You might have missed the reports on how difficult it was to get information from the US State Dept about the Iraq mission and what they have planned -- how difficult for the Congress and the GAO. If so, the State Dept's Patrick Kennedy gave a non-stop visual of that today.
How many places will the US State Dept will be in Iraq. He answers four.
And that's that. Except prompted to explain where, he notes:
1) Erbil ("where there will be two closely linked sites")
2) at the embassy in Baghdad and "2 other compounds literally right across the street, a police training compound on the other side of the river and a logistics hub at Baghdad Airport"
There are four sights in Baghdad alone. Add in the rest and you have 8 total sites.
And it went that way the whole damn hearing.
But that's not all. They'll also station State Dept employees out of the country in Kuwait and fly them as needed. They will use "long wing" and helicopters. Kennedy meant airplanes and helicopters. That will be a good portion of the convoys. Asked if they would all be air, Kennedy had to allow that, no, some would be by road.
It was like pulling teeth. Pulling teeth from an 50-year-old who knows they will never grow back.
I haven't had time to talk to C.I. about the hearing. My niece wanted to tag along this week (which is great) and after the hearing, we went around the Congressional buildings because this was her first time in DC where she was around the Congress. I met up with the gang (my niece and I) in the afternoon when we were speaking to a group and did three groups in fact but then broke away to show her some of DC night life. I read the snapshot -- C.I. does a great job in it, be sure you read it -- and I think the other key section -- I hope this is what she was talking about because I'd love to spare her having to go into the hearing again in tomorrow's snapshot -- was when the Chair, Jason Chaffetz, was asking a second series of questions. (C.I. cover the first series of questions in the snapshot.)
Chair Jason Chaffetz: Ambassador Vershbos, let's talk about the number of US troops, what the Iraqis are requesting or authorizing. How many is the president authorizing?
Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: Mr. Chairman, no decisions have been made, uh. Discussions are still ongoing, uh. On the nature of the relationship from which would be derived any --
Chair Jason Chaffetz: So the number of 3,000 to 4,000 troops that we here, is that accurate or inaccurate?
Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: As I said, there's a lot of things going on in these discussions which predate the announcement of October 4 when the Iraqi leaders took the position they're taking regarding no immunities so obviously the discussions now have taken on a different dimension so beyond-beyond that I really can't say because nothing's been decided. The shape of the relationship will be determined in part by how this issue of status protection is-is addressed. So it's a work in progress. Even as we speak discussions are taking place between our ambassador [James Jeffrey], uh, the commander General Austin, and Iraqi leaders. So it's really difficult to give you more than that today.
Chair Jason Chaffetz: Now there was a report that General Austin had asked for between fourteen and eighteen thousand troops. Is that true?
Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: Again, I-I can't comment on internal deliberations. A lot of different ideas have been
Chair Jason Chaffetz: Wait a second, wait a second --
Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: --tossed around in the last few
Chair Jason Chaffetz: -- do you know what the actual request was?
Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: Uh -- the military leadership was asked to provide a range of options and they've done that and that was the basis on which we engaged the Iraqis and now the discu --
Chair Jason Chaffetz: Do you know what General Austin requested?
Ambassador Alexander Vershbos: I can't talk about that in an open session, Mr. Chairman. It's classified.
The number that Lloyd Austin, the top US commander in Iraq, wanted is classified? Classified is supposed to be something that would endanger national security.
This is classified only because it would embarrass US Princess Barack Obama.
I hope that was the section C.I. was thinking of. I know she avoided it in the snapshot because she wanted to cover the nuts and bolts (and she did) and thought this topic could sensationalize and suck the air out of the room on the nuts and bolts issues. So I'm thinking that was the one she was going to hold off on until tomorrow unless one of us grabbed it tonight.
Okay, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"