By Ed O'Keefe

Jan 31, 2007 12:51pm

ABC News’ Kirit Radia Reports: Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., lately of 9/11 Commission and Iraqi Study group fame, was asked by Senator Arlen Specter, R-Penn., just how militias and corruption might be weeded out of the Iraqi police, to which, Hamilton replied bluntly, "You need a bushwhacker."

Appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Hamilton and former Reagan era Attorney General Edwin Meese, also a member of the Iraq Study Group, talked about the challenges of setting up Iraq’s police force: what isn’t working and what needs to be done.

Both the senators and panelists were pessimistic of the situation in the Iraqi Interior Ministry which controls the police.

Hamilton and Meese ran through their recommendations for the Iraq police force, namely the need for a well qualified point person on police training, the need for the Department of Justice to take over the training of Iraqi police from the U.S. military, and the need to increase the number of police trainers from the current number of 6,000 to 10,000, and to make sure they are all civilian trainers.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., asked whether 2007 will be better than 2006, which was expected to be the year of the Iraqi police and it wasn’t.  Hamilton again sounded an ominous tone, saying there is "little evidence" to suggest this year will be any different than the last.

Hamilton later noted that training is the only way the U.S. can hope to withdraw from Iraq. "The sooner you do it, the sooner we get out," the former Democratic Congressman put it.

Senator Richard Durbin’s, D-Ill., analysis was more dire, observing, "Any notion that we’re going to surge to victory dies in the Iraqi police stations," once again casting his repeated doubts about the President’s plan to add 21,500 troops in Iraq.

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