Iran's Influence In Iraq Angers Boxer

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) repeatedly attempted to prod Petraeus and Crocker to acknowledge that Iran's influence inside Iraq has grown even as Americans continue to fight and die in Iraq.

Crocker tried to downplay the issue, calling Iran's influence a "mixed bag," but Boxer was having none of it. Crocker also noted that "thousands, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Shias" were killed during the 1980-1988 war between Iran and Iraq.

The California Democrat, though, wqas have none of it. Boxer was particularly outraged by the fact that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the first official state visitor to Iraq, openly embraced by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, while President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other American officials can only make surprise, unannounced visits under tight security.

"I give up," Boxer exlaimed after failing to get an direct answer from Crocker on the extent of Iranian influence inside Iraq. "They kissed him [Ahmadinejad] on the cheek!"