Senate Democrats

REID: BUSH FAILED TO LAY OUT A COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY TO WIN THE WAR ON TERROR

Washington, DC - Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement today on the president’s failure to lay out a comprehensive strategy to win the war on terror:

“As is too often the case with this president, the rhetoric does not match the reality. The fact is this White House has committed a series of national security mistakes that have made America less secure. While the Administration likes to boast that it is advancing bold post-9/11 policies, the only bold thing about this Administration’s actions is its ability to repeatedly ignore the facts and gloss over their mistakes.

“All Americans want the President to succeed in his efforts to defend this nation, but the President’s record on national security suggests that he has been single-mindedly bogged down on Iraq, while the war on terror languishes. Just today, he missed another opportunity to explain why his Administration has failed to develop a comprehensive strategy to win the war on terrorism and address the current threats confronting our nation.

“Democrats stand ready to work with President Bush to do whatever it takes to fight the terrorists and keep Americans safe. But to accomplish this most important goal, we need the commander in chief to rally the country around this task and to finally show he’s really committed to policies that will keep Americans safe.”

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THE BUSH ADMINSTRATION’S NATIONAL SECURITY POLICIES HAVE MADE AMERICA LESS SECURE:

Failed to Protect Americans from Terrorism and Make the Homeland Secure:

Bush Received Failing Grades for his Efforts to Improve Homeland Security. The 9/11 Public Discourse Project (formerly the 9/11 Commission) has given the administration failing grades on its efforts to improve homeland security. Thomas H. Kean, former chair of the 9/11 Commission, said that homeland security is “not a priority for the government right now.” [9/11 Public Discourse Project, 12/05]

Katrina Showed We are Still not Prepared. The administration’s Katrina response exposed massive gaps in the federal government’s emergency response capabilities. Despite the fact that the Bush Administration was warned in advance both about the impact a major storm like Katrina would have on New Orleans and that such a storm was indeed headed toward the Gulf Coast, the Administration was caught flat-footed. Now, the White House refuses to fully cooperate with the Congressional investigation into the federal government’s response, even as further evidence materializes showing that that the White House had significant advance warning about the risk to the New Orleans levee system. [Statement of Senator Lieberman, Homeland Security Committee, 1/24/06]

Mass Transit Security Neglected. Despite terrorist attacks to the mass transit systems of London and Madrid, the Bush Administration has spent only $500 million on protecting our mass transit systems since 9/11, a sum we spend in Iraq every three days. [Stephen Flynn, Meet the Press, 7/10/05]

First Responders Underfunded and Unable to Communicate. Men and women on the front lines still don’t have interoperable communications equipment or sufficient spectrum for their radios that would allow them to communicate. In addition, although the National Guard is already over-stretched and plays a pivotal role in homeland civil defense as well as combat operations overseas, President Bush is inexplicably proposing to cut 25,000 troops from the National Guard. [GAO Report, 9/04; Baltimore Sun, 1/27/06]

Critical Infrastructures Unprotected. Chemical facilities, nuclear power plants, and ports remain unprotected. Cargo and containers entering the United States are still not sufficiently screened despite repeated Administration promises and programs to address the problem. [Port Security is Still a House of Cards, Stephen Flynn, January 2006]

Failed to Keep his Commitment to Our Soldiers and Veterans

Failed to Protect Our Soldiers. Despite the fact that we have been at war in Iraq for nearly three years, thousands of Army and Marine Corps personnel still do not have adequate body armor or sufficient armor for their military transport vehicles. Our soldiers and their families have paid a price for the Administration’s lack of preparedness. A Pentagon study suggests 80% of Marine fatalities caused by bullet wounds to the torso were likely preventable. [New York Times, 1/6/06]

Army Stretched Too Thin. Another cost of the Bush Administration’s failure to plan properly for the war in Iraq has been the fact that the Army has been stretched by frequent troop rotations. A recent report prepared for the Pentagon concluded that the Army has become a “thin green line” that could snap unless relief comes soon. [Report by Andrew Krepenevich, Thin Green Line, 1/06]

Bush Failed to Plan for Post-War Iraq. This Administration has broken faith with the men and women of the military by failing to plan for post-war Iraq, by failing to go into Iraq with sufficient troops, and by failing to provide best equipment needed to complete the mission. As a result, the Army and Marine Corps are facing a recruiting crisis and estimates suggest the Army will need an additional $50 billion to replace equipment destroyed in the war or pushed beyond its service life. [The U.S. Military: Under Strain and At Risk, 1/06]

Shortchanged our Veterans. The Bush Administration has failed to put adequate resources into the VA health care system, with some estimates suggesting it has been under-funded by $5 billion. [News Tribune, 6/29/05]

Bush Failed to Account for Returning Veterans. Their management of the VA has been sub-standard. The Bush team sent hundreds of thousands of Americans to war but then failed to anticipate that they would need medical care when they came back home. According to the Bush Administration’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs, his department failed to budget for some 75,000 new veterans entering the VA medical system. [Testimony of Secretary of Veterans Affairs before Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, 6/28/05]

