Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner called on President Bush Thursday to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq in time for Christmas. Warner explains his comments and outlook on Iraq.
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Senator Warner's surprise announcement that President Bush should call next month for the start of a pullout of U.S. troops came on the heels of a bleak intelligence report today about the political climate in Iraq. The so-called National Intelligence Estimate forecast that the Iraqi government will become more precarious over the next six to twelve months.
The estimate concludes that, despite some headway made by coalition forces, "Levels of violence will remain high, and the Iraqi government will continue to struggle."
Senator John Warner, just back from a trip to Iraq himself, cited the report at his news conference today. And the senator, former chairman of the Armed Services Committee, joins us now.
Senator, thank you for being with us.
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R), Virginia: Thank you.
What is it exactly that you want the president to do next month?
SEN. JOHN WARNER:
In the first place, the president on January 10th invited members of the Congress and others to make suggestions from time to time. And this is a suggestion that I've had on my mind for some several months.
And it's just not based on my trip, but it's a collective study. And I spent a tremendous amount of my time — because I think this is the most important issue, as a senior member of the Armed Services Committee that I have.
What I suggested is as follows. And it's interesting, Judy, that the thoughts that I had, the report that Senator Levin and I filed — the written report — reflected very closely the findings of the National Intelligence Estimate. We did not have it at a time. We prepared our report in Iraq, or actually it was done in Jordan.
So it's an idea that we've got to do something in recognition that we're constantly losing our brave soldiers, airmen, and Marines, and their families are suffering. And we've got to show strong leadership.
And I suggested that, given that it was our judgment before we arrived in Iraq that this government is simply not living up to its agreement made with the president and the people of this country on January 10th, that we would do the military security part of it, they would do the political part, namely, to bring about reconciliation to hasten this — stopping this senseless fighting.
And you're asking, you're saying the president should announce next month what?
SEN. JOHN WARNER:
I've recommended — and it's his option, in consultation with his military commanders.