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White House holds firm, defying GOP Iraq plan

The White House is rejecting as premature a plan by two senior Republican senators to restrict the mission of U.S. troops in Iraq.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The White House is rejecting as premature a plan by two senior Republican senators to restrict the mission of U.S. troops in Iraq.

President Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, said Sunday the administration has a "very orderly process" set out for reviewing whether its Iraq strategy is working and that should be allowed to play out.

Asked in a broadcast interview whether Bush could live with the plan offered by Sens. John Warner of Virginia and Richard Lugar of Indiana, Hadley said, "No."

Warner and Lugar proposed legislation Friday that would give Bush until mid-October to submit a plan to limit the military mission in Iraq to protecting borders, fighting terrorists, protecting U.S. assets and training Iraqi forces.

Hadley said Bush is sticking to his plan to take stock of progress in Iraq in September and decide on a course of action from there, without conditions.

"They've done a useful service in indicating the kinds of things that we should be thinking about," Hadley said of the senators. "But the time to begin that process is September.

"And the opening shot really ought to be to hear from the commanders on the ground who can make an assessment of where we are in our current strategy."

The Senate's Democratic leadership also is cool to the Warner-Lugar proposal, but for different reasons. Democrats favor tougher steps to restrict Bush's options and get the troops out, but need more Republicans to peel away from Bush before they can prevail.

Asking Bush to boost diplomacy
Lugar and Warner said their proposal asks that Bush starting thinking now about different options and seek to boost diplomacy in the coming months. They cited an over-stretched military and growing terrorist threats around the world.

But that doesn't mean an abandonment of a U.S. presence in Iraq either, they said.

"This nation of ours has got to remain in that area," Warner said, pointing to the United States' "vital security interests" involving Middle East oil and relations with Israel.

"I'm confident when the reports come to the president in September, he will come forward — we ask for it in October — with his revision in strategy to comport with the situation on the ground," he said. "The president will have to make some changes, and I'm confident the president will do so."

Hadley appeared on ABC's "This Week" and "Fox News Sunday," while Warner spoke on ABC.