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US General Casey Facing Senate Scrutiny For New Pentagon Job February 1, 2007

Posted by notapundit in Congress, Military News, US News.

WASHINGTON (AP)–Gen. George Casey, who led the Iraq war for more than two tumultuous years, is coming under intense scrutiny for a new Pentagon job as two influential senators try to gain Republican support for a compromise resolution against President George W. Bush’s troop buildup.

The resolution is likely to pose a threat to the White House because of its potential appeal to Republicans who have grown tired of the nearly four-year war and want a chance to express their concerns. The White House has been hoping to avoid an overwhelming congressional vote criticizing Bush’s handling of the war.

Casey, picked by Bush to become Army chief of staff, was to testify Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Its chairman, Democratic Senator Carl Levin, and former chairman, Republican Senator John Warner, agreed a day earlier to offer a resolution that would oppose Bush’s decision to send 21,500 more troops into Iraq but protect funding for them.

Casey would replace Gen. Peter Schoomaker, who is retiring. Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, confirmed last week by an 81-0 vote, is taking over command of the Iraq war.

“If I were a betting man, I’d bet he’d be confirmed,” said Republican Senator John Thune, a committee member. “But it’ll be painful for him.”

Warner and Levin’s resolution was expected to gain more support from Republicans than their separate measures because of a provision vowing to protect funds for troops in combat. It also lacks Levin’s language saying the troop increase is against the national interest – a phrase seen as too harsh – and drops an earlier provision by Warner suggesting Senate support for some additional troops.

The widely unpopular war has led to the deaths of more than 3,000 U.S. troops and is blamed for Republican losses in the Nov. 7 elections that handed control of Congress to the Democrats.

Senator John McCain, the top Republican on the committee and a supporter of the troop buildup, backs a rival resolution that would identify benchmarks for the Iraqi government.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he wants to begin debate Monday on the Iraq resolution, bypassing committee review. Levin’s original resolution would no longer be considered unless offered as an amendment.

“I believe we have a better chance now” of passing a resolution against the president’s plan, said Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.

While they differ on Iraq policy, Levin, a Democrat, and McCain, a Republican, said they have serious questions for Casey, who presided over the war as sectarian attacks increased and Iraqi forces struggled to meet expectations despite an intense training effort.

“I don’t think I will put a hold on his nomination, but I do have very grave concerns,” McCain said.

Casey told the bipartisan Iraq Study Group more troops in Iraq were not needed, according to members of the independent panel. Casey later indicated support for the president’s plan, a position expected to prompt tough questions from Levin.


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