Thursday, November 17, 2005

Influential House Democrat Wants Immediate Iraq Withdrawl

This is from the New York Times:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- An influential House Democrat who voted for the Iraq war called Thursday for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, another sign of growing unease in Congress about the conflict.

"This is the immediate redeployment of American forces because they have become the target," said Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., one of Congress' most hawkish Democrats. At times during his remarks to reporters, the decorated Vietnam War veteran was choking back tears.

"It is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering, the future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf region," Murtha said.

Murtha, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, has earned bipartisan respect for his grasp of military issues over three decades in Congress. He said announcing a U.S. withdrawal would provide the Iraqi government with an added incentive to have their own security forces take control of the conflict.

Murtha is a close adviser to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. For months, Pelosi has pushed for the Bush administration to outline an exit strategy, although she has stopped short of calling for an immediate troop pullout.

Some Senate Democrats have called for immediate or phased withdrawal.

Murtha's comments came just two days after the Senate voted to approve a statement that 2006 "should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty" to create the conditions for the phased withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Murtha voted to give the president authority to use force against Saddam Hussein in 2002. In recent months, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee defense panel has grown increasingly troubled with the direction of the war and with the Bush administration's handling of it, particularly following reports of secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe.

"The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion," Murtha said.

When one of the most hawkish Democrats on the House is saying we have to get out of Iraq, then we better stand up and take note of what he's saying. Of course, we know what the Bush administration's response would be to Murtha--NOT! And I would imagine Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will trot out the tired old argument of "Well, first you voted for the war, and now you want us to pull out before our mission is complete?" The problem with the Bush White House is that there is no clearly defined set of policy goals, with details, that the U.S. must achieve before leaving Iraq. All we hear about are these vague notions of completing our mission--we must complete our mission. Never mind the fact that Bush has never told us what our mission is. Of course, we haven't gotten into insurgency, the secret CIA prisons and reports of torture, Rummy's flawed military strategy of faster, cheaper, smaller (Think U.S. troops running around Iraq in unarmored Humvees), the continuing Valerie Plame / misuse or marketing of intelligence by the White House.

It is coming together into a five-year perfect storm.

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