McCaskill: Mixed picture on progress in Iraq

The quality of Iraqi military forces is showing signs of improvement, but local police are still far from being able to control the violence in Iraq, Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill says.

A weekend meeting with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih did not leave the Missouri Democrat with much confidence in the government’s ability to improve matters.

“I don’t get the sense they’re close to doing the things that must be done politically to bring this country together,” McCaskill said in a telephone conference with reporters.

McCaskill spoke from Kuwait as she prepared to return home from her first visit to Iraq, where she traveled to focus on reports of waste and fraud in defense contracts.

Despite her concerns, McCaskill said she is not prepared to co-sponsor a Senate measure that would cut off money for combat operations in Iraq after March 2008. That measure won just 29 votes that last time it was considered in the Senate.

But she continues to support drawing down U.S. combat forces and wants to focus troops more on a counterinsurgency mission.