Senate Democrats

Reid Statement on Iraq

Continued Deception From the Administration About Iraq

WASHINGTON, DC – When the Secretary of State was asked this morning on Meet the Press about the American public’s huge anxieties about the war in Iraq, she once again rolled out a familiar Administration tactic of linking the war in Iraq to September 11th. Senator Harry Reid released the following statement on the Secretary’s misleading comments:

“The Secretary continues to peddle a now all too familiar and disingenuous White House tag line: we attacked Iraq because of September 11th. She and the President need to stop rewriting history, and focus on the challenges we face in Baghdad and throughout the Sunni triangle. Our troops and the Iraqi people face an increasingly dangerous insurgency. Attacks and casualties continue to mount. I hope the Secretary of State and other Administration officials will stop trying to rewrite the facts and finally begin to speak honestly with the American people and our troops. After 2 1/2 years of struggle and sacrifice, they deserve to hear the truth.”

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The full exchange with the Secretary of State appears below:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me share with you some attitudes of Americans towards the war in Iraq, and here’s our latest Wall Street Journal-NBC poll: 51 percent say removing Saddam Hussein was not worth it; 58 percent said we should reduce the number of U.S. troops; 56 percent feel less confident the war will be successful. Majorities now raising huge anxieties, expressing huge anxieties over the war in Iraq.

SECRETARY RICE: I’m quite certain, Tim, that when the American people see every day what they see on their screens, which is violence and, of course, the deaths of Americans and coalition forces, it’s very difficult to take. We mourn every sacrifice. But the fact of the matter is that when we were attacked on September 11, we had a choice to make. We could decide that the proximate cause was al-Qaeda and the people who flew those planes into buildings and, therefore, we would go after al-Qaeda and perhaps after the Taliban and then our work would be done and we would try to defend ourselves.

Or we could take a bolder approach, which was to say that we had to go after the root causes of the kind of terrorism that was produced there, and that meant a different kind of Middle East. And there is no one who could have imagined a different kind of Middle East with Saddam Hussein still in power. I know it’s difficult, but we have ahead of us the prospect, and I think the very good prospect of a foundation for a democratic and prosperous Iraq that can solve its differences by politics and compromise, that becomes an anchor for a Middle East that is changing.

If you look at Lebanon and you look at the Palestinian territories and you look at what is going on in Egypt, this is a Middle East that is in transformation to something far better than we have experienced for the last 60 years when we thought that we could ignore democracy and get stability and, in fact, we got neither. So yes, it’s long, and yes, it’s hard, but if we quit now, we are not only going to condemn generations of people of the Middle East to despair, we are going to condemn generations of Americans to continued fear and insecurity.

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