The Tennessean.com reports:
Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker gave an upbeat report on progress in Iraq this morning after returning from a trip there late last night.
The Republican lawmakers met with American commander Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker. They said Petraeus and Crocker likely will recommend reductions in U.S. troop levels when they update Congress in September on the war in Iraq. Troop levels were increased earlier this year to control sectarian violence.
Alexander and Corker visited Iraq, Kuwait and a hospital in Germany that treats injured soldiers. They met with two Iraqi vice presidents and visited an outpost outside Iraq to meet with four tribal leaders helping U.S. troops.
Alexander said a strategy devised by Petraeus to work with local leaders and win them over to the U.S. cause has shown "clear success, province by province."
"They are fed up with random murders of their children" by al-Qaida terrorists, he said.
During their 90-minute meeting with Petraeus and Crocker, the senators were told progress has been made in seven of the country's 18 provinces.
"No question we will be able to reduce troop levels," Corker said.
The two senators declined to reveal details of their discussions with Petraeus or Crocker.
Both were critical of the central government led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, but they did not call for his ouster as Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., did this week.
Let's see if Big Oil got their money's worth:
LAMAR ALEXANDER: CAREER PROFILE (SINCE 2002)
The top industries supporting Lamar Alexander are:
1 Retired $1,499,851
2 Securities & Investment $1,243,108
3 Lawyers/Law Firms $1,241,424
4 Real Estate $887,660
5 Health Professionals $791,560
6 Misc Finance $507,810
7 Commercial Banks $484,093
8 Business Services $474,526
9 Misc Business $463,925
10 Insurance $406,800
11 General Contractors $406,150
12 Hospitals/Nursing Homes $399,425
13 Education $359,379
14 Misc Manufacturing & Distributing $336,008
15 Automotive $322,450
16 Food & Beverage $287,850
17 Retail Sales $269,875
18 Oil & Gas $259,925
19 Accountants $228,550
20 Civil Servants/Public Officials $217,147
BOB CORKER (R-TN)
The top industries supporting Bob Corker are:
1 Retired $896,063
2 Real Estate $800,652
3 Lawyers/Law Firms $578,870
4 Health Professionals $477,617
5 Securities & Investment $437,703
6 Leadership PACs $436,841
7 Misc Finance $425,983
8 General Contractors $404,900
9 Misc Business $378,948
10 Commercial Banks $241,325
11 Insurance $236,625
12 Automotive $222,800
13 Oil & Gas $220,350
14 Republican/Conservative $171,721
15 Misc Health $163,410
16 Business Services $154,650
17 Retail Sales $117,989
18 Hospitals/Nursing Homes $113,750
19 TV/Movies/Music $111,711
20 Food & Beverage $107,138
Meanwhile, Representative David "So glad we're not talking about past with prostitutes" Vitter returns from his half-a-day on the ground in Iraq with General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker:
Fresh from his third tour of Iraq, U.S. Sen. David Vitter said Wednesday that the U.S. military is meeting its war goals set earlier this summer.
The Louisiana Republican, however, expressed concern that the Iraqi government is not living up to its end of the partnership.
Vitter was part of a contingent of four senators who spent three days touring Baghdad and another region of the country where they met with troops. Vitter also met with troops from Louisiana, he said.
Next month, Congress is scheduled to debate once again the role of the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. President Bush plans to ask for more funding for the war through an emergency supplemental request.
Earlier in the year, Democrats in Congress threatened to cut off the funding to the war but relented after Bush and military leaders asked for three more months and proposed a new military strategy and “surge” or sudden increase in troops.
Vitter said the surge is working.
The United States has made significant strikes against Al Qaida terrorist forces and reduced sectarian violence in the nation, he said.
Vitter said he met with the chief military commander in Iraq, U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus, for about 90 minutes.
“My bottom line conclusion is that the surge is working very, very well,” said Vitter, who returned to the U.S. late Tuesday night.
Vitter also took a helicopter ride outside the protected “green zone” to a region about 40 minutes outside of Baghdad, he said.
There, he met with two Iraqi vice presidents from the opposing Shia and Sunni factions.
Vitter worries that the Iraqi government is not stable enough to foster democracy in the nation, he said.
“The central government has not accomplished that yet and that is the frustration,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Earlier in the week, Levin called for the ouster of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Bush said it will be up to the Iraqi people to make any change in their country’s leadership.