Veterans Facing Higher Fees. As a result of Bush Administration proposals, those who use the VA health care system are facing substantially higher co-payments, annual user fees and waiting times. [The Independent Budget, Critical Issues Report for Fiscal Year 2007; Veterans Institute for Security and Democracy, Review of Veterans Funding, 11/30/05]

Mismanaging the War in Iraq:

Iraq is in a Low Grade Civil War with Deadly Attacks. Iraq is entering into the third year of what some are calling a low grade civil war, and it risks becoming what it was not before the war: a haven and launching pad for international terrorism. Weekly attacks, the lethality of attacks and the attacks on infrastructure have all increased considerably over the past year [Testimony of Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, 2/16/05; Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq, Department of Defense, 10/05]

Billions Have Been Wasted in Iraq. Billions in U.S. taxpayer funds appropriated for the reconstruction of Iraq are either unaccounted for or have been misspent. As a result, the reconstruction program has failed to accomplish much of what the Administration promised the American taxpayer and the people of Iraq. [Report of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, 10/05]

The Cost of the War is Enormous. The direct cost of the Iraq war on U.S. taxpayers is more than $250 billion and estimates indicate ongoing operations are costing roughly $2 billion per week. And this does not include the $50 billion in the President’s fiscal year 2007 budget and the anticipated $70 billion in supplemental funding for Iraq and Afghanistan this year. Nobel Laureate economists have estimated the direct and indirect costs to our country and our economy at $2 trillion. [The Economic Costs of the Iraq War, Blimes and Stiglitz, 1/06]

Taking his Eye off of the War on Terror:

Bin Laden is Still on the Loose and Terrorist Incidents are on the Rise. Osama Bin Laden and numerous other key leaders of Al Qaeda are still on the loose. Although some of Al Qaeda’s leaders have been brought to justice, intelligence reports indicate they have been replaced and Al Qaeda continues to threaten attacks on America. The number of terrorist incidents across the world has increased sharply over the past four years while anti-Americanism in many parts of the world is at an all-time high. [Washington Post, 1/20/06; NCTC Statistics on Significant International Terrorism, 4/05; Pew Global Attitudes Project, 6/26/05]

Recent Elections Show Increased Instability Around the World. The recent Palestinian election that brought to power Hamas, a political party that has not renounced terror, demonstrates that sections of the Middle East seem headed in a more radical direction. In our own hemisphere, South and Central America have been ignored by the Administration. A wave of anti-American populism is sweeping the region, creating instability and giving strength to anti-Democratic movements. [Washington Post, 1/28/06; Daily Telegraph, 1/5/06]

Bush Torture Policy Puts Our Troops At Risk. The Bush Administration’s decision to give torture of detainees a green light has put our troops and security interests at risk. [Office of Legal Counsel, 8/1/02; Alberto Gonzales Memorandum to the President, 1/25/02]

Bush Administration Conducts Warrantless Wiretapping of Americans. The Administration’s decision to conduct warrantless wiretaps of U.S. citizens has been badly handled. The Administration has circumvented the law and Congress has not been adequately informed. As a result, the American people are badly divided on this issue and the Administration’s unconstitutional overreach has made us less safe. [CRS Reports, 1/18/06 and 1/5/06; Letter to the Congress from 14 Constitutional Scholars, 1/9/06]

Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferate on Bush’s Watch:

Bush Invaded the One “Axis of Evil” Country without WMD. Four years ago, the President called Iraq, Iran, and North Korea an “axis of evil” requiring preemptive action to eliminate the threat of nuclear “mushroom clouds” over American cities. But four years, 2,300 American lives, and more than $250 billion dollars later, we have found that Iraq had no nuclear weapons and no established links with Al Qaeda. [Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD, 9/30/04]

Iran Now Appears Committed to Developing Nuclear Weapons. Iran – a country that leads the world in its state sponsorship of terror – appears committed to developing nuclear weapons. But the Bush Administration’s inability to reach a consensus on how to deal with Iran led to a decision to outsource all matters pertaining to Iran to the Europeans. Iran’s President has threatened the United States and Israel. Nuclear weapons in the hands of an extremist President and Iran’s mullahs could have devastating consequences for our security and the security of our allies in the region and around the world. [Washington Post, 1/30/06]

North Korea Nuclear Arsenal Greatly Expanded. North Korea, under this Administration’s watch, has gone from having perhaps one or two nuclear weapons to having enough plutonium for perhaps more than a dozen nuclear weapons – a 400% increase. And every day that passes, North Korea can pump out more plutonium for more nuclear weapons. Again the inability of the Bush Administration to reach an internal consensus has produced gridlock and no policy for dealing with the dangerous developments in North Korea. The six party talks have been stalled for far too long, and the Administration has done little but wait for China or Japan to bail us out of our troubles. [No Good Choices – the Implication of a Nuclear North Korea, Congressional testimony of Jon Wolfsthal, 2/17/05]

Dangerous Materials are More Available to Terrorists. Non-state proliferators continue to be problematic due to the failure to fully investigate the AQ Khan network and to fully fund and support Nunn/Lugar measures to secure or eliminate loose nukes, materials and nuclear scientists across the world. [Securing the Bomb 2005, Nuclear Threat Initiative]

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