Miller, Pelosi, Eshoo just back from Middle East

Three Bay Area House members have just returned from a four-day, bi-partisan Congressional delegation trip to Iraq, Qatar and Israel, where they met with U.S. troops from the Bay Area as well as with military commanders and foreign leaders.

Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, issued a statement today saying he gained valuable insights on the region.

“I get a lot of good information in Washington, but when it comes to making tough decisions about our troops and our nation’s security it is also essential to get a first-hand view in critical parts of the world like Iraq and the Middle East,” he said. “The opportunity to meet face-to-face with U.S. military commanders and American troops on the ground to better understand the conditions there is invaluable.

“The troops we met with expressed a huge sense of pride over the daring mission that resulted in the killing of Osama bin Laden,” Miller continued. “Clearly, even the troops that were not directly involved in the raid were proud to be members of the military forces that accomplished it. And they have every right to feel that way. The mission was a huge victory for our country’s security efforts and for President Obama, U.S. military forces and the American intelligence community. And hopefully the death of bin Laden will hasten the return of American troops from the war in Afghanistan.

“Regardless of one’s position on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the men and women who serve this country day in and day out are to be commended. Their sacrifice and the sacrifices made by their families and friends is something that we must always keep in mind.”

Also among the delegation’s members were House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco; Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto; Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.; Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass.; Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.; Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.; Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y.; and Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La.

Read Miller’s travelogue, after the jump…

The co-del visited first with U.S. troops at Al Udeid airbase and other facilities in Qatar, a U.S. ally; these facilities are logistics, command and basing hubs for CENTCOM operations, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan. The delegation then traveled to Iraq to meet with Iraqi and U.S. officials in Baghdad.

“During our meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki, he made it pretty clear that he was going to stick with President Obama’s planned December 31 timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and that he was not planning to go back to his Parliament to ask for an extension of that deadline,” Miller said. “I think this a good indication that our troops will leave Iraq on the current schedule. That’s great news.”

The delegation also met with Gen. Lloyd Autstin, the commanding officer of U.S. troops in Iraq.

The delegation traveled to Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and later met with Israeli President Shimon Peres, opposition leader Tzipi Livni and Lt. General Michael Moeller, U.S. Security Coordinator, Israel–Palestinian Authority. Miller traveled separately to Ramallah, the West Bank, to meet with a leader of the Palestinian Authority.

“In Israel, as you can imagine, conversations turned to the Arab Spring and the political and security change that it brings to the Middle East, North Africa and the impact on Israel,” Miller said. “During our stay, our delegation met with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who will be coming to Washington in less than two weeks, and with President Peres and Opposition Leader Livni. All of them had much to say about the new proposed Reconciliation Agreement signed in Egypt by both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas — and all had a different take on the opportunities and dangers presented by this Reconciliation Agreement for Israel and the Peace Process.”

“I was also able to go to Ramallah to meet with PLA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to hear his thoughts on why the agreement was signed at this time and what he thought it meant to the future of the peace process and the role of Hamas,” Miller added. “All of this was fascinating and very timely in trying to assess what the change in the region means for Israel and the peace process.”

The bipartisan delegation also attended an Israel Memorial Day Ceremony and a Torch Lighting Ceremony at Mount Herzl before returning to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday in time for votes Tuesday night.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    This story was worth, at best, a graf or two.

  • Josh Richman

    I thought it might provide some insight into where House Democrats’ policy is headed, given that the Democratic Leader and the Democratic Policy Committee’s chairman were on the trip. But, RR, feel free to read only as much as you like.

  • Elwood

    With General Custer and her lieutenant Miller in command, the only destination possible is outer space.

  • John W

    I’d love to hear what the troops and foreign leaders have to say once all these fact-finding Congressional delegations get on the plane and head back home, packing those “with the troops” photo-op pics that they post on their websites and in campaign materials.

  • Elwood

    Re: #4

    I did a couple of years in Sam’s army and I can imagine what the troops are saying.

    If I even did an approximation of it, Josh would 86 me forever.

  • Publius

    Pelosi and George Miller are war criminals! How can they support the war in Lybia? Why are they not speaking out against this war hawk cowboy in the White House? Why have they been so silent?

    Your right Josh this is a portentous trip indeed. The future Dem foreign policy will be……

    -Everything that Bush did is bad.
    -Everything that Obama does is good.
    -Blame Bush for torture and Guantanamo, but use the intel and keep the military prison open.
    -You can only shoot and kill enemy combatants, but not water board them.
    -Last but not least take credit for everything, and smile when you are taking pictures with the troops.

    Miller and Pelosi are hypocritical lap dogs nothing more.

  • For Liberty

    As an American Citizen, I’m still trying to figure out why we are there (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc.)???

  • John W

    Re: #7

    We’ve been withdrawing from Iraq for a year now. We may not be 100% out of Dodge for quite some time, but it’s nothing like what it was two years ago.

    Afganistan is partly about killing Osama Bin Buried at Sea and his co-horts along the AfPak border and inside Pakistan, and keeping them from regrouping deep inside Afghanistan. But it’s also to keep nuclear-armed Pakistan from becoming the dominating force in Afghanistan, which would make nuclear-armed India none too happy.

    Libya — good question. But it looks like the rebels are gaining ground on the guy who blew up the airplane with hundreds of Americans over Scotland. Let’s hope the rebels turn out to be friendlies.

  • For Liberty

    Sorry, John W., it appears that you didn’t catch on to my facetious question.