WASHINGTON, DC – Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, U.S. Senator Kit Bond, today criticized the Democratic Party for being in denial over the progress being made in Iraq and for their commitment to defeat in a central battleground in the war on terror.

“The Democratic Party is in denial. Despite the evidence of progress in Iraq, Democrats are still committed to defeat,” said Bond.

Over the next two days, General David Petraeus, the Commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, will testify before the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees in the House and Senate on the military and political progress being made in Iraq. Bond expects the testimony to show that the new counterinsurgency strategy, or COIN, backed up by a surge is working and has brought Iraqi citizens to our side in the fight against Al Qaeda.

Bond noted that since all the surge forces began operating in mid-2007 there is important security progress to point to: overall violence in Iraq, civilian deaths, sectarian killings and attacks on American forces are all down; coalition forces have captured or killed thousands of extremists in Iraq, including hundreds of key al Qaeda leaders and operatives; and American troops are beginning to return on success, including Bond’s son, a Marine who served two tours of duty in Iraq.

In addition to security progress the Iraqis are also making critical political progress. While recognizing much more needs to be done, Bond highlighted several important actions by the Iraqi government — the Iraqi government has enacted a pension law that keeps the promises made to Sunnis; enacted a de-Ba’athification law that allows mid-level Baath party members to renter political and civic life; passed a budget that focuses spending on security reconstruction projects and provincial governments; enacted an amnesty law; reached agreement on a provincial powers law that will ensure Iraqis the right to be heard in upcoming elections.

Despite this evidence of both security and political gains, Democrats are in denial of the progress in Iraq, said Bond. The Democrats rejection of the reality in Iraq does not extend just to the upcoming Petraeus and Crocker testimony, however. Bond pointed out that some in the Democratic Party also took issue with the classified Iraq National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) distributed to lawmakers last week. Always quick to tout and cherry-pick information from an NIE that could be twisted to support their motives, Democrats outright rejected the latest Iraq intelligence report for being too “rosy.”

Unfortunately, this denial is more than rhetoric and fodder for political attention. Defeat in Iraq would have serious national security implications, stressed Bond. Iraq is a central battleground in the war on terror and defeat there would give the terrorists who launched the 9-11 attacks a safe haven to export terror worldwide. In addition to giving Al Qaeda a safehaven, defeat in Iraq would embolden a nuclear-armed Iran. Bond emphasized that the intelligence community has testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in open hearing that if we withdraw from Iraq before their army and police can maintain security, violence and chaos will spread across the region.

Bond also criticized those Democrats who claim to want a precipitous and dangerous withdrawal from Iraq to benefit our “national security” but continue to deny our law enforcement and intelligence operators a key tool in the war on terror – terrorist surveillance. The short-term fix Bond authored – the Protect America Act – expired a month and a half ago and without updated surveillance laws, our intelligence community’s ability to detect and disrupt terrorist attacks is compromised.