Surprising news. I am shocked!! -- White House Isn't Backing Iraq Study Group Follow-Up.
Despite an overwhelming House vote last month to revive the Iraq Study Group [the vote was 355 to 69], the White House has blocked reconvening the bipartisan panel to provide a second independent assessment of the military and political situation in Iraq, said several sources involved in the panel's December 2006 report.
Co-Chairman Lee H. Hamilton, several panel members and the U.S. Institute of Peace, which ran the study group, were willing to participate, according to Hamilton and the congressionally funded think tank. But the White House did not give the green light for co-chairman and former secretary of state James A. Baker III to participate, and Baker is unwilling to lead a second review without President Bush's approval, according to members of the original panel and sources close to Baker.
Congressional sponsors called the White House's reluctance a missed opportunity. "The ISG provides an opportunity to bring the country together. . . . If you had a serious illness, you would want a second opinion. We are at war. You want to have the best minds looking at a problem," said Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), who proposed the ISG and co-sponsored the bill to reconvene it. "Having another independent, bipartisan assessment will take out the venom in the debate."
Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), another co-sponsor, warned that the White House's move would cost further support among Republicans.
"It's really shortsighted," he said. "It's going to further isolate the president. . . ."