Thursday, November 17, 2005

War in Iraq & Proof Pre-War Intel was Manipulated

The two articles in this post say it all. We must end this madness before the madness ends us!--Jack

War in Iraq
By Congressman John Murtha
t r u t h o u t Statement

Thursday 17 November 2005

The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We can not continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action in Iraq is not in the best interest of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.

General Casey said in a September 2005 Hearing, "the perception of occupation in Iraq is a major driving force behind the insurgency." General Abizaid said on the same date, "Reducing the size and visibility of the coalition forces in Iraq is a part of our counterinsurgency strategy."

For 2 1/2 years I have been concerned about the US policy and the plan in Iraq. I have addressed my concerns with the Administration and the Pentagon and have spoken out in public about my concerns. The main reason for going to war has been discredited. A few days before the start of the war I was in Kuwait - the military drew a red line around Baghdad and said when US forces cross that line they will be attacked by the Iraqis with Weapons of Mass Destruction - but the US forces said they were prepared. They had well trained forces with the appropriate protective gear.

We spend more money on Intelligence than all the countries in the world together, and more on Intelligence than most countries GDP. But the intelligence concerning Iraq was wrong. It is not a world intelligence failure. It is a US intelligence failure and the way that intelligence was misused.

I have been visiting our wounded troops at Bethesda and Walter Reed hospitals almost every week since the beginning of the War. And what demoralizes them is going to war with not enough troops and equipment to make the transition to peace; the devastation caused by IEDs; being deployed to Iraq when their homes have been ravaged by hurricanes; being on their second or third deployment and leaving their families behind without a network of support.

The threat posed by terrorism is real, but we have other threats that cannot be ignored. We must be prepared to face all threats. The future of our military is at risk. Our military and their families are stretched thin. Many say that the Army is broken. Some of our troops are on their third deployment. Recruitment is down, even as our military has lowered its standards. Defense budgets are being cut. Personnel costs are skyrocketing, particularly in health care. Choices will have to be made. We can not allow promises we have made to our military families in terms of service benefits, in terms of their health care, to be negotiated away. Procurement programs that ensure our military dominance cannot be negotiated away. We must be prepared. The war in Iraq has caused huge shortfalls at our bases in the US

Much of our ground equipment is worn out and in need of either serious overhaul or replacement. George Washington said, "To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace." We must rebuild our Army. Our deficit is growing out of control. The Director of the Congressional Budget Office recently admitted to being "terrified" about the budget deficit in the coming decades. This is the first prolonged war we have fought with three years of tax cuts, without full mobilization of American industry and without a draft. The burden of this war has not been shared equally; the military and their families are shouldering this burden.

Our military has been fighting a war in Iraq for over two and a half years. Our military has accomplished its mission and done its duty. Our military captured Saddam Hussein, and captured or killed his closest associates. But the war continues to intensify. Deaths and injuries are growing, with over 2,079 confirmed American deaths. Over 15,500 have been seriously injured and it is estimated that over 50,000 will suffer from battle fatigue. There have been reports of at least 30,000 Iraqi civilian deaths.

I just recently visited Anbar Province Iraq in order to assess the conditions on the ground. Last May 2005, as part of the Emergency Supplemental Spending Bill, the House included the Moran Amendment, which was accepted in Conference, and which required the Secretary of Defense to submit quarterly reports to Congress in order to more accurately measure stability and security in Iraq. We have now received two reports. I am disturbed by the findings in key indicator areas. Oil production and energy production are below pre-war levels. Our reconstruction efforts have been crippled by the security situation. Only $9 billion of the $18 billion appropriated for reconstruction has been spent. Unemployment remains at about 60 percent. Clean water is scarce. Only $500 million of the $2.2 billion appropriated for water projects has been spent. And most importantly, insurgent incidents have increased from about 150 per week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over time and with the addition of more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revelations at Abu Ghraib, American casualties have doubled. An annual State Department report in 2004 indicated a sharp increase in global terrorism.

I said over a year ago, and now the military and the Administration agrees, Iraq can not be won "militarily." I said two years ago, the key to progress in Iraq is to Iraqitize, Internationalize and Energize. I believe the same today. But I have concluded that the presence of US troops in Iraq is impeding this progress.

Our troops have become the primary target of the insurgency. They are united against US forces and we have become a catalyst for violence. US troops are the common enemy of the Sunnis, Saddamists and foreign jihadists. I believe with a US troop redeployment, the Iraqi security forces will be incentivized to take control. A poll recently conducted shows that over 80% of Iraqis are strongly opposed to the presence of coalition troops, and about 45% of the Iraqi population believe attacks against American troops are justified. I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis.

I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United States occupation. I believe this will send a signal to the Sunnis to join the political process for the good of a "free" Iraq.

My plan calls:

To immediately redeploy US troops consistent with the safety of US forces. To create a quick reaction force in the region. To create an over- the- horizon presence of Marines. To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq.

This war needs to be personalized. As I said before I have visited with the severely wounded of this war. They are suffering.

Because we in Congress are charged with sending our sons and daughters into battle, it is our responsibility, our OBLIGATION to speak out for them. That's why I am speaking out.

