Obama Questions Petraeus at Senate Hearing
SEN. BARACK OBAMA, D-ILL.: Well, first of all, thanks to Senator Nelson for his graciousness.

And I want to thank both General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker for their dedication and sacrifice. And obviously our troops are bearing the largest burden for this enterprise. I think both of you take those sacrifices very seriously. And we appreciate the sacrifices that you, yourselves are making.

I want to just start off with a couple of quick questions, because in the parade of horribles that I think both of you have outlined should we leave too quickly at the center is Al Qaida in Iraq and Iran. So I want to just focus on those two things for a moment.

With respect to Al Qaida in Iraq, it's already been noted they were not there before we went in, but they certainly were there last year and they continue to have a presence there now.

Should we be successful in Mosul, should you continue, General, with the effective operations that you've been engaged in, assuming that in that narrow military effort we are successful, do we anticipate that there ever comes a time where Al Qaida in Iraq could not reconstitute itself?

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: Well, I think the question, Senator, is whether Iraqi security forces over time, with much less help, could deal with their efforts to reconstitute. I think it's...

OBAMA: That's my point.

PETRAEUS: I think it's a given that Al Qaida-Iraq will try to reconstitute just as any movement of that type does try to reconstitute. And the question is whether...

OBAMA: I don't mean -- don't mean to interrupt you, but I just want to sharpen the question so that -- because I think you're getting right at my point here.

I mean, if one of our criteria for success is ensuring that Al Qaida does not have a base of operations in Iraq, I just want to harden a little bit the metrics by which we're measuring that.

At what point do we say they cannot reconstitute themselves or are we saying that they're not going to be particularly effective and the Iraqis, themselves, will be able to handle the situation?


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