President Obama meets with his national security team on Wednesday. (PHOTO CREDIT: Pete Souza/White House)
President Barack Obama met behind closed doors with his national security team Wednesday to review the ongoing U.S. engagement in Iraq, according to the White House.
Obama met with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, National Security Advisor Gen. Jim Jones and CIA Director Leon Panetta, among others.
Plans to reduce the total number of American troops in Iraq to 50,000 by the end of this month are on schedule, Obama announced last week. At that point, the U.S. military mission will shift to training and supporting Iraqi security forces, as well as support for U.S. diplomats.
A full withdrawal of U.S. troops is scheduled to occur by the end of next year.
Nothing was brought up during Wednesday's meeting that will delay the planned transition, according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. The administration remains "on target" to end the combat mission, he said.
The war in Iraq "is nearing an end," Obama said on August 2. "As a candidate for president, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. And that is exactly what we are doing."
But while the U.S. military commitment in Iraq is now nearing a conclusion, the president warned, there is still danger there for U.S. troops on the ground.
"The hard truth is, we have not seen the end of American sacrifice in Iraq," Obama said. "But make no mistake, our commitment in Iraq is changing - from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats."
Obama provided a largely optimistic assessment of the U.S. effort, saying violence there is currently "near the lowest it's been in years."
But Iraqi officials released data a couple of weeks ago indicating that July was the deadliest month for civilians since May 2008. The Iraqi government reported that 396 civilians, 50 Iraqi soldiers and 89 police officers were killed. Iraqi officials also said 100 so-called "terrorists" were killed, and 955 others were detained.
The U.S. military has disputed the Iraqi figures, saying the actual numbers are less than half what Iraq's government reported.
The drawdown of U.S. forces from Iraq is taking place against the backdrop of Obama's decision to escalate the war in Afghanistan - a decision which has been criticized by some of the more liberal members of his own party.
What the heck?just bring the soldiers home, now.geez what's this president thinking or is this for a good show?
Good. It's is about time. Next George Bush and Dick Cheney should be investigated for manipulating the facts and Congress. Sec. of State Colin Powell should tell us the truth. He in particular was the one man many people trusted when he appeared before the UN to "sell" the invasion.
I think the invasion of Iraq was the worst presidential decision of my lifetime. But I appreciate that we are trying to get out responsibly instead of just walking away. Hopefully a stable Iraq will result. Thank you Obama for thinking carefully (aka "dithering") rather than making impulsive, emotion-based decisions. And thank you for not starting any more unnecessary wars.
My best wishes to the Iraqis in the future.
Thank you Mr. President for continuing to fix the multiple messes left by the previous administration. Seriously, don't ya think that guy could have finished at least one thing he started? Economy – nope, left that in a shambles. War – started two, ended zero. Immigration – couldn't even get an immigration policy through when his party controlled both houses. Budget – started with a surplus, ended with a deficit. Education – NCLB, that was a lovely unfunded mandate...but it didn't work. Wait, to give him credit, he did give lots of money to fight AIDS in Africa, not here in the US, but hey, that's the best I could come up with.
Hmmm.. They never say how many "contractors" will remain in Iraq, do they? Have a nice day!
Will this be the issue that Hillary uses as an excuse to jump ship? Mark my words, Hillary is looking for an excuse to bail out and challenge Obama for the 2012 nomination because she knows what a complete failure Obama is and he's getting worse, if you can imagine that.
Get us out and leave no American there. Bush already murders tens of thousands of soldiers there for nothing and hundreds of thousand of innocent Iraqis for nothing.
We need to get out of this fraudulent war than bankrupted our nation.
Maybe President Obama should send Bush over there to be a diplomatic liason. Bush just might reap what he sowed. Bush in an Iraqi jail would be priceless!
@Branden and TTBALA and the rest of the nuts from the socailist party you are all going to get a rude awakening this November. You can blame Bush all you want(By the way subprime mess was your bed buddy BarneY Frank and Chris Dodds mess) Look up Fannie and Freddie as well you may educate your pea sized brains. You 2 nuts need to find a job so people like me can put away more money rather than pay for your lazy *&%es. Your messiah wanted the job and said he would fix everything and has done nothing but make the problem worse. The country is on to you and this November will make 1994 look like a break even. Now stop reading this and go back to cashing in your food stamps and returning your cans for the 5 cent deposit...............................
Eric in Denver August 11th, 2010 4:43 pm ET
"@Branden and TTBALA and the rest of the nuts from the socailist party you are all going to get a rude awakening this November. You can blame Bush all you want(By the way subprime mess was your bed buddy BarneY Frank and Chris Dodds mess) Look up Fannie and Freddie as well you may educate your pea sized brains."
Over 70% of the subprime loans were issued by private institutions under no governmental programs. Now who's the pea-brain? Have a nice day!
Eric In Denver...either switch to de-caff or seek help. You really need it...
I have to laugh at the "behind closed doors" meeting that nonetheless managed to have an accompanying PHOTOGRAPH for the news article...half the group look like they are making their best "serious and concerned" pose...
Is Pete Souza part of the national security team??? Perhaps the WH photographer could wait in the hall...
This is one of those issues where you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. The reason for our invading Iraq changed so many times that I don't know how Americans will be able to tell if we won or lost this war as no one really knows what our objective was.
We had no real cause to invade Iraq. We had no real plan once we did other than according to Cheney that we would be welcomed with open arms and ticker tape parades by the liberated Iraqi people. The war was to be paid for with Iraqi oil which would be free flowing right into American tankers and all would be well with the world. It's a shame that no one informed the Iraqi people of their role.
The Iraqi war is coming to an end, no American involvement is coming to an end, we are withdrawing "combat" forces and leaving 50,000 targets of opportumity for the "liberated" Iraqi's to take shots at. I hope for the sake of our soldiers they are given ROE that permit hem to defend themselves and not have to receive permission to return fire if fired upon. It's a farce, Iraq has no real government, theit military and security forces are not professional in any sense of the word. The handling of the Iraqi War will prove to be he greatest blunder in American military history, yes I expect history to consider Vietnam a victory compared to Iraq long term. It shall remain a thorn in our side and a drain on our economy and military for years to come.
They do not understand in war this group, and generals are out of fashion with this administration, where vice president "bite me" is in charge and Axelrod looks at the recent polls to determine what to do in Iraq. Pathetic continuation of the Bush era.
If BHusseinO thinks things will stabilize in Iraq when he pulls out our ground troops he needs slap in the face to wake him up. Since he hasn't found anyone yet who's a++ he can kick, I still think he needs to start with his advisors. It's their country, the enemy is not leaving to go somewhere else, they're not on a timetable to stop fighting. What's he going to do when he pulls the combat troops out and the buildup and terrorism there escalates? which no doubt will. The guy is a nimwit and he's had enough on-the-job-training and the American people will decide he's not capable to do the job and he's not going to be hired (re-elected). He then can go back to where he came from and cry about how nobody liked him and all the mess was Bush's fault, and they didn't give him a chance, and blah blah blah blah.