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Democrats Leery of Obama Iraq Plan

By Ben Pershing

Key congressional Democrats are expressing some discomfort with President Obama's plan to draw down troops in Iraq, worrying that the administration's strategy will leave too many American military personnel in the country after the "withdrawal" date of August 2010.

Obama is expected to provide some details of his plan during a speech Friday at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The top House and Senate leaders from both parties and relevant committee chairs are scheduled to visit the White House today for a briefing on the plan, according to sources.

Initial reports suggest that the administration plans to leave as many as 50,000 support troops behind to provide training and perform some security functions after the bulk of the force departs Iraq. That's too many for the taste of congressional Democratic leaders.

In an interview aired on MSNBC Wednesday night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was asked about the prospect of leaving 50,000 troops in Iraq, and she responded: "I would think a third of that, maybe 20,000, a little more than a third, 15,000 or 20,000. ... We have to see what the purpose is, how it fits the mission of our national security, and why that number is important."

Top Senate Democrats expressed similar wariness today. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said at a briefing with reporters today that the 50,000 troop number was "a little higher than I anticipated." And Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said of withdrawal, "It has to be done responsibly, we all agree, but 50,000 is more than I would have thought needed to stay, and we await the justification why that many are needed."

It may well turn out that those initial reported estimates of 50,000 troops staying in Iraq after August 2010 were way too high in the first place, or at least at the uppermost end of a range of possibilities. And congressional Democrats, happy to have a president who campaigned on ending the war, are likely to give Obama wide latitude as he makes specific personnel decisions. But Hill leaders do want to hear the president explain himself, so they'll be listening closely to his speech tomorrow and at the White House today.

By Ben Pershing  |  February 26, 2009; 2:12 PM ET
Categories:  Dem. Leaders , Iraq  
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This going to be difficult for BO because he seems to have a lot of respect for Gates/Defense. However, going forward, he must demand Iraq's to take responsibility for their own defense - irrespective of insurgents. And finally reduce non-combat forces to a ceiling of 20.000 and not more.

The Pentagon budget must also dictate his decision to withdraw responsibly and forcefully.

Posted by: hariknaidu | February 26, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, I didn't know hariknaidu was empowered or qualified to set a ceiling for number of troops our president and military can leave as a residual force in Iraq. Of course, be it 50k or 20k troops left as a residual force, the only reason we can have that many there in peace is due to the success of the surge our now erstwhile commander in chief opposed so vehemently.

Posted by: fredgrad2000 | February 26, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

"I would think a third of that, maybe 20,000, a little more than a third, 15,000 or 20,000. .." nancy pelosi said.

yes, let's ask nancy. what the f* does nancy know????? she's a friggin narcissistic BONEHEAD.

i saw that bimbo last night in the interview, and i don't think i've ever seen anyone get more nervous and defensive when rachel maddow asked her about the briefings the congressional intelligence committee (which she's on) was given back in 2002 regarding the TORTURE..


but ole nancy "fancy panties" pelosi said the committee was NEVER told anything..

then gee.. WHY would the bush admin get them all together? to swap recipes? someone how cheney doesn't seem to be the better crocker type..

throw nancy "fancy panties" in the slammer!

martha stewart survived jail, because she built an uzi machine gun for self defense out of egg shells... let's see if nancy "fancy panties" pelosi is as creative.

Posted by: DriveByPoster | February 26, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

This is way too slow of a draw down.

We haven't even cancelled the contracts for the overpaid mercenaries (oops, contractors) in Iraq, which is our biggest budget drain.

Let me, a former soldier, make one thing perfectly clear: al-Qaeda was NOT in Iraq. A splinter cell joined them, but they WERE NOT THERE. At best one percent of all those we fought were al-Qaeda.

THEY ARE IN AFGHANISTAN/PAKISTAN and are supplied with money and volunteers almost entirely from Saudi Arabia or Yemen.


Get out now.



Posted by: WillSeattle | February 26, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

I think I see a pattern developing here. First she writes the President's stimulus package. Now she (Speaker Pelosi)is giving him direction on troop levels in Iraq. What will she do next? Take over Air Force 1 for her trips home?

Posted by: inhk1 | February 26, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

I voted for President Obama because I respect his ability to make good decisions based on the facts. I suggest we wait for the facts in this matter before making our own decisions regarding residual troop levels in Iraq.

