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Mitchell: Petraeus Held Closed-Door Strategy Meeting With Republican Caucus

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"Mitchell: Petraeus Held Closed-Door Strategy Meeting With Republican Caucus"

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NOTE: Andrea Mitchell retracted her statement. Col. Steven Boylan, a US Army spokesman, reports that Petraeus’ briefing was for all members:

If you go back you will see that Andrea Mitchell corrected her mistake as Gen Petraeus did not address the Republican caucus. This was in March of this year and it was an open session to both sides of the aisle and in fact, there were members of the Democratic party in attendance. This was at the request of the Department of Defense to provide an update to leading members of Congress (all sides).

This morning on the Chris Matthews Show, NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell revealed that Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, met “very recently” with the Senate Republican caucus to discuss their strategy on Iraq legislation.

“Petraeus went to the Republican caucus and told them, I will have real progress to you by August,” Mitchell said. The Republicans claim they told him that after August, they will end their support for the war. “They have told him at a caucus meeting as very, very recently, that if there isn’t progress by August — and real progress means not a day of violence and a day of sanity — that they will pull the plug.”

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/04/mitchpet.320.240.flv]

Stunningly, Mitchell said that “moderate Republican” senators had told her that they didn’t believe the escalation would work but voted for it anyway. “They really are not in favor of the surge. They don’t believe it’s going to work. But they basically said the president has until August, until Labor Day. After that, if it doesn’t work, they’re running.”

UPDATE: Via Atrios, Booman has thoughts on Mitchell’s scoops.

UPDATE II: More at NewsHog.

Transcript:

MITCHELL: I think the Republicans are going to crack. What I’ve been told from inside the moderate center of the Republican caucus is that the vote in favor of the president this week — it was against the president but the Republicans holding for the president — was misleading. That they really are not in favor of the surge. They don’t believe it’s going to work. But they basically said the president has until August, until Labor Day. After that, if it doesn’t work, they’re running.

+++

MITCHELL: They’ll stick until September and then they’ll leave. I believe very firmly that they’re against what he is doing but they feel that General Petraeus has persuaded them that for all intents and purposes, they can’t vote a withdrawal before September.

+++

MITCHELL: Petraeus went to the Republican caucus and told them, I will have real progress to you by August. They told him, if — we’ll stick with you —

KLEIN: I don’t think he did.

Well, I — excuse me…

MATTHEWS: Agree to disagree.

KLEIN: I believe that he did not, and I think that this is a…

MATTHEWS: But the country was led to believe — by the way, the nature of the surge, the word itself is an escalation, suggests a short-term upgrade of the effort.

KLEIN: Counter-insurgency tactics are not a surge. They’re a glacier that takes years to work.

MATTHEWS: Then we were given the wrong labeling here. We have the word surge. Andrea, we got the label from the president himself.

KLEIN: The important thing this isn’t going to work.

MITCHELL: The Republicans were against the surge but they felt it was fait accompli, and that they were willing to give Petraeus until August. He told them there will be real progress by August. They have told him at a caucus meeting as very, very recently, that if there isn’t progress by August — and real progress means not a day of violence and a day of sanity — that they will pull the plug.

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