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Lieberman blames Iran for Iraq attacks, asks if invasion should be authorized
Nick Juliano
Published: Tuesday September 11, 2007


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Update: Lieberman asks if Iraq war should be expanded 'in Iranian territory'

Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-CT), among the Senate's fiercest hawks, blamed Iran for the deaths of "hundreds of American troops," and claimed the US has evidence that Iran is training insurgents outside Tehran before sending them to Iraq. He asked whether the US should expand its invasion into Iran.

"Is it time to give you authority, in pursuit of your mission in Iraq, to pursue those Iranian Quds Force operations in Iranian territory, in order to protect Americas troops in Iraq," Lieberman (I-CT) asked at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of US troops in Iraq, demurred, but did not shoot down the idea of an expansion into Iran.

"I think that really the Multinational Force Iraq should just focus on Iraq and that any kinds of operations outside the borders of Iraq would rightly be overseen by the Central Command," Petraeus said.

Obama Criticizes Bush 'kicking ass' assessment of Iraq, says hearings shouldn't be on 9/11

Sen. Barack Obama, who has been trying to bolster his national security credentials as he runs for president, demanded clarification from the top US military and diplomatic officials overseeing Iraq as to when troops could begin returning home, and he criticized the decision to have them testify on the sixth anniversary of the nation's worst terror attack.

"I think that we should not have had this discussion on 9/11, or 9/10 or 9/12, because I think it perpetuates this notion that somehow the original decision to go into Iraq was directly related to the attacks on 9/11," the Illinois Democrat said. "It is to suggest that if the American people and the Congress had understood then that after devoting $1 trillion -- which is what this thing optimistically will end up having cost -- thousands of American lives, the creation of an environment in which al Qaeda in Iraq could operate because it didn't exist prior to our invasion ... I think most people would have said, 'That's a bad deal.'"

Obama said the administration has "set the bar so low that modest improvement in what was a completely chaotic situation ... is considered success, and it's not," and the United States has found itself in a situation where "there are no good options."

"There has been no acknowledgment of that on the part of this administration," Obama said. "So that we have the president in Australia suggesting somehow that we are, as was stated before, kicking A-S-S."

(Obama spelled out the offending word rather than repeat the president's overheard profanity to be broadcast live on C-SPAN.)

The first-term senator said he did not believe that decreases in violence in Anbar Province, which Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker cited ad nauseam, "has anything to do with the surge," and he accused the pair of asking "limitless patience" from the Iraqi people.

He asked the two witnesses, who were appearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, what conditions in Iraq would be necessary to begin withdrawing troops, but he acknowledged that his own comments consumed much of his alloted seven minutes for questioning.

Crocker did not offer many specifics beyond his previous answers, but he said war planners would be looking for maintained reductions in violence and local political responses such as those in Anbar, where Sunni leaders who had been insurgents were joining US troops in fighting al Qaeda in Iraq.

The following video is from C-SPAN's broadcast of General Petraeus' testimony on September 11, 2007

The following video is from C-SPAN's broadcast of General Petraeus' testimony on September 11, 2007