ALL OF THE BENCHMARKS IN IRAQ POINT TOWARD THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S FAILURE IN THAT WAR AND OCCUPATION
Speech on the Floor of the Senate, June 28, 2007
On our path of disgrace and horror in Iraq, we recently passed another milestone, when the United States military death toll there reached 3,500. As the tragic killing continues, we have now substantially exceeded that. As of yesterday we have lost 3,570 Americans in our war and occupation of that country.
Our wounded now number 26,129.
In just the past 10 days, we have had 40 fatalities.
Madam President, when is enough enough? How many more lives have to be sacrificed to satiate the ego of George W. Bush?
Despite the sacrifice being made by American soldiers and their families, we are no closer to a resolution of the conflict today than we were when it began. If anything, a successful outcome is more distant than ever, and the situation steadily worsens. There has been a lot of talk about benchmarks to progress in Iraq, but all of the benchmarks to date highlight our failure.
It has been 1,520 days, more than four years, since the Bush Administration declared “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq.
It has been more than three and a half years since the capture of Saddam Hussein.
And earlier this month, we passed the one-year mark since the killing of Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi.
We are now more than six months into the American troop surge, the new Bush strategy that he concocted days after his party was thrashed in last November’s Congressional elections. The result has not been a safer, more peaceful Iraq. The only real difference is that the American military death toll has been growing at a more rapid rate. Last month, in May of 2007, we had 126 American soldiers killed in Iraq – the third highest monthly total since we invaded more than four years ago.
A top American commander in Iraq, General Raymond Odierno, said a week ago that despite the stepped up American offensive against Al Qaeda, only about 40 percent of Baghdad is secure on a regular basis. Thirty percent of the city is simply unsafe, while another 30 percent has a high level of violence. The main focus of Bush’s surge has been gaining control of Baghdad, but we can’t even pacify one city – a city that is just a little larger than Chicago in geographic area, and about two thirds the size of New York City in population.
There are some benchmarks that the Bush Administration probably sees as positive, although the American public might not agree. For example, Dick Cheyney’s old company, Haliburton, has received a 600 percent increase in government contracts since Bush and Cheyney took office, including more than 10 billion dollars in Pentagon contracts. Its profits have increased 368 percent. And it’s no wonder. In Iraq, some Haliburton employees are third world laborers paid just five dollars a day. Yet Haliburton charged the U.S. government 50 dollars a day. In February of this year, federal investigators looking into contracting practices in Iraq found Haliburton responsible for 2.7 billion dollars in waste.
If this had happened during World War II, Harry Truman would have called this war profiteering and would have conducted a Senate investigation. This administration, instead, condones such behavior. It supports the profiteering of a company that will not even be headquartered in America much longer, because Haliburton is moving to Dubai.
Most Americans are not aware that while we have about 160,000 troops in Iraq, we also have more than 100,000 contract employees, working for Haliburton and other favored companies. And most Americans are not aware that the American death toll in Iraq -- now more than 3,500 military personnel -- does not include the American contract employees killed there. The Pentagon does not keep those official statistics, but the U.S. Labor Department, which tracks workers compensation claims, counts more than 900 deaths and 12,000 woundings of American contract employees in Iraq.
When you look at the practices of this administration -- from a war based on lies, to the illegal wiretapping of U.S. citizens, to the depraved and illegal actions at Abu Graib and Guantanamo prisons, to the lawlessness at the Justice Department – the common theme is that America has lost its moral compass, the one that George W. Bush promised to restore.
Other nations used to look at America as a beacon of freedom and of the rule of law for the rest of the world. Now, those countries, even some of our allies, are unable to stand by idly and silently watching the American government violates its own constitution. Italy is prosecuting CIA agents for kidnapping an Egyptian national, a Muslim cleric, in their country and shipping him off to be tortured elsewhere. The CIA agents are currently being tried in absentia, with little hope that they will be extradited if they are found guilty. But at least the Italians think it is important to stand up for the principles that we are supposed to respect as part of our Constitution.
We are being humiliated and disgraced further as we resort to having other civilized nations and allies enforce our own laws against kidnapping and torture.
Of course, the Bush Administration does not just show
contempt for our constitution in its actions abroad, but also here at
home. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, when he was questioned about
the hirings and firings of U.S. Attorneys, had the audacity to tell the
Senate 71 times that he "didn't remember" important facts which other
witnesses later said that he had to have known about,. Then we had FBI
Director Robert Mueller admitting that his agency violated federal
criminal laws a number of times by practicing illegal wiretapping. Yet,
do we suspect that for one minute that Gonzales will investigate and
prosecute Mueller for the crimes that he has admitted that his FBI
committed? No, because our Justice Department is being run by Karl Rove
for the benefit of his conservative Republican agenda. And many
Democrats as well as Republicans who the White House considers enemies
throughout the country are suffering! Our Founding Fathers are spinning
in their graves over how horrible this Bush Administration has perverted
and violated the very constitution that they adopted more than 200
hundred years ago.
Lance Corporal Brandon J. Van Parys, 20, of New Tripoli, died February 5 while conducting combat operations in Al Anbar province. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force.
They are among the 168 Pennsylvania soldiers who have lost their lives in combat in Iraq, the third-most fatalities of any state, behind only California and Texas.
Another 1,109 Pennsylvanians have been wounded, the fifth highest state total, behind California, Texas, New York and Florida.
Thank you Madam President.
Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo