Senate Democratic Leaders Call on President to Provide Plan on Iraq, Level with American People about Tough Road Ahead
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid; Senator Joe Biden, Ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee; Senator Carl Levin, Ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee; and Senator Jay Rockefeller, Vice Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, sent the following letter to President Bush today:
June 27, 2005
The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
We were pleased to learn that you will address the nation tomorrow about your Administration’s Iraq policy. Given the implications events in Iraq hold for our troops, their families, and this nation’s security, we look forward to hearing your remarks.
As you know, the informed consent of the American people is essential for your Iraq policy to succeed. Yet as you recently acknowledged, more and more Americans are raising questions about this policy. We believe your speech tomorrow represents a critical opportunity for you to rally the American people by clearly setting forth your plan for succeeding in Iraq and turning control of Iraq over to the Iraqi people.
We believe this objective can best be accomplished if your speech does the following four things:
- Provides a detailed plan for success in Iraq with clear performance benchmarks in the key areas of security, reconstruction, governance, and internationalization. By spelling out a series of specific goals in each of these areas, you will provide our troops, their families, and the American people the ability to see where we are headed and, just as importantly, the ability to assess whether we are making progress in achieving our objectives.
- Levels with the American people about the nature and intensity of the threat facing our troops and what additional sacrifices will be required to succeed in Iraq from our military and our taxpayers, the people of Iraq, and our allies. One of the reasons Americans are increasingly concerned about the course of events in Iraq is because they perceive a gap between the Administration’s upbeat assessments about the future of Iraq and the reality of what our troops are confronting on the ground today. In order to ensure that your Iraq policy enjoys the support of the American people, it is essential that you use tomorrow’s address to provide a frank and complete assessment of the challenges we face and the costs we are likely to incur in the days and months ahead.
- Declares that you will provide Congress with access to the people and information necessary to make regular Congressional oversight hearings useful. We have been engaged in Iraq for nearly 2 ½ years. Our troops and our taxpayers have sacrificed much during this period and will be asked to do much more before this war is over. As the elected representatives of the American people and a co-equal branch of government, Congress has an obligation and a right to examine our Iraq policy on a regular basis.
- Assures our troops that you are committed to providing them everything they need to complete their mission as quickly and safely as possible and are equally determined to keep this nation’s commitments to them when they return home. We continue to receive reports that our troops lack properly armored humvees and other essential equipment. Equally disturbing was the news that there is a $1 billion shortfall in funding for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and thousands of veterans returning from Iraq may be denied access to the timely, quality health care services they have earned.
As we have said, your Iraq policy is clearly at a critical juncture. We urge you to use tomorrow’s address to clearly spell out a way forward and level with our troops and the American people about the sacrifices that remain ahead. Mr. President, we want you to succeed in Iraq and we want to do everything we can to support you. Your success is America’s success. We can best achieve that by working together.
Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
John D. Rockefeller, IV