not good strategy and you certainly don't ANNOUNCE your intentions to the enemy as Obama continues to do for political gain...Amateur Hour doesn't describe his ineptness..more like Criminal Hour for deserting the troops...the good news is at least we'll have a presence for our redeployment in 2012, just in time for the elections! His "promise" to withdraw is empty...get used to it.

Posted by: powerange | February 26, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Democrats START wars? Like Iraq & Afghanistan? Like the covert wars in Nicaragua & El Salvador? the Grenada & Panama incursions?
Republicans FINISH them? Like the retreat from Vietnam by Nixon, Reagan cutting and running in Lebanon? Like president Numbnuts in Iraq & Afghanistan?

Posted by: bklyndan22 | February 26, 2009 6:53 PM
Please take out your World History book for the 20th century.

Look up WW1 WW2 Korea Viet Nam. What they all have in common is a Democratic regime dragging the nation to war. A Democratic regime that tortured POWs to obtain intelligence. Engaged in campaigns of fire bombing civilians (don't forget Bob McNamara now admits he committed war crimes)

Viet Nam was especially egregious because the list of Democratic crimes includes the assassination of democratically elected foreign leaders. It was also a war started by Democrats to cover up the "missile gap lie" and the charge the Dems were spineless against the Reds (which they were).

So when you add up the body count the Democrats are the most blood thirsty; all the more so when you include American citizens killed in the line of duty.

And we shouldn't forget it was the dems who were the first to go nuclear.

Remember the Cold War? Wouldn't have ended without Nixon and Reagen.

So as you can see the 20th century is a sad legacy of socialist dogma, bankrupt social theories, and wars nearly without end.

Now it looks like the Democrats are stampeding back to the death and destruction of their "glorious past".

Just stay away from the truth serum because it will kill you.

Posted by: krankyman | February 26, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

I think it important to remember that President Obama was one of a handful of senators to vote against the initial Iraq War. I strongly believe that peaceful withdrawal is one of his main priorities, as all evidence suggests it is.

Posted by: MerrellM | February 26, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

Bait and switch!. Nice try!

In other words, President Obama does not really want to fail there.

He promised strength through weakness, so far he has only made small attempts to fulfill this promise. Giving 900 million to Gaza(Hamas) through the UN is certainly going to perceived as an apology for the actions of Israel.(Weakness) Hamas will take the credit(and plenty of the money) and keep firing rockets and effectively holding the Gaza civilian population as human shields.

Iraq, it just grabs you in the gut and make you want to puke. This will show whether he can make a real delivery on that promise. Strength or weakness?

The main problem is perception. The strength through weakness advocate perceives their position as strong, but our adversaries see it as weakness.

Now we have a Republican war that Democrats want ended. Democrats have a war they have to make succeed, Afghanistan.
I have no problem making Osama bin Laden a martyr. When he explodes, let's hope he sees it coming. The thousands of victims of the September 11th, 2001 attacks have rounded up at the entrance to heaven for each of the Al-qaeda leaders or button pushers. By the time the 9/11 victims are done with them, they can't handle the virgins any longer (or shorter).

Posted by: thelaw1 | February 26, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

bklyndan22-LOL! :-D

Last time I checked, Bushie WON both in Iraq, and Afghanistan!

Wanna complain about us still having troops there?

Don't you think you should start with Germany, Japan, and Korea First? ;~)

Then, take all the Pride you can, in supporting a POS who if he had had his way, Saddam HUSSEIN, would STILL be in Power, and sending Suicide vests and Blood Money to Palestine!-And worse!

Posted by: SAINT---The | February 26, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

The old good cop/bad cop dog-and-pony-routine?

As this "new" America reminds me so much of what happened to Iran after the Shah-derangement-syndrome brought us the Persian Mahdi of "hope" and "change", or as carter and gang used to refer to khomeini, as the "Persian saint", here's another one:

khatami (congressional dims) = good cops

ahmadinejad (obamba)= bad cop

But....tomorrow's another day and another fairy tale!

Posted by: pouran-doukht | February 26, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Democrats START wars? Like Iraq & Afghanistan? Like the covert wars in Nicaragua & El Salvador? the Grenada & Panama incursions?
Republicans FINISH them? Like the retreat from Vietnam by Nixon, Reagan cutting and running in Lebanon? Like president Numbnuts in Iraq & Afghanistan?

Posted by: bklyndan22 | February 26, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Nobody's talking anymore about all the good things the President has done.

Posted by: HassanAliAl-Hadoodi | February 26, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Folks, for those of you who have severely FAILED to learn your History;

Dimocrats START Wars,

RepubliCans, Win, and Finish them!

Barry O'Bomba-Nation is soooooo looking forward to PLAYING Commander in Chief!

Get ready for the DRAFT FOOLS!

Posted by: SAINT---The | February 26, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

And what happens if 19 months turns into, say, 21 months? Or more? This could get ugly within the Democratic Party.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | February 26, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

This shows that Obama lied to get elected. Remember Rahm Emmanuel's little aphorism, "Perception is Reality"? This has been the Dems operating principle for the last eight years. Given the great ignorance and gullibility of the public, Dems are likely to continue to grow their power while employing the principle of "Perception is Reality". President Obama seems very skilled at creating perceptions.

Posted by: carajillo | February 26, 2009 5:46 PM | Report abuse

I thought Obama didn't like the fact that Iraq had dragged troops away from Afghanistan. He thought Afghanistan should be the priority. But now he's saying that Iraq will have as many troops as Afghanistan AFTER Iraq "withdrawal".

So now Iraq, which he called "the wrong war" and "a dumb war", is a priority?

Posted by: kenonwenu | February 26, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse


A chronicle of ONGOING apparent constitutional rights abuses by government surveillance spies who also are exercising PRIOR RESTRAINT and CENSORSHIP:

How long will President Obama tolerate the abuses that we expected him to bring to an end?


Team Obama: Yes, you can. But WILL you?

And if not now -- when?

Posted by: scrivener50 | February 26, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

mikeinmidland, you make good points. The fanatics on the issue won't be satisfied with anything short of a complete withdrawal by next week. Fortunately, the President has to see the big picture, not just cater to them.

Posted by: RealChoices | February 26, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse


If that's what you elected him for, you weren't listening.

He said "combat troops" and "16 months." Not "everybody" "right now." Now that he is in office, he has more info to make the judgements on. And don't assume that the 50,000 is a permanent force--that will be drawn down eventually too.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | February 26, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

This is a load of crap Obama, we elected you to get everyone out of iraq. EVERYONE!

Posted by: obrier2 | February 26, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

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