McCain and Martinez listen as Pete Hegseth spoke today on Capitol Hill.

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
As Harry Reid kicked off his overnight piece of political theater, a group of combat tested veterans calling themselves Vets for Freedom gathered with several hawkish senators in the Mansfield Room on the Senate side of the Capitol to address the media. There was a short delay for a vote, and then in strode the leaders of the no-surrender caucus a few minutes later; Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Jon Kyl, Mel Martinez, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Joseph Lieberman stepped up to the podium and offered their thoughts on the Levin-Reed amendment. After praising a service member from his home state of Kentucky, McConnell asked that the Senate not "legislate defeat by mandating a retreat of our troops" from the battlefield and reminded the Senate that General Petraeus was told he would have until at least September to implement a winning strategy. Joe Lieberman then stepped up to the podium and praised Vets for Freedom for coming to his aid after the Kossack hordes helped to defeat him in Connecticut's Democratic primary. Like McConnell, Lieberman also decried the effort by his friends in the Senate to "legislate defeat by mandating a retreat of our troops." Noting the importation of cots as a prop to drive home the point that this thing would really go all night long, Lieberman accused "too many of my colleagues in this chamber [of being] asleep when it comes to Iraq. … The American military will never lose the war in Iraq." We'll only lose, he said, if we lose our political will. Pete Hegseth, the head of Vets for Freedom, rounded out the presentation, and the Iraq veteran agitated against "setting a deadline for defeat. … political progress takes time." Hegseth knows what the consequences of failure would be; he was visibly moved when he discussed the assassination of Aboud Hamid Salih, the mayor of Samarrah, who was murdered for the crime of working with coalition troops. Expect more such slayings if we begin pulling troops out now, Hegseth said--leaving the Iraq with our collective tail between our legs will damage American interests, embolden America's enemies, and invite a bloodbath within that country.
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