Defense Secretary Robert Gates continues his extraordinary record of saying the sort of thing that Bush Administration officials never say.
And speaking of the unsaid, the Bush Administration has never clearly said that it doesn’t want permanent bases in Iraq–and so this sort of agreement has to be watched very carefully. To be sure, these sorts of considerations are important:
American military officers have pressed for such a formal agreement with Iraq because it would spell out specific legal responsibilities and protections for American troops in Iraq. The actions of American troops, and of employees of private companies working under Pentagon and State Department contract, have been a source of growing concern in Iraq.
But Congress certainly shouldn’t ratify any agreement that could conceivably lead to permanent bases in Iraq, a terrible idea that–I’d guess–was very near the heart of the initial decision to invade Iraq.