General Petraeus: "We Haven't Turned Any Corners. We Haven't Seen Any Lights At The End Of The Tunnel"

The top American Commander in Iraq told two separate Congressional committees Tuesday that the progress touted by the Bush Administration was "fragile and reversible," the New York Times reports:

The commander, Gen. David H. Petraeus, refused under persistent questioning from Senate Democrats to say under what conditions he would favor new troop reductions, adding that he would not take the matter up until 45 days after a current drawdown is complete in July. His recommendation would leave just under 140,000 American troops in Iraq well into the fall.

The hearings lacked the suspense of last September's debate, when the focus was on measurable benchmarks and heightened expectations of speedy troop withdrawals.

But they thrust the war to the center of the presidential campaign, as General Petraeus faced questioning from the two Democrats and one Republican still vying for the White House. He told them that progress in Iraq had been "significant and uneven."

The general's tone was notably sober, and despite an intensified American military campaign over the past 15 months, he acknowledged: "We haven't turned any corners. We haven't seen any lights at the end of the tunnel."