Pelosi: 'This War in Iraq Is a Grotesque Mistake; It is Not Making America Safer'

Jun 20, 2005
Press Release

Pelosi: 'This War in Iraq Is a Grotesque Mistake; It is Not Making America Safer'

Monday, June 20, 2005

Contact: Brendan Daly/Jennifer Crider, 202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. - House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke this afternoon on the House floor on her amendment to the defense appropriations bill, which for the second time in less than a week, the Republicans would not allow a vote on. Her amendment would require the President to submit a report to Congress detailing a strategy for success in Iraq that would allow U.S. troops to come home. Below are Pelosi's remarks:

"Mr. Speaker, the legislation that we are considering today contains another $45 billion for the war in Iraq that has already consumed nearly $200 billion, ended the lives of over 1,700 of our troops and thousands more Iraqis, and changed forever the lives of the tens of thousands more who have been wounded in that war.

"They were sent into the war without the intelligence about where they were going and what they were going to confront, without adequate equipment to protect them, and without a plan for what would happen after the fall of Baghdad.

"Mr. Lewis, Mr. Murtha, Mr. Young, and Mr. Obey fought hard in the Defense Appropriations Committee last year to correct the inadequacy of the equipment that the troops had.

"Many of us have visited with soldiers in Iraq, many of whom are on their second tour of duty there. I conveyed to those brave soldiers, as I have to the wounded in military hospitals in the United States and abroad, how grateful the American people are for their valor, their patriotism, and the sacrifice they are willing to make for our country. They have performed their duties with great courage and skill and we are deeply in their debt.

"Disagreement with the policies that sent our troops to Iraq, and which keeps them in danger today, in no way diminishes the respect and admiration which we have for our troops. Sadly, the level of their sacrifice has never been matched by the level of the Administration's planning, and now the American people agree this war is not making America safer.

"Republican Senator Robert Taft of Ohio had this to say about our duty in time of war: 'Criticism in a time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government.' He was a Republican and it was during World War II and what he said was right. It is in that spirit that I disagree with those in the Majority party who continue with the course of action that we are on now.

"When we went into this war, it was a war of choice, a pre-emptive war. When you have a war, you have to go in with the preparation you have. But in a war of choice, you have an increased responsibility to be prepared and to have a plan for what happens, in this case, after the fall of Baghdad. We were not prepared with such a plan.

"Vice President Cheney said at the time that our troops would be met with rose petals; instead they were met with rocket-propelled grenades. Under-Secretary of Defense Wolfowitz said that 'this is a country that can easily afford its own reconstruction and soon,' and U.S. taxpayers are still paying the tab.

"This is a war that each passing day confirms what I have said before and I will say again. This war in Iraq is a grotesque mistake; it is not making America safer, and the American people know it.

"Early on, Mr. Murtha said what a bipartisan proposal should be as far as going into Iraq. With the fall of Baghdad, we should move quickly to Iraqitize, to turn the security of Iraq over to the Iraqis. We should internationalize, we should form the diplomatic alliances in the region for the Iraqi government so that our troops could accomplish their goals militarily, with the help of diplomacy. It simply cannot be done alone.

"Mr. Murtha, leading the House Democrats on this issue said, 'We must energize. We must turn on the lights. We must have reconstruction in Iraq.' And because of the lack of planning, the reconstruction is taking much longer, is much more costly, and security is making it almost impossible. You can't go forward with the social services unless you have a secure Iraq, and you can't have it be secure and bring our troops home unless you turn over that security responsibility to the Iraqis.

"The least that Congress should do is insist that the President provide the details on how it will be determined when the responsibility for Iraq's security can be turned over to the Iraqis, and how Iraq's economic and political stability will be assessed. That is what my amendment would do if it were made an order.

"The failure by the President and his Administration to plan adequately for the conduct of the war to date has made it all the more imperative that Congress ensure that planning be done competently for bringing our troops home. If our troops are to leave when the mission has succeeded, we need to know now how success is to be defined.

"The Administration has chosen to fund this war through Supplemental appropriations measures as if the need to keep hundreds of thousands of military personnel in and near Iraq was a surprise. Our commitment in Iraq cannot be open-ended; Congress should have insisted long ago that the limits on that commitment be publicly shared and well understood.

"The Iraq money in this bill is described as a bridge fund. Congress and the American people have a right to ask: A bridge to what, a bridge to where? The report required by my amendment would have built on the report requested in the recently enacted Supplemental appropriations bill and helped answer that question. And that request was agreed to in a bipartisan way. This is really an endorsement of that, taking it from report language, putting it into law, and raising its profile so the Administration knows that it must answer those questions in the Supplemental.

"The Majority's leadership apparently prefer to keep their heads in the sand, and continue to provide money for the Iraq war with no questions asked.

"Congress did not discharge its responsibility to oversee those policies at the start of the war, and it has not done so since. The American people deserve better. More importantly our troops, who serve in harm's way, deserve better. They are owed more by those who sent them there than a lack of planning. We must do everything in our power to honor our obligation to our troops. Only then will we be fulfilling our responsibility."