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Pre-traeus « The Washington Independent

We’re about an hour from tipoff in the David Petraeus/Ryan Crocker Senate hearings, so let’s start the pregame coverage. Check The Streak all day for Petraeus-liveblogging. The good folks at Democracy Arsenal will be doing the same, and I’m sure many other excellent blogs — and even some MSM outfits — will join in the fun.

For a guide to why Petraeus might say what he says, you could do worse than this piece of mine. But in addition to what’s mentioned in the piece, here’s what I’m curious about this morning:

  • Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is openly threatening to ban the Sadrists from the fall provincial elections. Yes! Block the most popular Shiite party in Iraq — with the most fanatical militiamen — from the political process! Stability ahoy! Is that light I see at the end of this tunnel?
  • When he last testified to Congress in September, Petraeus itemized his security statistics by the week to demonstrate a downturn in violence. Will he do that again, or will he go month-to-month? The New York Times reports today on violence climbing in March. It’ll be interesting to see whether/how Petraeus acknowledges that. (To say nothing of all the GOP Senators — and Joe Lieberman — who constantly hector that antiwar forces “ignore the gains of the surge.”)
  • Relatedly: watch what Petraeus sets as the baseline comparison for his likely contention that violence remains down. In other words, will he say something like, “Senators, violence in Iraq in April 2008 is the lowest it’s been since early 2005″? Or the much-weaker claim that “Senators, violence in Iraq in April 2008 is the lowest it’s been since we began the surge”?
  • Then there’s the Obama/McCain/Clinton factor. I’ll leave that in the expert hands of my colleague Holly Yeager.
  • Finally, perhaps the biggest unanswered question is whether Petraeus has been juicing. Ray Odierno is said to have testified that Brian McNamee administered several shots of both anabolic steroids and human growth hormone to Petraeus in the Camp Victory clubhouse. It’s well known that Petraeus is in excellent shape, far better than the typical man his age, and he continues to put up career numbers… Oh, wait, I’m thinking of the Roger Clemens hearings. Never mind!

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