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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

George Bush's artificial timetables in Iraq

On September 8th, 2003, in the face of a burgeoning Iraqi insurgency and news reports making clear that neither David Kay, nor any further official investigation would ever turn up the weapons of mass destruction upon which the White House had staked its entire case for preemptive war against Iraq, President George W. Bush addressed the nation on live television.

With his September 8th speech, the President asked the nation for more money, more time, and for our forbearance as he unilaterally changed the rationale for the United States' occupation of Iraq. According to the President, our new mission...the establishment of "freedom and democracy" in Iraq...was to replace the previous task of eliminating the "grave and growing danger" of weapons of mass destruction which, six months into our occupation of Iraq, had simply proven nowhere to be found.

September 8th, 2003 was 3 years 7 months and 3 days ago.


Writ another way, it has been 1,311 days since George W. Bush went before the nation on September 8th, 2003 to ask for more money, more time and more patience in Iraq.

Over the course of those 1,311 days, along with many tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens, over 2900 American soldiers have lost their lives in the U.S. occupation. Many more have suffered life-shattering wounds and injuries. There is nothing "artificial" about any of this.

Further, in those 1,311 days, our nation has also learned, contrary to the President's predictions three and one half years ago, that the establishment of "freedom and democracy" in Iraq by force of U.S. arms has been nothing more than a fools errand and a sham.

In those 1,311 days, American citizens have had time to think long and and hard about U.S. policy in Iraq. A majority of thoughtful and considered citizens around this nation have come to a common conclusion: George Bush's war in Iraq has been an abject failure founded on a skein of lies.

Today, however, 1,311 days after he asked for and received $87 Billion for his war in Iraq, President Bush is asking for our patience, our money, and our forbearance once again. The President, as Commander in Chief...rejecting the advice of the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton commission...has called forth more troops to execute his "surge" in Iraq. In the face of his military failure on the ground in Iraq, this President is unbowed. In fact, George Bush just now made this "offer" to Congressional leadership regarding further funding of the war in Iraq:

We can discuss the way forward on a bill that is a clean bill, a bill that funds our troops without artificial timetables for withdrawal and without handcuffing our generals on the ground.

Now, as the President negotiates with the representatives of the U.S. people...the United States Congress...over what the course of U.S. action in Iraq should be, we citizens should revisit this President's words form September 8th, 2003:

Everywhere that freedom takes hold, terror will retreat.

Our enemies understand this. They know that a free Iraq will be free of them -- free of assassins, and torturers, and secret police. They know that as democracy rises in Iraq, all of their hateful ambitions will fall like the statues of the former dictator. And that is why, five months after we liberated Iraq, a collection of killers is desperately trying to undermine Iraq's progress and throw the country into chaos.

* President Bush, with all due respect, where is the freedom in Iraq?
* President Bush, has terror retreated one inch in the 1,311 days since you went before the nation and predicted it would do so?
* President Bush, is Iraq today free of assasins and torturers and secret police?
* President Bush, how is Iraq today not in the throes of a grave and growing chaos more profound than what it faced in September of 2003?
* Mr. President, your nation wants to know, how many more Iraqis and Americans have to die in this war of choice in Iraq?

Now, the President speaks of "artificial timetables" and "handcuffing generals." Attentive citizens can recognize those words in their rhetoric and tone. It is not hard to see the handiwork of Vice President Cheney in those phrases. Dick Cheney is a master at the art of bullying the public and the press. His conduct in spreading misinformation to the public about the war in Iraq is as well documented as it is despicable. Historians will not look kindly on this Vice President and a press that let him get away with innumerable lies great and small.

I have some questions in that regard for the major news media:

* How long will the American media stand idly by while this President and Vice President bully the Congress and the American people over their failed war in Iraq?
* How many lies from this White House are too many?
* When will reporters and journalists and news anchors finally stand up and say, "enough is enough" to Dick Cheney, George W. Bush and the big corporations they represent?

People ask me for a yardstick for knowing when the tide will have turned in regards to U.S. policy in Iraq. I tell them this: we will know the war in Iraq is over when someone at Time Magazine or Newsweek has the guts to run a cover story with the title: "Withdrawal from Iraq: Here's how it will work." When we see a graphic of Iraq with big arrows and those arrows are pointing south from Baghdad, we'll know it's over. But we haven't read those stories in the last 1,311 days because no one in the United States mainstream media has the guts to stand up to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

For that to happen, for the tide to turn, in my view, the American public needs to stand up, right now, and in no uncertain terms demand that Congress defeat this one phrase: "artificial timetables." And, in that light, I have one message for every elected Democrat and sympathetic Republican, in the United States Congress.


Dear Congresspersons and Senators:

We did our part, now it's time for you to do yours.

We've had enough of George Bush's lies and bullying over Iraq.

If 1,311 days weren't enough for George Bush to create freedom and democracy in Iraq, how many will be?

If 3292 American lives lost in Iraq aren't too much, how many will be? 5,000? 10,000? 58,226?

The President is calling your demand for a change of course leading to a withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq in 2008 an "artificial timetable" that "handcuffs" our generals. The American people voted the 110th Congress into office, however, to make that very demand.

We citizens must ask: what is more important in American politics...the will of the people expressed in an election or the intransigience of one president regarding a failed policy he has pursued for years with little or no oversight and accountability?

If the United States Congress caves to this President, if you allow the demand for withdrawal from Iraq to be characterzied as an "artifical timetable" when will U.S. combat forces ever leave Iraq? 2009? 2010? 2025? What date won't be "artificial" if you let George Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove set the terms of the debate?

Simply put, how many more elections expressing the clear desire of American voters for an end to this war and a check on the President's power do we need to have?

For too many years, we citizens have watched as our elected leaders have checked plain language, honesty and political courage at the doors of the United States Capitol. We're sick of it. We're sick of the price we've had to pay in lives and in lies. We're sick of what this culture of cowardice has done to our great democracy. We're sick of a mainstream media that instead of asking the hard questions, has instead read fabrications off a sheet handed to them by Karl Rove.

Enough is enough. We had an election in 2006 and gave Congress a job to do. We did our job, it's time for our Congress to do theirs and stand up to this President.


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