Everyone but Silky, basically. Two senate hearings today, one before the Foreign Relations Committee at 9:30 and then the Armed Services Committee at 2 p.m. That means Biden, Dodd, Obama (and Kerry, Feingold, and Webb) in the morning and the Glacier herself (plus Kennedy and Webb again) in the afternoon. Anything less than historic proportions of theatrical outrage and transparent grandstanding will be disappointing. Greasy Joe, in particular, should have a big day: he’s the chairman of the FRC so he gets to kick things off with an opening statement, and he’s also just back from Iraq where he concluded that Petraeus’s assessments of progress are “dead flat wrong.” Between that and his idea of partitioning the country, there should be plenty of video highlights later.
I’m assuming the cable networks will cover at least the opening of the morning session but the 9/11 ceremony is happening in Manhattan right now so it may be bumped. If and when I know who’s airing it, I’ll update here. If you’re watching, as usual, sound off. While we wait, here’s George Will’s column this morning pronouncing the surge a failure and attributing its successes to sectarian cleansing and AQ brutality more so than U.S. military maneuvers. It’s basically Schumer redux. Meanwhile, the Times nudges the Dems to hit Petraeus and Crocker harder than yesterday by helpfully drawing up a list of unanswered (and unasked) questions:
[Crocker’s] testimony did not address the continuing wave of internal displacements, only glancingly mentioned Baghdad’s starved infrastructure and said almost nothing about the government’s inability or unwillingness to deliver services to other parts of the country as well.
His description of the growth of provincial power neglected to mention its darker side: Some provinces are becoming rival power centers and could as easily contribute to the country’s disintegration as to its stability…
Mr. Crocker mentioned only glancingly the government’s failure to deliver needed services, focusing primarily on Baghdad’s lack of electricity.
However, electricity is a problem in many parts of Diyala, Diwaniya and other areas. Health services have steadily declined because many doctors, along with a broad swath of the educated middle class, have fled the country. “It’s the government of nothing,” said Adel al-Subeihawi, a tribal leader on Sadr City ’s eastern edge. “No oil. No water. No electricity.”
Another question via Times reporter Michael Gordon, whom Michael Yon routinely praises: How exactly are we going to increase security while drawing down 30,000 surge troops? The presumptive answer is by empowering locals a la the Anbar model. They’re 1/100th as skilled as American troops and 1/1000th as reliable but they offer the one thing the U.S. doesn’t have: manpower. Someone’s bound to ask Petraeus that today. I’ll have the clip when they do.
Update: Looks like C-SPAN 1 is going to carry it. Yesterday the hearings were exiled to C-SPAN 3. And now Fox News has picked it up, just as Biden is telling him, a la George Will, that the surge has failed to achieve its main goal of buying the government time to reconcile.
Update: And now Fox has dropped it and returned to 9/11 coverage. You can watch the C-SPAN feed live over the web here.
Update: McClatchy has its own list of unanswered questions.
A chart displayed by Army Gen. David Petraeus that purported to show the decline in sectarian violence in Baghdad between December and August made no effort to show that the ethnic character of many of the neighborhoods had changed in that same period from majority Sunni Muslim or mixed to majority Shiite Muslim…
While Petraeus stressed that civilian casualties were down over the last five weeks, he drew no connection between that statement and a chart he displayed that showed that the number of attacks rose during at least one of those weeks.
Petraeus also didn’t highlight the fact that his charts showed that “ethno-sectarian” deaths in August, down from July, were still higher than in June, and he didn’t explain why the greatest drop in such deaths, which peaked in December, occurred between January and February, before the surge began.
And while both officials said that the Iraqi security forces were improving, neither talked about how those forces had been infiltrated by militias, though Petraeus acknowledged that during 2006 some Iraqi security forces had participated in the ethnic violence…
He said 445,000 people were on the security forces’ payroll, but didn’t discuss that many officials believe that thousands of those don’t actually exist, but are phantoms whose salaries actually go into ministry officials’ pockets.
Bill Ardolino wrote about phantom Iraqi troops during his first embed tour in Fallujah earlier this year.