US Back to Iraq?

President Obama meets with congressional leadership over details in Iraq strategy.
12:01 | 06/18/14

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Transcript for US Back to Iraq?
President Obama meeting with him. Congressional leaders today the matter at hand is that way forward in Iraq. We're hard core -- says militants are gaining ground. The president has publicly ruled out another invasions but airstrikes remain on the table hello everyone I'm Michelle Franzen in New York senate majority leader of the -- -- Harry Reid minority leader Mitch McConnell house speaker John Boehner. And minority leader Nancy Pelosi invited guests worth a lot to discuss including the potential for some kind of working alliance with Iran. The Shiite countries -- and natural opponent of the Sunni extremists but the big question will the US -- President Obama declared an end to the Iraq War. -- the country again. We're joined now by ABC news political director Rick Klein Rick let's get right into this we've gone from no troops to 275. Troops. Even though we were told they're not going to fight -- this situation escalating from what you can gather toward bombings -- American special forces on the ground. I think we're looking more like the former but not anytime soon one of the issues that we're having now is because we have so few assets in fact no troops on the ground itself it's hard for us to gather the real time intelligence about the whereabouts. Of of people and the targets we -- attacks -- because we don't have that it would take some time potentially including. Some use of the ground assets that were talking about to even get on -- get a lay of the land realize where we can be most effective before you'd start talking about. Drones or air strikes any kind of a -- campaign he would have to be limited that's the whole prescription that the president himself and his. Addressing the nation last week in talking about his options has talked about and it would have -- not include ground troops he has ruled that out saying there's not -- -- ground war as you mentioned. We're already talking about having more people play on the ground there in a -- what advisory capacity. We we know the history of that word in that terminology. But I eat seems like there is momentum building toward something although it would have to be targeted would have to be limited and it may not start any time in the immediate future. And Rick is a surprising to you -- lawmakers on either side of the I'll bet. This intelligence is still that they're still in the gathering phase of why we did not have intelligence to begin. That's a key critique right now of the Obama White House and the decision to entirely withdraw troops. Back in 2011 now we know that that was part of an agreement that George W. Bush had and it originally struck but he also wanted at the time as the president's personal -- it. -- agreement with the Iraqi Government that would have allowed some residual force have some kind of assets remaining on the ground. Potentially for situations just like this because we have no one there we don't have a good sense of where the targets are we don't have it we don't have full trust for the government right now in fact. Growing concern and voiced publicly concerned about the Maliki government. People in the White House the administration saying that they questioned -- he's ability to continue to lead so. If we're gonna go in -- attack that we wanted to take his word that in his government's -- for the places to attack so. There's no question that would be able told acted more quickly more nimbly we have more presence on the ground. But we know that that this president very much wanted to end the war that was a symbolic as well as substantive -- that withdrawal ground troops tickets back here in 2002 and 2003 it was Vice President Cheney Condoleezza Rice. Colin Powell who -- the people inside the White House now with the presidency year. That's right Wheatley was a much different time in 20022003. That run up to war. Obviously a lot of the presumption that they had the time about the lack of sectarian violence in Iraq about the idea that we be greeted as liberators those things were very much not true fast forwarded decade you're seeing some of those voices reemerged. Dick Cheney in -- with the new -- -- is written with his daughter also. Launching a new organization to try to uphold and restore what they view as the gains of the Bush Administration years. They are saying they're going to be making the case rather aggressively that the president has allowed all the progress in Iraq to back slide. So a lot of the folks who were wrong back in 20022003. Back coming out now in saying the president president Obama's responsible for the current situation. And with that now -- -- the president taking counsel from now of course secretary defense hagel also coming out today what idiot to say. The secretary of defense talking about the general preparations on this you see more of a drumbeat. From around the administration concerned about the Maliki government concerned about any kind of cooperation. And also the of the idea of working with Iranians that you touched on in non military capacity but to try to find a way to its that they can be constructive in this and use some of the alliance's. That have not worked and are advantaged in in the past eight it to our advantage in the future that's a Dicey situation the State Department that that's part of ruled out any direct defense cooperation given. Our stance right now in the nuclear talks with the Randy wouldn't wanna change the progress that's been made right there. But it does feel like kind of a slow drumbeat towards some kind of a military option some kind of a US intervention again -- that it stopped short of ground troops. And let's keep on that subject of Iran how open is the White House -- news anchor do you hear. Of making some kind of arrangement with the -- That seems very much to be on the table and the idea from the White House is that anyone that we can work -- be constructive toward this. Did they they're definitely want to be part of that they're just wary of any kind of military involvement and direct military involvement. Another tidbit today is that the Iraqis themselves made a formal -- that the Maliki government asking for US intervention essentially. To provide the kind of air force support they don't have. Right now inside of Iraq and that raises -- the issues in itself do we want to become the air force for. One side of a sectarian conflict for government that we are now publicly on the record saying. We don't think it's sustainable long term that raises an interest is that an issue is that by themselves. And you know as they are meeting at this hour do you think there's any discussion of going to the UN given at the Security Council members all seem to have the same interests in Iraq. I there's definitely been talk of that but I don't think it's been of -- a big point of contention from congress. No one is doubting the US has the authority under the previous. Under the