ABC’s Brian Wheeler reports: The president isn’t the only one squeezing in a last look at Iraq before next week’s Congressional hearings. Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and presidential hopeful Joe Biden, D-DE, let drop this morning on CBS’s The Early Show that he’ll be off to Iraq tonight, before the much-anticipated report on progress in the country from General David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker.
Biden has savagely criticized “the surge” policy for months and continued to so today and while campaigning over the Labor Day weekend. “If [President Bush] is talking about bringing our troops down to the pre-surge level, to 130,000, that’s not withdrawal. Withdrawal would be getting us out of the middle of that civil war,” Biden said this morning.
President Bush alluded to a possible troop draw down on Monday saying, “General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker tell me if the kind of success we are now seeing continues, it will be possible to maintain the same level of security with fewer American forces.”
In response to the President’s trip this week to Iraq, Senator Biden’s campaign office issued a press release Monday: “We’ll be hearing a lot about the ‘surge’ over the next several weeks, but we all must remember its original purpose: to buy time for the central government in Iraq to get its act together and win the trust of all Iraqis. That will not happen.”
This will be Biden’s eighth trip to Iraq since the war began. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee plans to hold a public hearing with General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker on Tuesday September 11.