Exclusive: House Intel Chairman Reyes Declares Opposition To Bush Troop Increase

In a new statement, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) tells ThinkProgress, “I don’t support the President’s plan to send an additional number of troops to Iraq,” arguing that Bush’s plan is “not tied to a specific strategy and will only needlessly endanger more soldiers.”

Reyes was an early opponent of the Iraq war and voted against the October 2002 Iraq resolution. But in a Newsweek interview earlier this year, Reyes said he would support sending some additional U.S. forces to Iraq.

Reyes explained his thinking at the time. “In late summer to early fall of 2006, military leaders were of the opinion that if given the mission to neutralize these militias, they could do so with a temporary increase of 20,000 to 30,000 troops. My position then was that this would be a worthwhile investment that would result in a more secure environment for our troops, and would provide the Iraqi government a better chance to establish itself.”

However, Reyes notes, as the year progressed, the security situation deteriorated further, and CentCom commander John Abizaid testified that sending additional troops was not advisable.

Yet President Bush has pushed ahead with troop increases anyway, a plan “supposedly initiated by Prime Minister Maliki.” Given Maliki’s “past performance and inability to command the Iraqi military or order the disarming of the militias,” Reyes argues, “the President’s support of this plan without specific benchmarks of accountability is unacceptable.” Moreover, he says, “When I met with the President before his announcement of the plan, I asked him if he intended to take the advice of the military leadership and use the troops for dealing with the militias; the President confirmed that his plan was not the same.”

Now, Reyes says, the solution “is to make the Iraqi government accountable for both their own security, with U.S. support, and to find a political solution to the sectarian differences and subsequent violence, not to put additional U.S. troops in danger.”

[ThinkProgress is keeping track of where every member of Congress stands on escalation. Using media reports, press releases, and submissions from hundreds of readers, we’ve compiled an interactive tally showing every member’s position. (Check it out HERE.)