WASHINGTON — Nine Republican senators and Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., have requested formal hearings on last week’s announcement that the U.S. will withdraw all troops from Iraq by the end of this year, saying that they worry the move was too hasty and risks both countries’ long-term security interests.
In a letter this week to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., the 10 lawmakers noted that “while we share the desire for all of our troops to come home as quickly as possible, every senior military commander we have heard from on repeated visits to Iraq has stated that U.S. national security interests and the enduring needs of Iraq’s military require a continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq beyond 2011 to safeguard the gains that we and our Iraqi partners have made.”
Several of the senators – including Arizona Sen. John McCain and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham – were publicly critical of President Barack Obama’s decision when it was announced last week. The letter also states that the withdrawal is “likely to be viewed as a strategic victory by our enemies in the Middle East, especially the Iranian regime.”
But Levin was supportive of the move, stating that “in light of Iraq’s refusal to eliminate the possibility that U.S. troops would face prosecutions in Iraqi courts, President Obama has made the right decision.” No hearings have been scheduled on the issue so far.