original Iraq War resolution which is still on the books the going to do whatever he feels is appropriate so. That things are moving slowly enough by themselves the idea of going back to the UN doesn't have a lot of resonance among. Even the president's critics who might be Clinton collected to jump on something like that. I think Democrats on this generally they're they're the -- ready to defer to the president his judgment on -- I think Republicans are going to be pretty unhappy about the progress given decisions that are made long before this week. -- in -- up for another divide now let's talk about what's going on on the ground. In Iraq we know that -- -- militants are extremely well funded do we know where that money is coming from. It's got a number of different sources and and that's and actually be concerned right now of -- of American forces in American officials on this is that make sure that we are tracking it. That he needs not just that did -- different sources of funding would be that they go out and steal money from people. They have sources in this ways to drive that up and I think the Treasury Department likely to get more involved in that is closest -- Mark. And outside the White House tells the wind blowing on Capitol Hill and how do you think having the Democrat in office. Affects what is happening now is hot. Washington I could that -- an excellent client -- And we -- seeing from Capitol Hill as well is a lot of frustration over the Obama white house on this we saw. Lawmakers begin the drumbeat last week insane it's that the president was taking a nap. Speaker -- words last week on on on the whole Iraq issue should've seen this coming. And then to be in a situation we have no ground troops you leave yourself out of position you don't give yourself the best opportunity to respond. That's a big piece of it and then you've got -- complicated politics of rock that you later on top of this President Obama. Ran for this senate originally against which quadrupled dumb wars he ran for president in 2008 pledging to bring this war to a close he's been bragging about the end of this war. As a major foreign policy accomplishment and the idea that he is going to be haunted by the Iraq War again on the back into this career is pretty astounding when you look at the full trajectory and -- it seems like there's a debate not only lawmakers and the public to whether or not the US still has keys to the store so to speak. These -- the -- Iraqi Maine yes. Yes that's right and look -- we have we withdrawn militarily which he gives us a lot less leverage with the government that's in there in the idea that. They would call on -- as an outside force to do -- and I mean think about. Any kind of for sectarian conflict that would that would happen elsewhere in the world country that we weren't recently there that we didn't help the -- -- government. The idea that they would be calling on us to come in and provide support for one side vs the other is rather extraordinary wouldn't be a typical situation. So yet it did to to use another analogy is -- -- is Colin Powell won about you breaking you bought it while you do we have some sense of responsibility. That is they are above and beyond what it would mean for another country however we have less leverage than we did we had massive troop presence there. So we know that the Iraqi Government is asking for that help from what you've heard what would the US hope. And could possibly accomplish with a -- -- bombing campaign -- that -- the decision. We'll starting. With what they hoped -- eight -- don't plan to do with they don't plan to obliterate any kind of opposition. This is -- this is a sectarian conflict. And you want to make sure that what you're doing here is limited to making sure you can pacify the country and not poison the well so much that it's impossible to form -- government going forward if it. A look at the US is seen as taking sides in this than imagine the situation were Sunnis Shiites actually come together again if -- if the US is not seen as an impartial. Arbiter on this. That said that the biggest priority that officials are talking about is making sure that there isn't any terrorists take over essentially of the city of Baghdad and to give. Baghdad -- -- the capital of the airports and all of the all of the infrastructure of Iraq under the under the control of of a fourth -- -- the United States that's the absolute worst scenario and that's what. Any kind of any kind of attack any kind of any kind of launching of of American assets would mean that. And you know we saw Dick and -- cheneys op -- today is anyone outside certain op Ed pages asking for full scale re invasion of Iraq what are you hearing from lawmakers. -- A full scale revision now I don't think anyone -- saying that a lot of people questioning the president's. Initial initial decision to withdraw forces entirely very critical of the inability to get on the status of forces agreement that would -- allowed us to have a residual force there. But you -- seen a number of people say that eating ground -- back there because that's the only way to effectively. Engage in air campaign is to have assets on the grounds that you can pretend it's that you wouldn't be doing that and that's really the way to do it right. So no I don't think -- was talking about a full on -- -- Iraq War but they are talking about and there's an increased interest in. Some kind of in American ground presents something the president as I noted has already ruled out. And Rick so -- all the images the video of lawmakers meeting with the president at this hour after this meeting this afternoon. Who does the president talked to next and does he need support from both sides of the aisle. He can do will be can he -- act on his own timeframe on this because he already has a resolution he doesn't need additional legal authority so. In -- level though he does not need support from both sides of the aisle to engage in additional military action as the commander in chief -- -- certainly use it. He'd like to have it but I don't think that's something he's gonna need I would expect that we haven't had a read on this yet I would expect there's going to be further consultations with would -- congress. As this goes on a laying out of some options but we've been led to expect that there's no decision is coming out of today's meaning it's more -- Kind of a lay of the land and where things stand right now and the president's gonna have to act when he feels like. The intelligence is in the right place -- they know what they're doing with it with a targeted missions. He clearly is not going to be rushed into it at this point it's already been long enough without an -- ABC news political director Rick Klein thanks as always. Thank you. This has been an ABC news coverage of the crisis in Iraq keep up with this story in real time by downloading the ABC news -- And star in the store for exclusive updates on the -- For now I'm Michelle Franzen a New York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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