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Iraq

By a 51-46 vote, the Senate passed legislation yesterday calling to begin bringing troops home from Iraq by no later than October of this year. President Bush is certain to veto the measure, likely by next week. Per NBC's Ken Strickland, two Republicans (Hagel and Smith) voted yes with the Democrats; no Democrats voted against it; one independent (Lieberman) voted no; and three senators weren't there (the Democrat Johnson and Republicans McCain and Graham)

"The White House reaction was swift and harsh. 'Eighty days after President Bush submitted his troop funding bill, the Senate has now joined the House in passing defeatist legislation that insists on a date for surrender, micromanages our commanders and generals in combat zones from 6,000 miles away, and adds billions of dollars in unrelated spending to the fighting on the ground,' said Dana Perino, the administration spokeswoman."

So where do we go from here? The Washington Post: "The provision most likely to survive the next round is a set of political and diplomatic benchmarks for the Iraqi government. The language all but certain to be dropped, or at least diluted, would require troop withdrawals to begin as early as July 1 and no later than Oct. 1… A significant number of Republicans support the benchmarks -- possibly enough to override a second veto, should Bush resort to that." 

Iraq Study Group co-chair Lee Hamilton, the Wall Street Journal says, "is urging fellow Democrats to accept "target goals" for troop withdrawals rather than fixed dates… At the same time, Mr. Hamilton … says the president should accept target goals for removing combat troops and legislation that makes U.S. support for the Iraqi government conditional on the achievement of greater political reconciliation. Such an approach could have appeal for moderate Republicans, who are unhappy with the war and the administration's unyielding stance but also what many see as the overly political approach of Democratic leaders."
 
The New York Times says that former CIA Director George Tenet "has lashed out against Vice President Dick Cheney and other Bush administration officials in a new book, saying they pushed the country to war in Iraq without ever conducting a 'serious debate' about whether Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to the United States… Mr. Tenet admits that he made his famous 'slam dunk' remark about the evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. But he argues that the quote was taken out of context and that it had little impact on President Bush's decision to go to war. He also makes clear his bitter view that the administration made him a scapegoat for the Iraq war."