Senator John Warner, who heads the US Armed Services Committee, came back from a visit to Iraq earlier this week saying he was discouraged by the 'steps backward' the country has taken since he last visited.
'I think it's a responsibility of our government internally to determine: Is there a change of course that we should take?' Warner told reporters on Capitol Hill Thursday.
His remarks came as US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in Iraq to urge Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and President Jalal Talibani to step up to the challenges of coping with a resilient insurgency while trying to prevent a full blown civil war between Shiites and Sunnis.
The week has been one of the bloodiest for US soldiers there, with 23 deaths.
Warner said he would not 'take off the table any option at this time.'
'It seems to me that the situation is simply drifting side-wise and that, while I believe the government is trying .... the various departments and agencies ... are simply not (meeting) fundamental reponsibilities of a government.'
Warner raised doubts about a plan that Maliki was 'optimistic' about - a plan to make progress in briging under control the country's two largest private armed militia. Warner said the US state and defence departments had not been able to even get a copy of the signed document.
Handing to reporters a copy of a speech by Maliki describing the plan, Warner warned: 'It's five pages long. And you're hard put to figure out how this represents a plan that was so carefully described to us.'
'It's hard to see this government beginning to seize the full reins of sovereignty, which we have given them,' Warner said. 'You do not see them taking the levers of sovereignty and pulling and pushing them, and doing what is necessary to bring about a situation in Iraq whereby the people are able to live, have sufficient food and fresh water, and have a sense of confidence in their government that they're going forward.'