U.S. Senators attend Classified satellite meeting on Iraq

by Steve Handelsman

NBC News

Dozens of Congress members attended a classified satellite briefing from Baghdad Thursday morning.

It was part of the latest effort by President Bush to keep Congress from forcing him to start a troop pullout from Iraq.

A growing number of Republicans want a new Iraq war plan, but most haven't yet voted against the surge.

Around 90 lawmakers took buses to the Pentagon for the classified briefing from Baghdad.

It's the first of three special satellite connections from Iraq to Washington ordered by President Bush was to sell his surge plan to lawmakers.

He made the same pitch to the public in Tennessee on Thursday.

Republican Pete Domenici left the Pentagon unconvinced.

"New things are working very well. But serious problems still remain," said Domenici.

On the second satellite feed was the U-S combat commander in Iraq, and the third satellite feed put the U-S Ambassador to Iraq into a Senate hearing.

Ambassador Ryan Crocker admitted, that despite the surge, one word sums up life now in Iraq.

"In the neighborhoods and at the national level, that word would be fear," said Crocker.

Another Republican who doubts the surge is Senator George Voinovich.

"It's inevitable that the U-S is gonna disengage," said Voinovich.

That was the message back to Baghdad, and the White House.

Top Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid who are committed to forcing the start of a U-S pullout as soon as possible did not attend the Baghdad briefings.