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"My Speech on Iraq to Congress," by John Hall

February 15, 2007

Crotonblog: Letters to the Editor, Croton-on-Hudson, New York 10520
Yesterday, I made this statement on the floor of the House, and I wanted to share it with you, my supporters and constituents:

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker

Indeed, as my colleague from across the aisle says, there are many of us, citizens and Members of this House, who do not believe our Commander in Chief, and we have good reason not to believe him. I wish it were not so.

After President Bush announced his escalation of the war, I said that he owed the American people an honest explanation as to why he thinks this surge will succeed when previous efforts have failed. Unfortunately, the President decided to stay the course and to begin the escalation before either House of Congress had a chance to consider it. Instead of providing a new comprehensive strategy to turn the tide in Iraq, President Bush offered the same tired rhetoric. Rather than engage in an important discussion with the American people, his loyalists prevented the Senate from debating this crucial matter.

Fortunately for us, such obstruction will not occur in this Chamber, and the House will begin to take up this important debate this week. As a new Member of the House, I feel it is my responsibility to ask serious questions of our President who refuses to take this institution seriously. I ask my colleagues to join with me, to not try to score cheap political points but to push this administration and its supporters in Congress for real change in the direction of our Iraq policy. Our men and women in uniform, who have done everything that has been asked of them, deserve no less.

So I ask the President why this Congress should support his proposal to send 20,000 more troops into harm’s way when his own former Iraq commander, General Abizaid, said it is not needed? Why should we support it when the Prime Minister of Iraq has himself expressed no support? And why should we support it when the American people have shown that they actively oppose the President’s policy towards Iraq?

From the very outset, this administration has been wrong at every step of this war.

The administration led us into an unnecessary war with flawed or manipulated intelligence. Wrong.

This administration went to war without enough troops to win the peace. Wrong.

This administration gave no-bid contracts to its friends and political allies, locking out other countries who might have helped us and indeed locking out the Iraqis. Wrong.

President Bush stood on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003 and said, “Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.” Wrong.

This administration literally took piles of cash, flying pallets of millions of dollars from the U.S. mint to Baghdad, into a war zone, and lost billions of dollars of taxpayer money. Wrong.

Now this administration wants us to blindly place our faith and the lives of 20,000 more of our troops in an Iraqi government that has failed to meet every security obligation it has pledged. Sadly, once again, this President is wrong. And no amount of presidential wrongs is going to make the situation in Iraq right.

Last fall’s National Intelligence Estimate concluded that the President’s policy in Iraq is creating more terrorists than it is eliminating. Nothing in this policy will change that. Three thousand one hundred twenty-four American service men’s and women’s lives have been lost in Iraq as of yesterday. Three thousand one hundred twenty-five will not make it right.

It is time for a new strategy in Iraq. It is time to start to bring our brave men and women who have fought so courageously back home. By turning Iraq over to the Iraqis, we will force their government to fight for their own security. Al Qaeda in Iraq will lose their mission and be less likely to inflame the Sunni-Shiite conflict. And Iran and Syria will have to work for calm rather than sit in the shadows and stir the insurgency.

Mr. President, it is time for a new path for the United States and Iraq. This non-binding resolution reflects the will of the American people. It is an important first step but only a first step. I look forward to working with my colleagues as we seek to untangle this disaster the administration has brought upon us all. Together, we can begin to repeal this tragic blunder and undo the damage done to our military, to our country, and to our standing in the world.”

Sincerely,

United States Representative John Hall, The 19th District of New York



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