September 19, 2004

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senators from both parties urged the Bush administration on Sunday to make a realistic assessment of the situation in Iraq and adjust its policies aimed at pacifying the country.

The chairman, Sen. Richard Lugar, noted that Congress appropriated $18.4 billion a year ago this week for reconstruction. No more than $1 billion has been spent. "This is the incompetence in the administration," Lugar, R-Ind., said on ABC's This Week.

"Exactly right," interjected Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, the committee's top Democrat. He said later: "This has been incompetence so far. Five% of the $18.4 billion that George Bush keeps ... beating the other candidate up and about the head for how he voted and didn't vote, and he's released 5%."

Sen. John McCain, who has campaigned often with the president, said mistakes in Iraq generally can be attributed to inadequate manpower. McCain, R-Ariz., said problems began arising shortly after the dash through the desert to take Baghdad, the capital, in April 2003.

"We made serious mistakes right after the initial successes by not having enough troops on the ground, by allowing the looting, by not securing the borders," McCain said.

"Airstrikes don't do it; artillery doesn't do it. Boots on the ground do it," McCain told Fox News Sunday.

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