The Congressional Record – 2006-09-08 23:35:38
Senator Feinstein’s Statement
Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise today in support of a no-confidence resolution on the leadership of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.
Secretary Rumsfeld has overseen a failed strategy, policy, and military tactics for Iraq that have weakened the state of our national and homeland defense.
Despite clear evidence that our current strategy is not working, he has stubbornly stuck to a deteriorating course.
We need a new direction. “Staying the course” is not the answer and Secretary Rumsfeld has been the key proponent of this failed policy.
I first publicly called for Secretary Rumsfeld’s resignation 6 months ago, after watching 3 years of mismanagement of our war effort in Iraq.
And, since that time, I have become more convinced of the importance of changing the leadership at the top of the Department of Defense.
In truth, the Bush administration’s failed strategy and tactics in Iraq have significantly diminished the United States’ standing in the world and made waging the global war on terror more difficult.
Despite optimistic reports by Pentagon officials regarding the security situation near Baghdad over the past several weeks, it is clear that Iraq is on the edge of civil war.
For example, in recent days news agencies have reported that: 40 bodies, 25 of which had been blindfolded and executed by gunshot, were discovered in a mass grave in Baghdad — this from the New York Times.
The number of killings in and around Baghdad grew substantially last week despite an American-led security crackdown, with morgues receiving as many bodies as they had during the first three weeks of August combined — this from the Los Angeles Times.
Finally, the Iraqi parliament voted to extend a state of emergency throughout much of the country a strong indication that the security situation remains tenuous — this from the Associated Press.
Yet we are continuing down the same failed path, buttressing the Shiite-dominated government and preventing it from taking actions necessary to end the insurgency and prevent a full-scale civil war.
As a result of these failed policies under Secretary Rumsfeld’s leadership, Iraq continues to be a nation in chaos.
Yes, there is a permanent government in place. But the ministries do not function properly; terror, kidnappings, and assassinations continue on a daily basis.
Iranian influence is growing, and Shiite militias dominate the police.
Civilian killings now top 3,000 a month, and a Sunni-Shiite civil war is emerging, with U.S. forces caught in the middle.
Despite spending almost $20 billion on reconstruction efforts, our plan for Iraq reconstruction has stalled as security requirements continue to tax our resources.
Unemployment may be as high as 50 percent, many utilities are not online, and demand for subsidized gasoline — U.S. $0.55/gallon — has led to a thriving black market and corruption. Oil production has yet to meet revenue goals.
The list of failures in our war policy in Iraq is comprehensive and long:
(1) Failed strategic, logistical, and financial planning for the Iraq war
Secretary Rumsfeld ignored suggestions early on by advisers like Army Chief of Staff General Shinseki, Senators such as John McCain, and reports by well-respected think tanks such as the RAND Corporation, that many more ground troops were needed.
For questioning Rumsfeld’s plan, General Shinseki was effectively forced into early retirement.
White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey found himself out of a job after differing with Rumsfeld in suggesting that the Iraq war might cost up to $200 billion Rumsfeld initially argued that it would cost only $50 billion.
With the addition of emergency supplemental funding, the cost of the Iraq war has now reached $320 billion, with spending averaging $2 billion a week.
American troops went into combat without the proper equipment and protection. Hundreds of soldiers and marines were killed or maimed in the early stages of the war due to the lack of appropriate vehicle and body armor.
Yet in responding to these concerns, Secretary Rumsfeld famously quipped, “You go to war with the Army you have.”
(2) Failed policy of de-Baathification, including abolishing the Iraqi Army with no severance pay or pensions for soldiers
Perhaps the biggest strategic mistake made by military planners, beyond the lack of adequate troop strength, was the decision to demobilize the standing Iraqi Army, while “blacklisting” other civilian professionals who had been members of the Baathist Party.
Many of these soldiers, government officials, doctors, lawyers, and other civilian workers, with their jobs eliminated and no money to feed their families chose to join the insurgency that has now grown to an estimated 20,000 individuals.
Remarkably, Rumsfeld until only recently tried to characterize the insurgency as a group of “foreign fighters,” failing to understand the deep resentment cultivated by American policies in post-Saddam Iraq.
(3) Faulty belief that capturing Baghdad meant controlling Iraq
As related in recent firsthand accounts of the initial invasion, commanders on the ground quickly identified the threat of a guerilla war, but after GEN William Wallace, who was leading the march toward Baghdad, recommended crushing the small insurgency along the way, he was nearly forced to resign.
While U.S. forces successfully captured Baghdad within 3 weeks, this strategy allowed an insurgency to grow within the Sunni triangle and hundreds of foreign fighters to stream across Iraq’s unguarded borders.
(4) Failure to manage the chaos in the aftermath of the invasion
Some of the first signs that the U.S. lacked adequate troops were the pictures of Iraqis rioting and looting in several key cities immediately following the invasion.
