Senators ask for full hearing on Iraq troop withdrawal

A group of mostly Republican senators is asking Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) to schedule a full hearing on President Obama's decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq.

"As you know, the complete withdrawal of our forces from Iraq is likely to be viewed as a strategic victory by our enemies in the Middle East, especially the Iranian regime," the letter, signed by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and David Vitter (R-La.) reads.

"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," the letter continues.

The senators ask for a full committee hearing as soon as possible "to understand the rationale for" the troop withdrawal.
 
"We request a hearing of the full committee as soon as possible to understand the rationale for this decision that apparently ends negotiations between the United States and the Government of Iraq on a long-term training and stability force of sufficient size to protect both U.S. and Iraqi enduring national security interests," the letter continues. "We note that on the same day the President made his announcement Secretary Panetta stated that the United States could negotiate with Iraq about future training assistance. We therefore also need to understand how any proposed number of U.S. forces involved with the training of Iraqi security personnel after Dec. 31 would be able to effectively accomplish that crucial mission without legal immunity and other protections routinely extended to U.S. military personnel under status of forces agreements worldwide."

The letter comes roughly a week after President Obama announced last Friday that all U.S. combat troops would be fully out of Iraq by the end of the year. A number of Republicans, including some who signed the letter, strongly criticized the plan. McCain called the decision "a serious mistake."

Read the letter below:

10 27 11 Joint Ltr to Chairman Levin Req Iraq Hearing