WASHINGTON (CNN) - Heated exchanges, outbursts, and even a bit of profanity among lawmakers magnified the pressure Monday amid crucial testimony from the Iraq Commanding General David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker on the future of the war. (Related: Petraeus: Troop withdrawals by year's end)
The first such exchange came before Congress managed to get out of the gates. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Missouri, had a contentious moment with Congressman Dan Burton, R-Indiana, over the presence of protesters who had disrupted proceedings.
In open session, Burton made the following demand of Skelton: “I see a number of people in the audience that I anticipate will be making a disturbance. And if this occurs during the testimony by our honored guests, I hope that you will be very firm and get them out of here.” (Related video: Protesters disrupt hearing)
A frustrated Skelton responded, “You don't have to lecture me. They'll be gone. Don't worry about it.”
Burton told him, “Well, I still see them out there.”
Skelton replied, “Do not worry about him. Don't worry about him. We have done this before.”
Minutes later, during a recess to fix the witnesses’ broken microphones, Burton approached Skelton, and in an exchange picked up on an open mic, Burton told Skelton, “I’m not lecturing you.”
Skelton responded, with Congressman Duncan Hunter, R-California sitting right next to him: “The hell you weren’t. Duncan knows I don't need a [expletive deleted] lecture.”
The protesters, seven of whom were arrested or led from the room during the hearing, clearly rankled the chairman. Under the impression that the mic was off, Skelton then told Hunter, “That really pisses me off, Duncan,” followed by a stronger expletive. “And I don’t need a god-damn lecture from Dan Burton."
Another exchange came at the end of the day when Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Florida, in advance of questioning Petraeus, thanked the chairman, in all seriousness, for “the very calm way in which you’ve conducted this hearing.”
But moments later, the Florida Republican found herself in the middle of the day’s latest verbal dust-up. It all started when Ros-Lehtinen told the committee, “And, again, I offer my colleagues the opportunity to use this hearing to distance themselves from the despicable ad that was published today calling into question the patriotism of General Petraeus.”
The comment was part of an effort by Republicans to get Democrats to denounce a print ad by the liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org ad. The ad, running in Monday's edition of the New York Times, shows a picture of Petraeus. Bold letters spell out "General Petraeus or General Betray us?"
That’s when Congressman Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, interrupted Ros-Lehtinen, saying, “Point of order, Mr. Chairman. Nobody has to distance themselves from something they weren't associated with.”
Ros-Lehtinen made a face, shrugged her shoulders, and said under her breath, “take it easy”.
– CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk