SENATOR FUMO'S REMARKS ON THE FLOOR OF THE SENATE, JUNE 6, 2006, REGARDING THE AMERICAN PUBLIC'S DECLINING SUPPORT FOR THE WAR IN IRAQ AS THEY HEAR THE TRUTH FROM MILITARY EXPERTS.
Several weeks ago, a poll printed in the Morning Call of Allentown showed that only 35 percent of Pennsylvanians still believe the war in Iraq is worth fighting. Only about the same percentage believe it has made our nation safer from a terrorist attack.
It is true that polls do not always serve as the best guide to good public policy, but in this case, I believe the polls merely reflect what the public is hearing from military experts.
Increasingly, we find that people who know much more than we civilians know – people who are in a position to evaluate George W. Bush’s decision to invade and occupy Iraq – are saying that he botched the job.
At one time, after hearing a lot of misleading information about the reasons for war, and a lot of bravado from Bush, Cheyney and their minions, the American people were united in support of the war. But now they know it was all lies.
Not since the 1930s and 40s has the world seen a propagandist as skilled and evil as Karl Rove!
Rove was able to manipulate public opinion through disinformation. As a result, we have seen thousands of American soldiers killed, and tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians – men, women and children – slaughtered and maimed and orphaned, because their country has been plunged into chaos by a war that we started.
At latest count, 2,475 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq, and another 17,869 have been wounded. Among the dead are these two brave Pennsylvanians:
Specialist Mark W. Melcher, 34, of Pittsburgh, died in Al Taqaddum, Iraq on April 15, when his M1A1 Abrams tank came under enemy small-arms fire during combat operations. Melcher was assigned to the National Guard's 1st Battalion, 103rd Armor.
Private Travis C. Zimmerman, 19, of New Berlinville, died in Baghdad on April 22, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his observation post during dismounted combat reconnaissance operations. Zimmerman was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.
Bush, Cheyney and Rumsfeld were counting on their lies being covered up by a swift and certain victory. Everyone remembers shock and awe, right? Well, it turns out the ones who are shocked and awed are the leaders of this administration, who find themselves glued like tar babies to a war that the American public no longer supports.
The American people have grown much wiser, partly because they are finally hearing from retired military leaders who are speaking out. A growing number of former Generals have called upon Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to resign, and in the process, they have criticized not only his competence, but also the policy decisions of this administration.
The first to speak out was Marine Lieutenant General Greg Newbold, the Pentagon's top operations officer during preparations for the invasion of Iraq. One statement he made in a Time Magazine article was widely quoted. He said that the decision to invade Iraq “was done with a casualness and a swagger that are the special province of those who never had to execute these missions, or bury the results.”
Newbold had much more to say that was not quoted very extensively in news stories, so I am going to read a longer passage now from his Time article.
“After 9/11, I was a witness and therefore a party to the actions that led us to the invasion of Iraq--an unnecessary war. Inside the military family, I made no secret of my view that the zealots' rationale for war made no sense. And I think I was outspoken enough to make those senior to me uncomfortable. But I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat--al-Qaeda. I retired from the military four months before the invasion, in part because of my opposition to those who had used 9/11's tragedy to hijack our security policy. Until now, I have resisted speaking out in public. I've been silent long enough.
“I am driven to action now by the missteps and misjudgments of the White House and the Pentagon, and by my many painful visits to our military hospitals. In those places, I have been both inspired and shaken by the broken bodies but unbroken spirits of soldiers, Marines and corpsmen returning from this war. The cost of flawed leadership continues to be paid in blood. The willingness of our forces to shoulder such a load should make it a sacred obligation for civilian and military leaders to get our defense policy right. They must be absolutely sure that the commitment is for a cause as honorable as the sacrifice.”
In another passage, Newbold wrote wrote:
“What we are living with now is the consequences of successive policy failures. Some of the missteps include: the distortion of intelligence in the buildup to the war, McNamara-like micromanagement that kept our forces from having enough resources to do the job, the failure to retain and reconstitute the Iraqi military in time to help quell civil disorder, the initial denial that an insurgency was the heart of the opposition to occupation, alienation of allies who could have helped in a more robust way to rebuild Iraq, and the continuing failure of the other agencies of our government to commit assets to the same degree as the Defense Department.”
Paul Eaton, a retired Army Major General who was in charge of training the Iraqi military in 2003 and 2004, also called for Rumsfeld’s resignation. Eaton said Rumsfeld “ignored the advice of seasoned officers and denied subordinates any chance for input.”
Six other retired generals have similarly spoken out. So the American public is now getting an accurate picture from people who are in a position to know what reality is. And it is not only high-ranking officers who are influencing their opinion. In February, another opinion poll by Zogby International found that among the troops in the field in Iraq, only 23 percent support Bush’s policies, while 72 percent said that all U.S. troops should be out of Iraq within one year. Twenty nine percent of the troops in the field were so disgusted that they actually said the U.S. should pull out immediately. Is it any wonder that the American public’s support of the war is declining, when they hear this from the soldiers who are actually fighting that war?
Then there is the case of Pat Tillman. A former NFL player for Arizona, Tillman quit football and joined the Army Rangers. When he was killed in Afghanistan, the Bush Administration’s image machine at first tried to make him a poster boy for their policies. Not until five weeks later, after Bush’s political supporters had gotten enough mileage out of his tragic death, did the Pentagon admit that he was killed by friendly fire. That prompted his mother, Mary Tillman, to say: “They could have told us up front that they were suspicious that [his death] was fratricide, but they didn’t. They wanted to use him for their purposes…They needed something that looked good, and it was appalling that they would use him like that.”
And that is not all. Some of Tillman’s Army buddies say he was against Bush and his policies in Iraq. Tillman proudly served in Afghanistan, where we were actually fighting al-Qaeda terrorists, but he opposed the Iraqi invasion in the strongest of terms. One of his close friends, Army specialist Russell Baer, said of Tillman in a magazine article: “I can see it like a movie screen. We were outside [of an Iraqi city] watching as the bombs were dropping on the town…We were talking, And Pat said: ‘You know, this war is so (blank)ing illegal.’ And we all said: ‘Yeah.’ “
Despite mounting evidence of Rumsfeld’s incompetence, George W. Bush stands behind his Defense Secretary. To do otherwise, of course, would be to admit that this has all been a mistake, and we know what a difficult time King George has doing that.
So George continues to wage his war, not just on Iraq, but on America and the freedoms that were handed down to us by the founding fathers. That’s right; there is a huge war out there on America – not the one being waged by Osama bin Laden from a cave that Bush still can’t find, but rather by King George W. Bush. It is being waged against America, her economy, and her very existence! It is being waged against even poor and middle class Americans. It is war to rape them at the gas pump, endanger their basic civil rights, and ultimately to enslave them in a government run by an Imperial and Dictatorial President with the IQ of an imbecile!!
Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo