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Ros-Lehtinen defends Petraeus

Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a staunch supporter of the war in Iraq, offered a defense of Gen. David Petraeus Monday as he delivered his long-awaited report on President Bush's troop surge to Congress.

She and other Republicans took particular aim at the group, Move.On.Org, which ran a newspaper ad suggesting that the general was "cooking the books for the White House."

Her insistence that Democrats denounce the group prompted some grumbling.

"Nobody has to distance themselves from something they weren't associated with,'' said Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii.

"Take it easy,'' Ros-Lehtinen shot back.

To Petraeus she said: "I trust your reporting and that of our troops on the ground regarding the levels of sectarian violence, over those compiled by individuals and entities who wish to discredit the information to justify an immediate withdrawal," said Ros-Lehtinen, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "For all who have served and died defending what our nation holds dear, I hope we too, raise to the occasion and not let them down by precipitously withdrawing from the fight before the mission is completed."

Ros-Lehtinen drew brickbats last week for suggesting it was "unsettling" to have Congress' investigative arm, the Government Accountablity Office, weigh in on the war. Several left-leaning websites noted that Ros-Lehtinen has "had no problem" citing the work of the GAO when it suits her. The GAO found that the Iraqi government has failed to meet a majority of political or military goals set by Congress.

Ros-Lehtinen noted that she's had personal advisors on Iraq as well, noting that her stepson, Douglas, and daughter-in-law Lindsay, both Marine captains, served there. Lindsay is now in Afghanistan.

Other Florida reps on the two committees hosting Petraeus include Miami Democrat Rep. Kendrick Meek, who returned recently from Iraq saying he's convinced its time for the US to leave. He's not yet had a chance to speak.