EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Clinton: Iraq Situation 'Heartbreaking'

ByABC News
January 13, 2007, 7:38 AM

BAGHDAD, Jan. 13, 2007 — -- In an exclusive interview with ABC News in Baghdad, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., called the situation in Iraq "heartbreaking" and said she doubts Congress and the American people believe the mission here can succeed.

"I don't know that the American people or the Congress at this point believe this mission can work," she said. "And in the absence of a commitment that is backed up by actions from the Iraqi government, why should we believe it?"

Clinton spoke with ABC News after meeting with Gen. George Casey and Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the top American commanders here. She is one a one-day visit to Iraq as part of congressional delegation that includes Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and Rep. John McHugh, R-N.Y.

Clinton had tough words for the Iraqi government, which she said has failed repeatedly to deliver on its promises.

"I'm skeptical that the Iraqi government will do what they have promised to do, and that I think is the concern of all of us who have heard this before," she said. "All the promises, and intentions in the world don't substitute for action and we haven't seen a lot of action."

Clinton traveled wearing body armor and surrounded by a phalanx of soldiers and security guards. The level of security, she noted, was much higher than her first visit to Iraq back in 2004.

"This is heartbreaking," she said. "This is my third trip here. I've seen the violence and security problems increase, not decrease. The first time I was here, we're not, you know, asked to wear body armor and put on helmets. We were not shepherded very narrowly from place to place. I went to Kirkuk the first time when actually Gen. Odierno was there, in charge of the 4th ID. We went into the city. We had a meeting in the town hall with people."

Instead of sending more U.S. troops to Iraq, as President Bush plan, Clinton said it is time to start re-deploying U.S. troops out of Iraq.

"That would really demonstrate to the Iraqis that we don't have an open-ended commitment," she said. "We are not going to be here providing protection for their leaders, which we do. We are not going to be here standing by and trying to be called in from time to time as they see fit. That is not in the cards."