As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


C-SPAN cut away fro their live coverage of the Petraeus/Crocker hearings and I couldn't seem to find it until Hillary Clinton's questioning had ended, so I missed it. But judging from the liveblogs it appears that I didn't miss many actual QUESTIONS. She kind of gave a stump speech about how the goals of the surge haven't been met and how our operational readiness around the globe has been diminished. Which is true enough, but really misses the opportunity before her. Clinton could have said that at any campaign stop - she had Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker in front of her and the unique ability to ask pointed questions challenging their statements. She chose not to do so to a great extent, and it's a familiar tactic from members of the Senate to talk their time away instead of doing their jobs, but it was particularly a mistake in the case of these Presidential candidates. Sen. McCain had an advantage that others did not, being the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee and able to make a statement before testimony. He spent his question time asking questions for the most part, so much so that he forgot to fearmonger on Iran. (He also screwed up Shi'a and Sunni yet again). But that doesn't mean that Sen. Clinton needed to offset McCain's speech with her own.

When she did ask a question, she certainly asked a good one, about the status of forces agreeement that is being created in secret, largely without Congressional input.

A confidential draft agreement covering the future of US forces in Iraq, passed to the Guardian, shows that provision is being made for an open-ended military presence in the country.

The draft strategic framework agreement between the US and Iraqi governments, dated March 7 and marked "secret" and "sensitive", is intended to replace the existing UN mandate and authorises the US to "conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security" without time limit.

The authorisation is described as "temporary" and the agreement says the US "does not desire permanent bases or a permanent military presence in Iraq". But the absence of a time limit or restrictions on the US and other coalition forces - including the British - in the country means it is likely to be strongly opposed in Iraq and the US.

Iraqi critics point out that the agreement contains no limits on numbers of US forces, the weapons they are able to deploy, their legal status or powers over Iraqi citizens, going far beyond long-term US security agreements with other countries. The agreement is intended to govern the status of the US military and other members of the multinational force.

Ambassador Crocker tried to assure that Congress will be briefed on the SOFA agreement, and that they will have a vague and undefined amount of input. This is wrong. The SOFA agreement is essentially a long-term treaty that will absolutely tie the hands of the next President, and Congress must intervene to ensure that such an agreement is not signed. I wish Clinton did more of this kind of questioning than speechifying.

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