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Democratic senators join Clinton in urging Pentagon to end war in Iraq

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday enlisted the help of other Democratic senators in her feud with the Pentagon over end-of-war planning in Iraq.

Clinton, the Democratic Party's front-runner, is in a dispute with Pentagon leadership since she sought a briefing on what planning if any they had done for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

In response to her questions, Undersecretary Eric Edelman last week sent her a tough-worded letter saying public discussion of such matters "reinforces enemy propaganda."

Clinton called that charge an outrageous political attack, and has asked Defense Secretary Robert Gates for an explanation.

The New York lawmaker and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee also is drumming up support on her side among fellow Democrats, including 2004 presidential nominee John Kerry. On Monday, she and three other Senate Democrats - Robert Byrd, Jim Webb and Evan Bayh - asked the chairman of the Armed Services panel to hold a hearing on the subject.

"The need for the committee to know the status of Department of Defense redeployment planning is clear, yet past efforts by individual members to obtain this information were rebuffed," the senators wrote to the chairman, Sen. Carl Levin.

The Democrats also noted that the issue has already been raised by two senior Republicans. Legislation offered by Sens. John Warner and Richard Lugar sought to have the Pentagon report to Congress in October on end-of-war planning.

Clinton's very public feud with a senior aide at the Pentagon may boost her standing among anti-war voters and liberal Democrats critical in the Democratic primaries next year. Some anti-war voters are wary of her candidacy because she voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq in 2002.

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