Missouri’s junior Senator wants to get a close-up look at a Government Accountability Office report saying at least 13 of the 18 benchmarks for progress in Iraq have not been met.

Senator Claire McCaskill is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which plans to hold hearings on the GAO’s appraisal of the progress resulting from the troops surge in Iraq. A version of the report leaked this week is critical of Iraq.

McCaskill says it’s important to remember that Iraq agreed to the benchmarks set forth by the United States for continued American involvement at present levels. She says she has great confidence in the GAO and its director, David Walker. McCaskill says she wants to ask questions during the hearing to determine “where we are” with Iraq’s ability to reconcile its warring factions.

McCaskill says it’s important the President begin to draw down combat forces as a way to force Iraqi leaders to decide how they’re going to live with one another. She says a close look at the full report will tell her more about the extents of successes and failures in Iraq.

McCaskill says total withdrawal is not the answer and she does not believe more than “a handful” of Senators favor full withdrawal. But she says American efforts must re-focus their efforts on fighting terrorism there and elsewhere in the region.

The committee will hold a hearing tomorrow on the report.



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