INTELLIGENCE ASSESSMENTS INDICATE THAT OUR PRESENCE IN IRAQ IS MAKING TERRORISM THREAT WORSE -- Speech on the Floor of the Senate, October 3, 2006
With the typical methods of a propagandist, the Bush Administration and its allies disparage anyone who wants to pursue the only sensible course in Iraq as “cut and run” cowards. Over and over again, they hurl insults at anyone who questions their decisions.
And so it goes. From this administration we get slogans and childish name calling instead of thoughtful debate about public policy. And they feed us their nonsense despite wave after wave of factual data that contradicts their position.
Our presence in Iraq is making the world, including America, less safe. It is not preventing terrorism, it is promoting it. It is not convincing the Arab world that we are there to bring them freedom and democracy, it is convincing them to hate us in ever greater numbers.
Those are not just my conclusions or opinions. Rather, they belong to non-partisan foreign policy analysts and intelligence experts, including some who report directly to the White House.
Perhaps the most damning report yet issued was the one that was revealed several weeks ago. An assessment by combined United States intelligence agencies found that the war in Iraq has increased the overall terrorist threat since the attacks of September 11, 2001. The National Intelligence Estimate represents the opinion of 16 spy agencies within the U.S. government. Their conclusion: The global terrorist threat is growing, not decreasing, and the U.S. presence in Iraq is helping Islamic radicalism to spread. These are Bush’s own intelligence officials who are saying this.
Their estimate is consistent with other reports. A week earlier, the Republican controlled House Intelligence Committee released its assessment. It said that the Jihadist movement in the Middle East is growing.
The independent research group, Council on Global Terrorism, gave the United States a grade of D-minus for its efforts to combat Muslim extremism over the past five years.
And yet, in all of its public pronouncements of the past few months – most of which have been part of an orchestrated effort aimed at this fall’s elections – the Bush Administration continues to tell the American people that we are making progress in Iraq.
One of the things we heard from them over and over is that as the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down. Yet in an Associated Press story two weeks ago, issued just several days after the National Intelligence Estimate became public, senior American military personnel in Iraq questioned whether the Iraq Army will ever be up to that task. The story said U.S. commanders and soldiers are frustrated about the reliability of the Iraq Army. They pointed out that most Iraq soldiers are more loyal to their sectarian militias rather than to their new national government.
That observation confirms another report from early September by the Government Accountability Office, which reports to Congress. The GAO said that the political process in Iraq has actually sharpened the sectarian divisions in that country. As time goes on, the people there identify themselves less and less as Iraqis. More and more, they define themselves as Shiites or Sunnis or Kurds. The GAO said this probably foretells a further deterioration of the security situation in Iraq. It is yet another example of the Bush Administration’s failure to understand the country it invaded. Bush trumpeted each step along the way to Iraqi democracy as a great achievement that proved we were on the right course. The GAO report gives us the reality. It said: “the December 2005 elections appeared to heighten sectarian tensions and polarize sectarian divides.”
Everything we see and everything we hear, from every impartial and unbiased authority, tells us that the situation in Iraq is an unmitigated disaster, and that our continued presence there contributes to the problem. There is just one voice in the wilderness – the one emanating from the White House.
Well, almost the only voice. Forever the ally of the Bush Administration, Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania appeared in Hershey last week and said he did not agree with the National Intelligence Estimate’s conclusions. Sixteen U.S. intelligence services assessed the situation. Non-partisan officials, military officials, and independent analysts agree. But Rick Santorum knows better. He said he did not think our presence in Iraq has intensified Islamic radicalism.
For a large and growing majority of Americans, however, the evidence is clear. George W. Bush’s refusal to face reality is so stark that Bob Woodward made Bush’s mental condition the title of his new book that was published this week. He called it State of Denial.
And so I say, it is time to do what is in truly America’s interest, and pull our troops out of Iraq. Call it “cut and run” or whatever other Karl Rove label you want to put on it. I don’t care. Under any name, it is the course of action that is best for America. To stay there is only to delay the inevitable, while U.S. soldiers die in a misguided mission that makes us more vulnerable to terrorism.
To those who say we must stay in Iraq to “finish the job,” I ask: “What job?” We are not bringing freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people. We are not making their country safer, nor ours. The only job we are performing there is to bring chaos and destruction to that country, and we are breeding more terrorists in the process.
The American death toll in Iraq is now up to 2,719. Another 19,910 have been wounded. Among the dead are these two brave Pennsylvanians, and I ask you now to honor their memory:
(Here Senator Fumo mentioned the name of a soldier from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force killed in October of 2005. The soldier’s name has been removed from this web site at the request of his immediate family.)
Lance Corporal Patrick B. Kenny, 20, of Pittsburgh, died October 6, 2005 from an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations against enemy forces near Al Karmah, Iraq. He also was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force.
Thank You Madam President.
Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo