WASHINGTON, DC – Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Assistant Democratic Leader Dick Durbin, Armed Services Ranking Democrat Carl Levin, Intelligence Vice Chairman John Rockefeller, Foreign Relations Ranking Democrat Joe Biden and Senate Armed Services Committee Member Edward Kennedy today released a letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that calls on the Defense Secretary to fix shortcomings in his next report to Congress on benchmarks for the Administration’s strategy in Iraq.
“The key questions that the American people want and deserve to know — how many Iraqi security forces are capable of fighting on their own, and what our military requirements in Iraq will be in the months ahead — were not addressed in the unclassified version of the report,” wrote the Senators in their letter to Rumsfeld.
In addition, Democrats also released a detailed report entitled, “‘Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq: Report Fails to Level With American People.” The report, which deals with the challenges that lay ahead in Iraq, is available at http://democrats.senate.gov/dpc/dpc.cfm?A=fs&B=109&C=1&D=78
A text of the letter sent to Secretary Rumsfeld is pasted below.
July 29, 2005
The Honorable Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
Washington, DC 20301-4000
Dear Secretary Rumsfeld:
We are writing regarding the report on measuring stability and security in Iraq provided last week by the Department of Defense, as required by the Conference Report accompanying H.R. 1268, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, Public Law 109-13 (May 11, 2005).
It’s been over two years since the fall of Baghdad, and a reliable assessment of the progress we’re making in the training of Iraqi security forces is long over-due. The Department’s report indicates that large numbers of Iraqis have received training, but unfortunately, the key questions that the American people want and deserve to know – how many Iraqi security forces are capable of fighting on their own, and what our military requirements in Iraq will be in the months ahead – were not addressed in the unclassified version of the report.
It may be reasonable to withhold information as to specific weaknesses or limitations of specific Iraqi units, but the Administration needs to find a way to provide the American people with realistic assessments of the capability of Iraqi security forces. In his response to a question for the record in connection with his nomination to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Pace provided more unclassified information on this issue in one paragraph than is provided in this entire report.
No foreign policy is sustainable without the support of the American people. The American people deserve to know the facts about our policy. They want to know how long it will take to fully train the Iraqis and when our military mission will be completed. They can deal with the truth, and they deserve it.
No one wants to do anything that would help the insurgents. But the Administration must do a better job of responding to the legitimate concerns of the American people.
We urge you to find a way to answer these questions.
John D. Rockefeller
Edward M. Kennedy