DESPITE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE EXPRESSING THEIR WILL IN THE NOVEMBER ELECTIONS, AND DESPITE THE LACK OF SUCCESS IN HIS WAR, GEORGE BUSH PROPOSES SENDING MORE TROOPS TO IRAQ WHILE AMERICAN SOLDIERS CONTINUE TO DIE. -- Speech on the Floor of the Senate, January 17, 2007.
When I last spoke about Iraq on November 20 in this chamber, 2,866 American soldiers had been killed by the fighting in George Bush’s war. Since that date, another 158 brave but unfortunate Americans have lost their lives in combat there.
The sacrifice of those 158 soldiers has pushed our nation beyond several sad but important milestones in this misbegotten, unnecessary conflict.
On Christmas Day, December 25, 2006, we lost our 2,974th American soldier in Iraq. Thus, as of that date, George W. Bush had sent more Americans to their deaths than the terrorists killed on September 11th, 2001 in New York, Washington and Somerset, Pennsylvania. By the most accurate count now possible, 2,973 men and women were the victims of the terrorist highjackings. Now the American death toll in Iraq has exceeded that number. In the process – and this is not my opinion but rather that of non-partisan intelligence experts and even retired generals – the war has made us less safe in the face of terrorism. We have managed to increase the threat of terrorism by invading a country that had nothing to do with the September 11 terrorist attacks. Instead, we all but forgot about Osama bin Laden and the terrorist training grounds in Afghanistan. We have lost approximately 10 times as many fighting men and women in Iraq as we have in Afghanistan, where we should have concentrated our efforts.
Then on the final day of 2006, we passed another milestone. The Pentagon announced the loss on December 31 of two more Americans, pushing the number of our combats deaths in Iraq above 3,000.
Ironically, we crossed the 3,000 threshold on the same day that the body of Saddam Hussein was buried. His capture was among many events that were supposed to be momentous steps toward peace and prosperity in Iraq, or so the neoconservatives of the Bush Administration tried to tell us. When we defeated the regular Iraqi Army with shock and awe, it was supposed to be the end of combat operations. Then when we captured Saddam it was supposed to be a major turning point. Then when the Iraqis held their first provisional elections, it was supposed to be a major turning point. And when they adopted a constitution it was supposed to be a major turning point. And when they elected a government it was supposed to be a major turning point. And when we killed terrorist leader al Zarqawi it was supposed to be a major turning point.
None of it ever turns out to be true. The only meaningful markers that we actually pass, as we travel down Bush’s road to disaster, are the ones that tell us how many young American lives we are sacrificing to a mission that most Americans can’t even define any more.
As I stand here today, the latest Defense Department casualty reports list our military death toll in Iraq at 3,024. Another 22,834 have been wounded.
Since George Bush announced that “major combat operations in Iraq are over” while standing on an air craft carrier in front of a Mission Accomplished banner, 2,885 American solders have died. Since July of 2003, when said with his characteristic smugness, “Bring them on,” 2,817 Americans have died. Since we killed al Zarqawi, 564 Americans have died.
Among the fallen are these two brave Pennsylvanians:
Private First Class Shelby J. Feniello, 25, of Connellsville, died October 9 while conducting combat operations against enemy forces in Al Anbar province. PFC Feniello was assigned to 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force.
Corporal Carl W. Johnson II, 21, of Philadelphia Pa. died on October 7 in Mosul from injuries suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. Corporal Johnson was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
In addition to the soldiers, there have also been several hundred contractors from various countries killed in Iraq, of whom 147, by last count, are Americans.
This war has now lasted 46 months, which is longer than America’s involvement in World War 2, from the attack on Pearl Harbor to the surrender of Japan.
And in the face of all this, George Bush responds by going on television to tell the American people that he is sending additional troops to Iraq -- the same American people who sent a loud and clear message to him in the elections last November that they want our troops out of Iraq.
George Bush should get past his ego. He should get over himself and listen to the will of the people. He did admit in his televised speech last week that mistakes occurred on his watch. But in response, he proposes more and bigger mistakes.
Members of his own party already are speaking out against his plan. Many members of the Democratic Party will likewise oppose him. There are moments in history when a nation is called upon to sacrifice lives and treasure to defend itself, and its freedom. This is not one of those times. We are not defending ourselves, we are putting our nation and our fighting men and women deeper into jeopardy with every day we stay. It is time for George Bush to listen to reason and start bringing our troops home, and it is time for our Congress to stand up to him and tell him that the American people have had enough.
Thank you, Madam President.
Copyright 2000 Sen. Vincent J. Fumo