Washington, DC — Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid today delivered the following Floor remarks to mark the third anniversary of President Bush declaring “mission accomplished” in Iraq. Since the president declared victory on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln, more than 2200 of America’s finest men and women have been killed in Iraq.
The text of Senator Reid’s remarks, as prepared, is below.
Floor Remarks of Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid
Monday, May 1, 2006
Joshua T. Byers of Sparks, Nevada.
25 years old.
Killed in Iraq July 23, 2003, when his convoy hit an explosive device.
William I. Salazar of Las Vegas.
26 years old.
Killed in Iraq October 15, 2004, in enemy action.
John Lukac of Las Vegas.
19 years old.
Killed in Iraq October 30, 2004, by a car bomb explosion.
Nicholas H. Anderson of Las Vegas.
19 years old.
Died in Iraq November 12, 2004, during the assault on Fallujah.
Daniel F. Guastaferro of Las Vegas.
27 years old.
Died in Iraq January 7, 2005, in a motor vehicle accident.
Richard A. Perez Jr. of Las Vegas.
19 years old.
Died in Iraq February 10, 2005, in a vehicle accident.
Eric W. Morris of Sparks.
31 years old.
Killed in Iraq April 28, 2005, by a roadside bomb exploded.
Stanley J. Lapinski of Las Vegas.
35 years old.
Killed in Iraq June 11, 2005, by a makeshift bomb in Baghdad.
Jesse Jaime of Henderson.
22 years old.
Killed in Iraq June 15, 2005, by a roadside bomb.
Anthony S. Cometa of Las Vegas.
21 years old.
Killed in Iraq in Kuwait on June 16, 2005, in a Humvee accident.
James Cathey of Reno.
24 years old.
Killed in Iraq August 21, 2005, by a makeshift bomb.
Joseph Martinez of Las Vegas.
21 years old.
Killed in Iraq August 27, 2005, by enemy forces.
Thomas C. Siekert of Lovelock.
20 years old.
Died in Iraq December 6, 2005, from non-combat related injuries.
Joshua M. Morberg of Sparks.
20 years old.
Killed in Iraq December 27, 2005, by a makeshift bomb in Baghdad.
Gordon F. Misner II from Sparks.
23 years old.
Killed in Iraq February 22, 2006, by a makeshift bomb.
Shawn Thomas Lasswell, Jr of Reno.
21 years old.
Killed on April 23, 2006, by an IED.
Mr. President, these are the names of the 16 Nevadans who have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom since May 1, 2003. I never met these men, but they are heroes.
A past president once said “older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die. And it is youth who must inherit the tribulation, the sorrow and the triumphs that are the aftermath of war.”
Many years and many wars later, this quote still rings true.
These 16 young Nevadans gave their lives for us–for our country. These boys–these young men left families and oft-times their babies and children as they traveled across the ocean and seas to soldier in deserts and cities far from home.
Most were living their childhood dreams of serving in the military of our country. Others were using the military as a stepping-stone in life. Whatever the reason for their joining this volunteer fighting force, we can never repay their sacrifice, but we will always remember their ultimate service.
To their families, to the families of all 2,404 U.S. troops who have fallen in Iraq, and to the thousands of families who have loved ones serving there now, our thoughts and prayers are with you. I know you are proud of your sons and daughters, and I am confident our nation’s people are also proud of them. Their exemplary patriotism, dedication and competence speaks volumes.
Mr. President, I mention our troops and these fallen Nevadans for a reason.
Today, our country marks an unfortunate anniversary–the three year anniversary of President Bush donning a flight suit to declare “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq.
President Bush’s dramatic landing on the aircraft carrier the Abraham Lincoln will be marked historically as a public relations stunt gone horribly wrong.
Since President Bush rendered his judgment of “mission accomplished,” more than 2,200 Americans have lost their lives, about 20,000 have been wounded, many hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars have been expended, and now, Iraq is engaged in a civil war–the degree of which is unknown.
The image of President Bush standing in front of the “Mission Accomplished” banner has been etched into the minds of the American people as a metaphor for the Bush White House’s misleading and dangerous incompetence. It shows a self-described “war President” not ready for the war, or the difficult problems of securing the peace–problems the president and his Secretary of Defense simply ignored or did not understand following the invasion of Iraq.
On this day three years ago, President Bush announced that “major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”
Three years later, with fighting and violence continuing across Iraq, we know that declaration was woefully premature. In fact, the President and his team’s mismanagement and poor planning have now stretched the Iraq War to a length and monetary cost that nearly match those of World War II.
On that day, three years ago, President Bush also said “a special word for Secretary Rumsfeld…that America is grateful for a job well done.”
Three years later, the debate is not whether Rumsfeld has carried out a “job well-done,” but whether he’s even the man for the job. Eight retired generals and millions of Americans have called for him to be replaced as Secretary of Defense.
We know that Secretary Rumsfeld ignored the advice of the uniformed military and went into battle with too few troops and no plan to win the peace. As a result, the insurgency was able to gain a foothold and now civil and sectarian strife threatens our troops and the future of Iraq.
And Friday, we learned four-star general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell told the president and Secretary Rumsfeld that the number of troops for the invasion was inadequate.
Returning to the picture behind me, President Bush also said on that day that in Iraq “we’ve removed an ally of al Qaeda…”, and that “we have seen the turning of the tide” in the war on terror.
The troops prevailed, yes. But provisions for peace were never made.
On April 17th of this year, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said “the implication that there was something wrong with the war plan is amusing almost.”
Amusing. Really Mr. Secretary?
How unfortunate. A failed plan. With failed, manipulated intelligence to take us to war.
Three years later, the intractable war in Iraq and the War on Terror rage on like never before. April was the deadliest month for Americans in Iraq this year. Over 70 of our brave soldiers were killed.
And the War on Terror? It has also moved in the wrong direction.
According to the State Department, the number of terrorist attacks has risen sharply around the world. More than 11,000 terrorist attacks occurred worldwide last year–a 250 percent increase from the year before. And Iraq–a country where Osama bin Laden had few in-roads before the war–has become a training ground and launching pad for international terrorism. According to the State Department, it is now a “foreign fighter pipeline” to terror.
While the security situation in Iraq has worsened, U.S. taxpayers have been asked to shoulder an even bigger burden.
We are now spending over $10 billion dollars a month for operations in Iraq, over 100 percent monthly increase from when the war began. After passage of the supplemental, our commitment to Iraq will stand at well over $300 billion, and it is moving higher, faster and faster and faster.
Mr. President, Americans have come to accept that much of what President Bush said three years ago was incorrect. And they understand that President Bush’s refusal to level with them over the last three years has made the mission of keeping America safe more difficult.
But three years later, Americans are still counting on him to accomplish the mission. This is not a matter for future Presidents. This is President Bush’s war, and we need to hear him explain how will complete the mission he prematurely declared “accomplished.”
In the months ahead, President Bush must give the American people and our troops what he failed to give us on May 1st 2003–real answers and a real plan.
He needs to step up and explain his strategy for bringing this conflict to an end, so our troops can begin to come home. As the Congress and the American people have demanded, 2006 must be the year of significant transition in Iraq.
We need a new direction, because our troops, their families and the American people cannot wait for the next president to be elected to do what is right.