Vitter said he understands Levin’s frustration, but he does not believe that al-Maliki should be replaced.
“Clearly, he has not led the way effectively for political progress and reconciliation,” Vitter said. “That has to change.”
Vitter also met with Ryan Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq. The excursion also included a stop to see wounded soldiers at Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
Vitter said the trip will help him play a more hands-on role in the upcoming Senate debate.
“It was very, very helpful to see things on the ground,” Vitter said.
Let's see if Big Oil has any investment in Vitter:
DAVID VITTER: CAREER PROFILE (SINCE 1999)
The top industries supporting David Vitter are:
1 Retired $685,214
2 Health Professionals $636,819
3 Lawyers/Law Firms $625,552
4 Oil & Gas $459,085
5 Real Estate $433,377
6 Leadership PACs $406,263
7 Securities & Investment $404,176
8 Sea Transport $289,839
9 General Contractors $231,366
10 Insurance $196,376
11 Misc Finance $184,110
12 Commercial Banks $183,974
13 Misc Business $175,547
14 Construction Services $165,500
15 Lobbyists $161,554
16 Crop Production & Basic Processing $111,250
17 Electric Utilities $110,666
18 Automotive $106,843
19 Business Services $106,154
20 Misc Manufacturing & Distributing $104,248
Also along on this taxpayer-paid trip was Senator George Voinovich, who complains a lot about Bush's policies, but in the end heels. The Enquirer reports:
Three liberal anti-war groups unveiled television ads and a billboard Wednesday calling on Sen. George Voinovich to vote to end the Iraq war.
The attacks on Voinovich came the day after the Ohio senator returned from a four-day trip to Iraq, Germany and Kuwait with fellow Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, both of Tennessee, and David Vitter of Louisiana. It was Voinovich's first trip to Iraq.
Voinovich's time in Iraq was limited to just Tuesday. The senators met with Army Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, visited with soldiers and traveled to a combat outpost to meet with Sunni and Shiite leaders.
Voinovich has declined to talk to the media about his trip until next week, spokesman Chris Paulitz told The Enquirer on Wednesday. "He's going to spend some time and develop some thoughts on this," Paulitz said.
Voinovich got national attention in June when he said in a letter to President Bush that the U.S. should disengage from Iraq, including the gradual withdrawal of troops. He has been criticized, however, for voting against Democrat-sponsored measures in the Senate to force an immediate troop withdrawal.
"Talk is cheap," said Jeremy Funk, spokesman for Americans United For Change, which is paying for the ads. "We haven't seen any votes to back up his comments."
The TV ads will run in Cincinnati from Wednesday until the end of next week. Funk declined to say how much the Cincinnati ad cost but said it was part of a larger national campaign targeting senators the group thinks it has the best chance of winning to their side.
Additionally, the "Voinovich Double Talk Express" bus, sponsored by Americans Against Escalation in Iraq and Progress Ohio, is on a three-day statewide tour of Ohio, which included a stop at Cincinnati City Hall on Wednesday. The bus is carrying a giant billboard accusing Voinovich of being "on vacation" while U.S. soldiers serve multiple rotations in Iraq.
Brian Rothenberg, executive director of Progress Ohio, said the group didn't know Voinovich would be returning from Iraq the same time as their bus tour.
"Making one quick trip in and out in a day does not do as much as he could do with his vote in the Senate," Rothenberg said.
Voinovich's trip came less than a month before Patraeus is expected to brief Congress on the progress in Iraq.
Does Big Oil have a stake in Voinovich?:
GEORGE V. VOINOVICH: CAREER PROFILE (SINCE 1998)
The top industries supporting George V. Voinovich are:
1 Retired $991,502
2 Lawyers/Law Firms $924,628
3 Misc Manufacturing & Distributing $806,390
4 Real Estate $655,740
5 Health Professionals $562,816
6 Insurance $456,896
7 Electric Utilities $437,016
8 Chemical & Related Manufacturing $432,275
9 Commercial Banks $431,296
10 Automotive $351,882
11 Securities & Investment $344,414
12 General Contractors $322,019
13 Oil & Gas $318,332
14 Business Services $261,462
15 Leadership PACs $257,079
16 Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $254,274
17 Misc Finance $231,939
18 Mining $208,299
19 Food Processing & Sales $208,200
20 Building Materials & Equipment $204,625
Looks like it does!