Bush: “Our mission in Iraq is clear.”
Fact: Actually, it isn’t.
Bush: “Our mission in Iraq is clear.”
Fact: Actually, it isn’t.
Bush: “This war reached our shores on September 11, 2001.”
Fact: The bi-partisan 9/11 Commission concluded that there was “no collaborative relationship” between Saddam and al-Qaeda [CNN, 6/17/04]
Fact: The bi-partisan 9/11 Commission found “no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaida cooperated on attacks against the United States.” [NewsHour, 6/16/04]
Fact: By invoking 9/11 President Bush is exploiting public confusion about Iraq’s involvement in 9/11. An October 2004 poll found that 75 percent of Bush supporters believe Iraq was providing substantial support to al-Qaida [Program on International Policy Attitudes, 10/21/04]
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE WAR ON TERROR
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you and good evening. I am pleased to visit Fort Bragg — “Home of the Airborne and Special Operations Forces.” It is an honor to speak before you tonight. My greatest responsibility as President is to protect the American people, and that is your calling as well. I thank you for your service, your courage and your sacrifice. I thank your families, who support you in your vital work. The soldiers and families of Fort Bragg have contributed mightily to our efforts to secure our country and promote peace. America is grateful — and so is your Commander-in-Chief. Read more
In tonight’s speech Bush misleads on the nature of the challenge we face in Iraq. Consider the following excerpt:
We are fighting against men with blind hatred – and armed with lethal weapons – who are capable of any atrocity. They wear no uniform; they respect no laws of warfare or morality. They take innocent lives to create chaos for the cameras. They are trying to shake our will in Iraq – just as they tried to shake our will on September 11, 2001.
We know that there are foreign fighters in Iraq who are only interested in creating chaos, but we also know that a good piece of the insurgency are in fact people who do not act out of “blind hatred,” but instead out of a very calculated political motive to gain power.
The administration clearly knows this because they are negotiating with the Sunni insurgents to bring them back into the power structure.
Yet, according to excerpts of his speech , which have just been released, President Bush will try to distract Americans from his lack of an Iraq strategy by invoking 9/11:
They are trying to shake our will in Iraq – just as they tried to shake our will on September 11, 2001.
The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of September 11 … if we abandon the Iraqi people to men like Zarqawi … and if we yield the future of the Middle East to men like Bin Laden.
Another predictably pathetic attempt to play on our emotions. This time, the American people aren’t buying it.
President Bush’s speech tonight at Fort Bragg, North Carolina is an effort to bolster plummeting support for the war in Iraq. It’s not the first time Bush has exploited troops for political purposes. According to a story that just came over the AP wire, Bush has done it five times already this year:
Already this year, Bush has visited Fort Hood, Texas, twice; has spoken to U.S. troops returning from Iraq at Wiesbaden Air Base in Germany; has stood with armed forces members in a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery; and has delivered the commencement address to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.
The President’s policies should stand on their on two feet — not on the backs of American troops.
This just in from the Hill. On the same day President Bush will use the soldiers at Fort Bragg as a backdrop for his address on Iraq, conservatives in the House have voted to underfund veterans’ health care by at least $1 billion.
The backstory: Last week, the Washington Post revealed that the budget for veterans’ health care was suffering a billion dollar shortfall this year, a fact unearthed “only during lengthy questioning” of a Veterans Affairs undersecretary.
The Bush administration had claimed on multiple occassions that the current budget was enough to provide full care. Back in February, Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson testified that he was “satisfied that we can get the job done with this budget.” Later, when Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) tried to add funds into the VA budget, Nicholson wrote her a letter assuring that the VA did not “need emergency supplemental funds in FY2005 to continue to provide timely, quality service that is always our goal.”
Yet today, even after the administration’s misleading claims had been exposed, and despite brand new data showing that demand for veterans health programs had grown twice as fast as the VA predicted earlier this year, House conservatives still voted to block any additional funding for veterans’ care.
Moments ago, Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX), the ranking minority member on the House Subcommittee on Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs, proposed making up the shortfall for vets’ care in a foreign aid bill that is still being considered. According to the AP, conservatives shot down the measure on a 217-189 vote.
The message the President will deliver tonight is that persistent violence in Iraq does not mean that we aren’t making progress. (Rather, we should focus on the “political track.”) Of course, when it appeared violence was abating, the administration cited it as evidence of success against the insurgency.
Here is Pentagon spokesman Larry DiRita on 3/3/05:
Q: Can I ask you about the fact that the casualty rate in Iraq for U.S. troops for February was apparently the lowest that it’s been since last July? I wonder how significant you think that is and what’s your analysis of why the number has gone down. Does it — what does it represent?
MR. DI RITA: Well, the commanders have spoken about their — the fact that the insurgencies are becoming — their capability is becoming somewhat cruder in its — in their ability to anticipate and target, because their — the coalition’s intelligence is getting better. And one of the reasons it’s getting better is because there are more and more Iraqi security forces directly involved in counterinsurgency activities….So I think you’re seeing also a growing public opposition to — and more — and people more willing to make public their opposition to the insurgency. And that’s almost certainly having an effect on the ability of the insurgents to operate with some — with impunity…
So, in March, the fact that violence went down was a sign that the insurgency was weakening, security forces were strengthening and Iraqi opposition was increasing. Now, as violence increases, we are told these issues are unrelated.
In 1999, George W. Bush criticized President Clinton for not setting a timetable for exiting Kosovo, and yet he refuses to apply the same standard to his war.
George W. Bush, 4/9/99:
“Victory means exit strategy, and it’s important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is.”
And on the specific need for a timetable, here’s what Bush said then and what he says now:
George W. Bush, 6/5/99
“I think it’s also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn.”
[ed. note: article originally ran in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on 6/5/99]
George W. Bush, 6/24/05:
“It doesn’t make any sense to have a timetable. You know, if you give a timetable, you’re — you’re conceding too much to the enemy.”