Our military has done everything that has been asked of them, the US can not accomplish anything further in Iraq militarily. IT IS TIME TO BRING THEM HOME.
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Democrats Have Proof Pre-War Intel Was Manipulated
By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t Investigative Report

Thursday 17 November 2005

Senate Democrats have dug up additional explosive evidence over the past week that they say will help prove the Bush administration deliberately manipulated pre-war Iraq intelligence that was used to convince Congress and the public to support a pre-emptive strike against the Middle East country in March of 2003.

Specifically, Carl Levin, the senior Democrat who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, is interested in permanently debunking the administration's assertion that it "mistakenly" included the 16-word reference in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address claiming that Iraq tried to purchase yellowcake uranium - the key component to building an atomic bomb - from Niger. Levin's aides said the administration knew months before that the veracity of the allegations was dubious because it was based on forged documents.

Many critics of the war cite those 16 words in the State of the Union address as the silver bullet that convinced Congress and the American public to back the war against Iraq. The Niger uranium allegations are also at the heart of a federal probe into the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, whose husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, was the envoy sent to Niger in February 2002 to investigate the uranium rumor and reported back to the CIA that there was no truth to it. The leak of Wilson's wife's identity and undercover CIA status was an attempt to muzzle Wilson, a vocal critic of the war, who had accused the Bush administration of citing the phony Niger uranium documents to dupe Congress into supporting the war.

The probe has so far resulted in a five-count criminal indictment against I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, who resigned from his position last month following the indictment for lying to prosecutors about his role in the leak.

Since Libby's indictment, the Bush administration has launched a full-scale public relations campaign to shore up Bush's sagging poll numbers. In doing so, senior officials at the White House and the National Security Council have publicly attacked Democratic critics of the war, as well as the bipartisan investigation into pre-war intelligence, claiming Democrats saw the exact same intelligence as those in the White House and voted in favor of military action.

On Wednesday, Cheney called critics of the war "dishonest" and "reprehensible" and said Democrats accusing the Bush administration of manipulating intelligence were "opportunists."

But aides to Sen. Levin rebutted that, saying they have smoking-gun proof that they were lied to by Bush and Cheney about not only the existence of weapons of mass destruction but also claims that Iraq had tried to obtain yellowcake uranium from Niger.

In building their case against the administration, Levin, with the help of Congressman Henry Waxman, D-Calif., has obtained the December 2002 letter sent to the White House and the National Security Council by Mohammed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, warning that the Niger claims were bogus and should not be cited by the administration as evidence that Iraq was actively trying to obtain WMDs.

Waxman had written ElBaradei in March 2003, inquiring about the Niger documents and the allegations that Iraq tried to purchase uranium there in order to determine if the Bush administration manipulated the intelligence it had relied upon. Waxman received a three-page response from ElBaradei on June 20, 2003, around the same time that Joseph Wilson had started to publicly question the Bush administration's rationale for war and around the same time White House officials had disclosed his wife's CIA status to a handful of reporters. Baradei's response letter lays out in full detail the play-by-play in his attempt to get to the bottom of the Niger uranium story.

ElBaradei said, when the Niger claims were included in the State Department fact sheet on the Iraqi threat in December 2002, "the IAEA asked the U.S. Government, through its Mission in Vienna, to provide any actionable information that would allow it to follow up with the countries involved, viz Niger and Iraq." ElBaradei said he was assured that his letter was forwarded to the White House and to the National Security Council. ElBaradei added that he and his staff were suspicious about the Niger documents because it had long been rumored that documents pertaining to Iraq's attempt to obtain uranium from Niger had been doctored.

The evidence that Iraq sought to purchase uranium from an African country was first revealed by the British government on September 24, 2002, when Prime Minister Tony Blair released a 50-page report on Iraqi efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. This report ultimately became a significant part of the US case against Iraq.

ElBaradei had said he repeatedly requested copies of the Niger documents prior to Bush's State of the Union address but never received anything. When he finally did receive the documents - six weeks later - on February 4, 2003, a week after Bush's State of the Union address, his suspicions turned out to be on the money. He was the person who first revealed that the Niger documents cited by the Bush administration to win support for the war were crude forgeries.

ElBaradei told Waxman that the White House had turned over the Niger material "without qualification" and provided no specific comments on whether US intelligence considered the documents to be authentic.

In conversations and correspondence with Waxman, ElBaradei said he personally had tried to contact Stephen Hadley, then Deputy National Security Adviser, and aides to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, warning them not to rely on the Niger documents as evidence of the Iraqi threat, but was continuously rebuffed. He said the White House officials pledged to cooperate with United Nations inspectors but repeatedly withheld evidence from them.

Cheney did the rounds on the cable news outlets, and tried to discredit ElBaradei's conclusion that the documents were forged.

"I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong," Cheney said. "[The IAEA] has consistently underestimated or missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing. I don't have any reason to believe they're any more valid this time than they've been in the past."

Four months later, Hadley, as well as former CIA Director George Tenet, took responsibility for allowing the Niger uranium claims to be included in Bush's speech. Aides to Levin said that when the bipartisan investigation is complete there will be ample proof that the Bush administration, specifically, Hadley, Cheney, and other top officials, knowingly manipulated intelligence to fit their agenda in launching a war.

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