Rumsfeld dismissed the chaos as a symbol of “freedom and democracy,” simply saying “stuff happens.” Sadly, it demonstrated to all Iraqis that American military resources were limited.
This shortage of U.S. troops also resulted in a failure to secure munition dumps and small arms that were stashed throughout the country.
The insurgency was able to thrive through access to these munitions and weapons caches, and many American troops have been killed or injured from bombs or RPGs that could have been secured in the initial invasion, had we had enough troops.
(5) Failure to stop abuse and torture
One of the greatest stains on America’s reputation that will come out of the war effort is our failure to properly protect the rights of those detained by our military.
While most of our men and women have served honorably, it is clear that the Pentagon allowed a culture of abuse to develop in prisons such as Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and Camp Nama.
Yet despite the clear evidence of detainee abuse, no high-level official has been held accountable for these actions.
(6) Failure to maintain military readiness
The Iraq war has taken a significant toll on the state and preparedness of our military. Our armed forces are stretched thin; our men and women in uniform overburdened.
Last month, the Marine Corps was forced to issue call-up orders for 2,500 from its Individual Ready Reserve the first time it has had to do so since the war started.
Top Army commanders have suggested that two-thirds of all Army brigades do not meet the necessary state of readiness, and National Guard chief, LTG Steven Blum, estimates that two-thirds of the National Guard cannot even be deployed today.
Equipment is fast wearing out. It is estimated that the Army and Marines will need a combined $75 billion over the next 5 years for maintenance, repair, and replacement alone.
As a result of failed policies under Secretary Rumsfeld’s leadership, we may well end up with a broken force and an Iraq held captive by civil war.
There must be a change in course and a change in those who have managed the war effort.
This is critical if we want to have any chance for success in Iraq.
Just last week, Secretary Rumsfeld employed truly shameful rhetoric by comparing those who have criticized the Iraq War with those who “appease[d]” the Nazis in the run-up to World War II.
In the speech at the American Legion conference in Salt Lake City, Rumsfeld stated:
Once again, we face similar challenges in efforts to confront the rising threat of a new type of fascism but some seem not to have learned history’s lessons.
Questioning the patriotism of those who might not support the war, he said:
The struggle we are in is too important the consequences too severe to have the luxury of returning to the “blame America first” mentality.
These baseless, partisan attacks are simply over-the-top and are being used to fill a gaping vacuum created by the lack of a successful plan for Iraq.
It is clear to me that this administration, led by the President and Secretary Rumsfeld, has been wrong at almost every turn.
Still, Secretary Rumsfeld remains in place, despite a growing number of bipartisan calls for the President to replace him.
Consequently, I believe that now is the time for the Senate to assert its oversight role and move forward with a vote of no-confidence.
Ultimately, it is true that President Bush is responsible for the failures in Iraq, but no Bush administration official was closer to the war planning than Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.
Secretary Rumsfeld was and remains the chief architect of the strategy and policy in Iraq.
Consequently, it is time for President Bush to ask for Secretary Rumsfeld’s resignation and pursue a course correction under new Pentagon leadership.
There must be accountability for the disastrous policy pursued in Iraq.
It is time to bring in a new team to run our military. Secretary Rumsfeld must step down.
Our men and women in uniform deserve better.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator’s time has expired. The Senator from California.
Senator Boxer’s Statement
Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I am going to be the last speaker. Senator Dorgan will not be using his time, so I am asking that I have 4 minutes of his time, since he has given me that.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mrs. BOXER. Thank you. That will give me a total of 10 minutes.
Mr. President, I think it is a very sad day that the Republicans are not going to allow a vote on this Democratic resolution calling for a changed course in Iraq. And their reason — I sat here and listened — is that we are only doing this because it is an election year. Well, folks, I do not know how to break this to you, but every 2 years is an election year. Are we supposed to stop working in an election year? Are we supposed to stop talking about the issues that are on the minds of the American people because they may be difficult or they may be controversial or they may have consequences for us? Are we supposed to stop doing the people’s business in an election year?
I do not know about my Republican friends, but I know Californians expect me to work every year — election year or not — every day, every week, every month. And I say to Senator McCain, elections do have consequences. He said elections have consequences. Yes. And all of us were elected, too. Is he forgetting that? Does he think the only election that matters is the election of a President? I think our Founders would be very shocked. Our job is to provide oversight. Our job is to, in fact, advise and consent on many nominations, including the top levels of this administration. So I rise in strong support of this very important amendment Senator Reid has carefully put together.
This amendment does three critically important things.
First, it is about this Congress conducting its constitutional responsibility to exercise oversight over the executive branch. It is our job, given to us by the Founders. It is our job not to be a rubberstamp Congress, not to be a compliant Congress, not to be a roll-over-and-play-dead Congress, but to challenge, to question, to push; and if things are not going well for our country — be it wages for our workers or be it education for our children or be it deficits as far as the eye can see and debt as far as the eye can see or the war in Iraq — we need to speak out. And that is what this carefully crafted amendment does.
