MT Delegation Differs on Petraeus’ Report

By Beacon Staff

WASHINGTON (AP) – Montana’s congressional delegation gave mixed reviews Monday to Gen. David Petraeus’ report on Iraq.

Petraeus, the commanding general of the war, told Congress that last winter’s buildup in U.S. troops had met its military objectives “in large measure” and said he envisions the withdrawal of roughly 30,000 U.S. troops by next summer.

Rep. Denny Rehberg, a Republican, said the report provided “a critical on-the-ground assessment of the security and political realities in Iraq.”

The state’s two Democratic senators, however, used the report to call for a change of course.

“We are no closer to bringing our troops home from Iraq than we were in January,” said Democratic Sen. Jon Tester. “While our troops are performing magnificently, the Iraqi government is making no progress at all. Refereeing a civil war in Iraq has distracted us from fighting a war in Afghanistan, where Al Qaeda — who attacked us on September 11th — is rebuilding.”

Tester said the escalation of troops announced earlier this year has cost the country lives and dollars.

“It’s time for the president to come back to Congress and make his case for a new authorization for a very different war,” Tester said.

Democratic Sen. Max Baucus said “the Iraqi government is failing to do what they need to do and that is stand on their own two feet.”

“The time to change course in Iraq is now,” he said.

Baucus has said he regrets his 2002 vote to authorize force in Iraq. Last year, his nephew, Phillip E. Baucus, was killed while serving with the Marines in Iraq.

Rehberg said the troops in Iraq should be managing the war, not Congress. The report exemplifies that, he said.

“We’re making solid progress and it’s essential we continue to provide the necessary resources to improve on our successes,” Rehberg said. “I look forward to hearing General Petraeus’ recommendations on how best to proceed.”

Even so, Rehberg said he will continue to hold Petraeus and the Iraqi government accountable.

“It’s critical we continue our mission of winning the war in Iraq while also working to get our troops out as soon as possible.”

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