3:18: C-SPAN reports that this room is rarely used for hearings, but was used for House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in the 1940s.
3:27: And…. we’re back! John Spratt (D-SC) says that the war has cost over $600 billion so far and offers a CBO report that says it could cost almost another $1 trillion over the next five years.
3:28: Spratt asks (paraphrase): “If the purpose of the surge was to produce space so we can achieve political reconciliation, why haven’t we seen progress on this front?” Crocker says we’re seeing “signs” of political reconciliation. “We can see it because I think we are seeing it, … [but] I can’t give you a time line.”
3:33: Howard Berman (D-Another Old White Guy) asks Petraeus whether Petraeus believes this is not the time for a mission change away from counterinsurgency. Petraeus says that’s right. Than Berman lobs a softball about the refugee situation, which Petraeus clobbers.
3:39: It’s hilarious how every congressman likes to talk about the first time they met Petraeus. Who is he, Lindsay Lohan? “I know General Petraeus! I’m so cool!” Or are we watching some weird version of “When David Met Jimmy”?
3:41: Yet another disturbance… “How can you thank him for his service?!?” Skelton: “Take them into custody.”
3:45: The Republicans are proceeding with a transparent line of questioning, repeatedly asking what the consequences will be if we prematurely withdraw. Quite effective.
3:50: Crocker: “There is nothing inherently wrong with the benchmarks,” [How generous!] but “conditions are not yet in place for achieving them.”
3:53: Petraeus: “The ambassador and I are joined at the hip” (in saying you can’t win in Iraq JUST in Iraq…).
3:56: Gary Ackerman (D-NY) asks why no one has mentioned the ‘International War on Terrorism….’ There’s the sizzle and the steak…. It seems to me that we’re trying to be in the middle of a dysfunctional violent family. Can we afford to put a cop in every bad marriage, even when the parties aren’t going to counseling? How long do we stay? I don’t know when that will happen. While we wait for this to happen, how much more blood should we invest? If it takes another four years, I’d like to know from each of you your best realistic view of Iraq will be in those four years…. will this be worth it?”
4:00: Petraeus says AQI is part of the Al Qaeda movement, but Ackerman angrily points out that AQI was founded in 2005, after we got to Iraq.
4:03: John McHugh (R-NY) asks if Iraq is an important part of the Global War on Terror. Petraeus says defeating AQI is. Then he asks if “abandoning Iraq” to focus on Afghanistan would be a net plus or minus for the Global War on Terror. Petraeus doesn’t answer the question.
4:09: Crocker loves talking about how “difficult” and “complicated” the situation is. Hard-hitting! Serious!
4:10: Competing headlines on Petraeus’ testimony in the New York Times and Washington Post. The New York Times: Slow Progress Being Made in Iraq, Petraeus Tells Congress. The Washington Post: Petraeus Claims Major Progress Following ‘Surge’
4:20: The Democratic delegate from American Samoa, Eni Faleomavaega, asks if the military currently has the capacity to fight in Aghanistan, Iraq, and a third potential conflict. Petraeus says he shares the concern, and said it was one of the factors that informed his decision to draw down between now and next summer.
4:24: Petraeus: There has never been a military commander in history who didn’t want more forces, more allies, etc… [Then why does he want us to draw down? Why not send more?]
4:29: Awww…. Mr Jeff Davis (R-KY), the Republicans’ most junior member, is going to get a chance to speak. How nice.
4:41: Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Beards) continues the trend of non-question questions. You’ve got to love how much these people like to talk.
4:50: And now for something completely different: Donald Payne is (we think) the first African-American person to get a say in the hearing, and it’s only been almost 5 hours!
5:00: They’re taking a break, and we’re done for the day. It’s been swell. I’ll leave you with the fact that someone just said “You’ve done a heck of a job” in the background. Seriously. More “Live Team Coverage” tomorrow. Be here.