WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The top U.S. commander in Iraq said on Sunday he will have a good idea in September how well the troop increase has worked and will be able to provide a forthright report to the policy makers in Washington.
“We can provide a reasonable snapshot of the situation at that time and how things have gone in the surge, both in the security and then in the political and economic arenas,” Gen. David Petraeus said on “Fox News Sunday.”
President George W. Bush has said Petraeus’ September report would be important in deciding the future of U.S. involvement in Iraq, but some in his administration have started to play down its significance to relieve some of the anticipation among members of Congress.
Petraeus made clear he thought it was important to give the president and Congress “some sense of the implications of the various courses of action that might be under discussion at that point in time.”
“We all need to have very clear eyes about what can happen, what the implications of various options are and, again, just to assess those correctly,” he said.
Democrats in Congress have used the September report as a benchmark for re-evaluating Bush’s Iraq policy. Some Republicans also have indicated they might push for a change based on what Petraeus says.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said most senators in his party think September is the critical point.
“The proper time to really make a serious evaluation of the direction we ought to head is in September,” McConnell said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Last week, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada created a bit of a storm by suggesting Petraeus might water down his report to relieve some of the pressure on Bush.
After complaints by Republicans, Reid said he had high regard for Petraeus but hoped that he would be “a little more candid with us” when releasing his report.
Petraeus said his report would be candid and will allow the policy makers to determine the course ahead.
“We’ll provide a snapshot of where we are at that time and it will be a forthright assessment of what we have achieved and what we haven’t achieved,” he said.
The U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, said while Petraeus was giving the security and military report, he would provide the political and economic outlook.
“What we’ll do is we will come back and jointly we will give an honest, forthright assessment,” Crocker told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”