Democrats Already Discrediting Upcoming Petraeus Report

When Gen. David Petraeus comes to Capitol Hill early this week to testify before Congress on the progress of President Bush's troop surge in Iraq, he can expect to be confronted by senators who have already started speaking out.

Democratic leaders are not waiting to hear the general's testimony Monday before the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in his party's weekly radio address today that he expects the Petraeus report to be nothing more than the Bush administration's selective take on the surge.

"Before the report arrives in Congress, it will pass through the White House spin machine, where facts are often ignored or twisted, and intelligence is cherry-picked," said Reid.

On Friday, Reid went so far as to question not only the true source of the report but also the four-star general's honesty.

"He has made a number of statements over the years that have not proven to be factual," Reid said. "I have every belief that this good man will give us what he feels is the right thing to do in his report, but it's not his report anymore. It's Bush's report."

Reid's criticisms have been echoed by his fellow Democratic leaders in Congress.

In a speech Friday at the Center for National Policy, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said, "President Bush is preparing to tell the nation, once again, that his strategy in Iraq is succeeding. We know what the Bush-Petraeus report will say: The surge is working. Be patient. The reality is despite heroic efforts by U.S. troops, the Bush surge is not working."

Durbin, the majority whip, suggested the White House is twisting the facts to reach its desired conclusion.

"By carefully manipulating the statistics, the Bush-Petraeus report will try to persuade us that violence in Iraq is decreasing and thus the surge is working," he said. "Even if the figures were right, the conclusion is wrong."

Published reports in recent days suggested that Petraeus may be prepared to agree to the withdrawal of one brigade -- approximately 3,500 to 4,000 troops -- in early 2008. Democrats wasted little time in saying that such a proposal was simply not enough to appease some of their expectations for withdrawal.

On Friday, Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., called such an idea "an attempt to throw Congress a bone and begin to pull some troops out," adding, "I was hoping he'd be much more bold and far-reaching than that."

Petraeus has denied that such reports are accurate.

Across the Hill in the House of Representatives, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., joined his Senate colleagues in claiming the Petraeus report would be little more than a work of fiction.

"Instead of a new strategy for Iraq, the Bush administration is cherry-picking the data to support their political objectives and preparing a report that will offer another defense of the president's strategy," said Emanuel, the House Democratic Caucus Chair. "We don't need a report that wins the Nobel Prize for creative statistics or the Pulitzer for fiction."

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