Back From Iraq, Two GOP Senators Have Different Views

Just back from a trip to Iraq, Republican Sens. Kit Bond of Missouri and Olympia Snowe of Maine say they've seen remarkable changes in war-torn Ramadi but appear to differ on the long-term efforts to snuff out terrorism in the nation.

Bond, whom GOP lawmakers put in front of cameras yesterday after the weekly caucus lunch, described the situation as stable in Iraq and said he was encouraged that the military surge was working. In Ramadi, he described walking around with just a small security force and said that local authorities have reported a boost in those joining the police and military. And overall, he saw positive changes in the nation.

"Obviously this is very early," he said, "but the signs are extremely positive."

Snowe, according to aides, said she was also surprised at the situation in Ramadi and found the military briefers upbeat in their assessments overall. However, she found the longer-term analysis from intelligence officials much more sobering and was still planning to push her compromise plan to require Iraqi authorities to meet benchmarks in building a better security and political environment before receiving expanded funding.

By Paul Bedard