Second, the amendment is about helping to chart a new path forward in Iraq and clearly states that we need a new direction. That is important. There are those on the other side who said this is all about Donald Rumsfeld. It is not all about Donald Rumsfeld. It talks about starting over, starting anew, getting a new strategy in place for success in Iraq.
Third, it is about calling for a new civilian leadership. As you know, in this particular version, we do not even mention Donald Rumsfeld’s name. We are basically saying it is time to change direction. Things are dangerously heading down the wrong path in Iraq.
Let’s hear what the latest Pentagon report said. My friends are quoting the Pentagon, as well they should. Let’s hear what the Pentagon itself is saying:
Concern about civil war within the Iraqi civilian population and among some defense analysts has increased in recent months. Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq.
They pointed out that the average number of weekly attacks — against coalition forces, Iraqi security forces, the civilian population, and infrastructure — increased by 15 percent since last spring. The number of weekly attacks has increased from approximately 640 to nearly 800. July saw the highest level of weekly attacks since military operations began.
In California, we have bases that are sending our troops out for their fourth tour of duty — their fourth tour of duty. So we are supposed to sit back and be compliant because it is an election year? Because it is an election year? Just talk to the parents and the families who are losing their family members, who are losing their sons and daughters, who are losing their moms and dads, who are seeing them come back with post-traumatic stress disorder, severe brain injury.
Talk to them about it. They could care less if it is an election year. They want us to change course and bring their kids home. The fact is, we could do it if the Iraqis wanted democracy and wanted freedom as much as we wanted it for them. You show me one country that survives that cannot take care of its own security.
Sectarian violence is what is going on over there. As a result of our flawed policy, we are shorting the war on terror. We are not protecting our ports. The money is going to Iraq. It is being sucked out of the Treasury, going onto the backs of our grandchildren, to the tune of over $300 billion.
And where is the money for port security? Where is the money to protect our nuclear powerplants? Where is the money to protect our infrastructure? Where is the money to protect our aircraft from shoulder-fired missiles, when we know that at least two dozen terrorist organizations have those missiles and the FBI has warned us over and over that we need to do something about it?
Oh, they have to slow-walk it because they do not have the money — except for tax cuts to billionaires. They have the money for that.
So the bottom line is, this flawed strategy is shorting the war on terror. Secretary Rumsfeld how wrong could he be? He said he doubted this war would even last even 6 months. But he cannot admit a mistake. The fact is, when we went into Iraq without a plan, we turned away from the war on terror. Every single Senator voted for the war on terror — every single Senator.
I remember writing a speech, coming to this floor, and giving strong support to this President to go get Osama bin Laden, to go break the backs of terrorists, to go break the backs of al-Qaida to do it — and I would give him everything he needed. The whole world was with us. Go back to those days.
Everyone was with us. But, oh, no, he had this thing, he was going to go into Iraq, even though his own State Department showed there was not one al-Qaida cell in Iraq. There were more al-Qaida cells in America than in Iraq. Took the money, took the energy, took the military, spread them thin, thought this war would be over in a nanosecond. And we have been misled. We have been misled.
So this is a very sensible resolution. Let me just read you the operative language:
Our troops deserve and the American people expect the Bush Administration to provide competent civilian leadership and a true strategy for success in Iraq.
President Bush needs to change course in Iraq to provide a strategy for success. One indication of a change, of course, would be to replace the current Secretary of Defense.
Mr. President, this resolution is written with respect to the President. It does not demean anybody. I believe it is very carefully drawn, and I think it speaks for the American people. If you look at the polls today, they are begging us — begging us — to change course.
And I will tell you, it has not been easy for the American people to make their feelings known because they have changed. In the beginning, they were all for this. But they have seen what has happened. We cannot close our eyes to what is happening. And then when the Secretary of Defense looks at those of us in America — a vast majority who oppose this war — and says we do not understand history and we are appeasers, that has gone just too far.
I say to the Secretary and to this President: Get with the current times.
I even heard Secretary Rice talk about how this was somehow akin to the people who did not want to fight the Civil War. Talk about drawing up analogies that do not make any sense, there is another one.
Let’s change course now. And let’s start by approving this resolution. At the minimum, I say to my friends on the Republican side, let us vote on this resolution. It is our job to speak out. It is our job to do oversight. And let the votes fall where they may. But the American people deserve this vote. I thank my leader for putting this resolution together.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Nevada.
Senator Reid’s Statement
Mr. REID. Mr. President, I will momentarily send an amendment to the desk. But my disappointment is that the majority, as they have done for years when a tough issue comes before the Senate, through technical means, is preventing Senators and preventing the Senate from expressing its will — in this instance on this resolution of no confidence.
This is unfortunate. We should have the ability to vote on this amendment.