Rummy: "I have never painted a rosy picture"
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and top generals got an earful in a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee this morning, just hours before they were scheduled to appear in a closed-door session with all senators.
First responding to comments from the generals that Iraq is closer to civil war than it's ever been, committee chairman John Warner suggested that Congress might have to revisit the authority it granted to the president for military action in Iraq in light of recent developments there and the growing possibility of sectarian civil war: "I think we have to examine very carefully what Congress authorized the president to do in the context of a situation if we’re faced with all-out civil war and whether we have to come back to the Congress to get further indication of support."
Senator McCain tussled with Rumsfeld as well as generals Pace and Abizaid, accusing the commanders of playing a game of "whack-a-mole" by shifting troops hither and yon around Iraq and not making much progress. He also got both generals to admit that the current level of violence was not foreseen a year ago.
Senator Clinton let fly at the Secretary of Defense, laying out a litany of strategic complaints about the war's management before finishing with "We hear a lot of happy talk and rosy scenarios, but because of the administration's strategic blunders and, frankly, the record of incompetence in executing, you are presiding over a failed policy." "My goodness," Rumsfeld replied, adding "I have never painted a rosy picture. I have been very measured in my words, and you’d have a dickens of a time trying to find instances where I have been excessively optimistic." (Not entirely accurate, as it happens).
I haven't seen a full transcript of the hearing and unfortunately I missed Warner and McCain (I did catch Clinton's questions); Hotline On Call reports that McCain's words "were as pointed as we've ever heard."