Sen. Warner wants Iraq pullout to begin by Xmas
This is a breaking story. John Warner, who isn't likely to run again and is therefore unencumbered by political payback, is apparently calling for the President to start a pullout of American troops in Iraq by Christmas.
"In my humble judgment, that would get everyone's attention the attention that is not being paid at this time," said Warner.
Warner said the president and other leading Bush administration officials have repeatedly said the American commitment to Iraq was not open-ended.
"The time has come to put some meaningful teeth into those comments -- to back them up with some clear, decisive action," Warner added.
It's unclear how large a pullout this would be, or just a symbolic one. It's unclear whether there's any kind of end date for the complete removal of combat troops here, or not. It's unclear whether this move by Warner would change anything on the ground in Iraq or help get our troops out of harm's way and end the occupation of Iraq.
But politically speaking, this is huge. It changes the narrative from "Dems in disarray, forced to acknowledge progress" to "GOP in disarray, some leaders calling for pullout." The NIE was the impetus for this, I believe. Suddenly, everyone will be asking GOP Senators and Congressmen whether or not they agree with Sen. Warner.
I think this is a big step toward the end of the occupation.
UPDATE: ABC has a bit more.
"I say to the President, with great respect," the 80 year-old Senator said at a press conference on Capitol Hill, "consider that you initiate the withdrawal." [...]
"I've tried to work and be respectful of the office of the Presidency," Warner told reporters, but added that after General Petraeus, the leader of coalition forces in Iraq, submits his reporton progress in Iraq come mid-September, senators should be "free to voice our own opinions."
Warner picked a number out of mid-air at his press conference: 5,000 troops out by Christmas. And he's not for a timeline for withdrawal.
Fortunately, the soccer-ball-chasing media is hyping this story, which means extremely little. They're calling it a "major GOP defection on Iraq."