A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the ranking minority member of the Senate Armed Services Committee as Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.). That position currently is held by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
|Page 3 of 3 <|
Iraqis Condemn American Demands
"Now the American position is much more positive and more flexible than before," said Mohammed Hamoud, an Iraqi deputy foreign minister who is a lead negotiator in the talks.
In Washington, the White House hastily organized a closed-door briefing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday after Sens. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and John W. Warner (R-Va.), the chairman and ranking minority member of the Armed Services Committee, respectively, demanded Monday that the administration "be more transparent with Congress, with greater consultation, about the progress and content of these deliberations."
In a letter Monday to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Levin and Warner wrote that Congress, "in exercising its constitutional responsibilities, has legitimate concerns about the authorities, protections and understandings that might be made" in the agreements.
Although they have questioned the status of forces agreement's contents, lawmakers have not raised the issue of its congressional ratification.
The United States is a party to more than 80 such bilateral agreements in countries where American forces are stationed, but its proposals for the Iraq accord far exceed the terms of any of the others. Such agreements are traditionally signed by the U.S. president under his executive authority.
Although the administration has since said that the security framework is "nonbinding" and would not include any provisions for permanent bases or specific troop numbers, lawmakers charged that the White House was trying to tie the hands of Bush's successor and said the terms of the accord amounts to a defense treaty requiring congressional approval.
In a Senate hearing in April, a senior Defense Department lawyer acknowledged under questioning by Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) that the Pentagon had no definition for the term "permanent base" and that it "doesn't really mean anything."
DeYoung reported from Washington.