Posted by: athome | February 26, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

inhk1 wrote, [what's pelosie going to do next..]" Take over Air Force 1 for her trips home?


funny you should say that. i heard one of the newscasters in just the last few days saying that nancy "fancy panties" pelosi is such a WONDERFUL AND CONSERVATIVE pwerson, that she flies commercial where ever she goes.

well.. i seem to remember that right after she was selected for speaker of the house, she ASKED FOR HER OWN 727 MILITARY JET TO BE ASSIGNED TO HER.. and of course was told , "not NO but HELL NO" and was further told that she would be flown military WHEN AVAILABLE...

nancy "fancy panties" pelosi is sooooo much in love with herself.

did you see her ham it up for the cameras at obama's "state of the union" the other night???

she was like a friggin jack in the box... or shall i say, a nancy in the box.

just crank that handle a few turns, and;


Posted by: DriveByPoster | February 26, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I thought we Democrats were given control of the Legislature back in 2006 so that they could end these wars.

Then they said they couldn't do that because the President would overule them (wrong, they could have cut the funding).

Now what's the excuse?

I thought "War was not the answer"?

Change indeed.

Posted by: MDLaxer | February 26, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

50,000 is as many as there will be in Afghanistan when the additional 17,000 arrive. Yet Obama's campaign rhetoric stressed that Iraq had drawn troops and attention away from Afghanistan, the key theater where AQ and bin Laden actually were.

So what he's saying is that he, too, will fail to prioritize Afghanistan, instead diverting troops to what he's already (rightly) called the "wrong war".

Count me as an Obama supporter who's deeply unhappy about this.

Posted by: bourassa1 | February 26, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

the unites states built 13 BRAND NEW MILITARY BASES IN IRAQ...

does anyone here actually think for a MINUTE that the u.s. would EVER pull out of the 2nd HIGHEST OIL RICH COUNTRY IN THE WORLD????


give me a break!

those 13 military bases will have the u.s. military stationed at them FOREVER AND EVER.

til the end of time, my friends...

don't let anytime tall you otherwise.. not obama.. not gates.. not god.. or not even that military mastermind, nancy "fancy panties" pelosi herself..

operation "STEAL IRAQI OIL" is in full swing.

Posted by: DriveByPoster | February 26, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

The Borgen Project has some good info on the cost of addressing global poverty.

$30 billion: Annual shortfall to end world hunger.
$550 billion: U.S. Defense budget

Posted by: atsegga | February 26, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

I agree with athome.

(Almost) everyone here seems to take the first report of a potential action and immediately slam or praise the President. Based, essentially, on a rumor.

Barack Obama has been a man of his word so far, at least as good or better than any politician I can remember. So let's give him a chance to spell out the plan before we trash it.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | February 26, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse


"Erstwhile" means "former." So are you saying that our now former CIC (Bush) was AGAINST the surge????

Stick to the words you know, or get a dictionary.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | February 26, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like the Press making an issue of nothing. Bush dropped an anvil through the bottom of the boat and then wanted credit for slowing the sinking of the boat with a patch. Obama said he would get us out responsibly and not lie to us about the costs (in lives and dollars) of getting out. Sounds like what he's doing.

If ya gotta sell newspapers, track down the members of the Bush Crime Family. 75% of Americans want them prosecuted. Isn't that what a "liberal press" would do?

Posted by: thebobbob | February 26, 2009 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I supported Obama all the way, from the beginning of his campaign, throughout the fight with Hillary. I fought for him and helped finance his campaign. I voted for him.

The other choice was not an option.

But today I see nor he, Obama nor anyone can ever change the course of this country which is decided not by presidents but by those behind the scenes that pull the strings.

Obama was a last hope. He is now a lost cause....

The world should no longer believe us. We have no moral authority in it any more.

"Old Europe" as it was disparagingly referred to for propaganda purposes at the onset of the Iraq war is way ahead of us. Universal health care; REAL diversity of political parties; a fairer distribution of wealth; decent welfare and an extremely low rate of crime.

We are dragging behind in a collective delusion and will end up looking like fools one day. Dangerous fools...

PS to: DriveByPoster.

you are wrong, the military will surely leave not forever and ever but when the oil runs out (in the entire region...)

Posted by: ronn2 | February 28, 2009 1:46 AM | Report abuse

PSPS to DriveByPoster:

apologies I mean to write:

"you are wrong, the military will surely stay not forever and ever but leave when the oil runs out (in the entire region...)"

Posted by: ronn2 | February 28, 2009 2:25 AM | Report abuse

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