I'll guarantee you that it twisted Eric Edelman's panties up in a knot, but Bob Gates made him give Hillary Clinton the breifing she wanted on Pentagon plans for withdrawing from Iraq.
Clinton would not discuss what Edelman told her and other members of the Senate Armed Services Committee behind closed doors, but she said she expected more to come from the Pentagon and the Bush administration.I'm all for Congress allowing the Pentagon to make proper plans by legislating an overturn of Commender Codpiece's obstruction of such planning. Obviously, any such plans will be classified and don't have to be in the public arena, but the lack of such planning for the inevitable does.
"I don't think that by any means answers the questions," said Clinton, D-N.Y., who has been seeking such a briefing for two months.
She and Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., announced proposed legislation seeking specific answers on how the Pentagon is planning to remove troops and equipment from Iraq whenever the U.S. decides to draw down its military presence there.
To pull out of Iraq, Clinton contended that besides soldiers and tanks, plenty of other logistical issues must be resolved, such as U.S. contract workers and refugees.
Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, argued that the Bush administration's lack of planning for the occupation of Iraq shows Congress needs to be involved in planning the withdrawal.
"The Pentagon ought to be planning to save lives, not save face," Kerry said.
Clinton first raised the issue in May, but it became a political fight after Edelman wrote to her that such discussions of withdrawal planning reinforced enemy propaganda.
The senator called that an outrageous attack on her patriotism, and Edelman's boss, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, sent her a conciliatory letter hoping to calm the conflict.
Update I've changed the title of this post because I just saw this over at TPM, courtesy of Greg Sargent, "Hillary to Bush: Whose side are you on, Robert Gates' or Dick Cheney's?"
Clinton has written to Dubya asking him to clarify the administration's position - does it agree with the Secdef that debate is important in a democracy or does it agree with Fourth branch that democratic debate should be stifled as defeatist?
Here's the oomph of Hillary's letter:
I am writing to encourage you and your administration to let the Congress work with you to plan for all conditions in Iraq including the eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces in a manner that safeguards our national security interests and protects our men and women in uniform.More of this please, Mrs Clinton. You are, it seems, the Democratic frontrunner at present and it would be nice if you could keep that position by leading rather than by attacking your fellows for differences in policy that are, to be honest, extremely small.
It is unfortunate, however, that Vice President Cheney has disagreed publicly with Secretary Gates, throwing his support behind the statements of Under Secretary Edelman and casting doubt on the true position of your administration. When asked about the letter in an interview on CNN, the Vice President said, “I agreed with the letter Eric Edelman wrote. I thought it was a good letter”. It was a letter that impugned the patriotism of millions of Americans, including a bipartisan majority in the United States Senate, who believe it is long past time to change course in Iraq.
While it is not an uncommon occurrence for Vice President Cheney to offer support for, or participate in, politically motivated attacks against those who have a difference of opinion, it was surprising to see so outrageous a charge – one which has been disavowed by the Secretary of Defense – given credence by the vice president. While I have urged vigorous debate between the executive and legislative branches, I did not expect a public a disagreement within the executive branch alone, especially on a matter as fundamental as the constitutional role of Congress to check and balance the president.
As a Senator and member of the Senate Armed Services committee, there is no matter of greater importance and urgency than the safety of our troops. That is why I am writing to request a clarification on the position of your administration on the importance of Congress in overseeing our nation’s Iraq policy. Congress must hold your administration to the scrutiny which the Constitution demands and, frankly, your record in Iraq has earned.
Hillary Rodham Clinton
I'm not promising wholehearted support - I have major problems about your coziness with Murdoch and other corporate vested interests as well as with your hawkish ways, and will always strive to be a critic of the powerful simply because democracy demands that the powerful be criticised. But more of this and I will be convinced that you deserve to be the Democratic frontrunner and even deserve a chance at leading the most powerful nation on earth.