Senate Democrats

REID DEMANDS ANSWERS ABOUT RUN UP TO WAR

New threats mean America must avoid making same mistakes twice

Washington, DCSenate Democratic Leader Harry Reid today delivered the following remarks at the Democratic Policy Committee’s hearings into possible manipulation of intelligence information by the Bush Administration in the run-up to the Iraq war. In the fourth year of the war, with America facing new and growing threats around the world, a full accounting of the mistakes made in Iraq is more important than ever. The Iran Intelligence Oversight Act, Senator Reid’s legislation to require greater oversight of the Bush Administration’s claims about Iran intelligence passed the Senate last week as an amendment to the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill.

The text of Senator Reid’s remarks, as prepared, is below.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this important hearing. I also am pleased that you extended an invitation to your counterpart, Senator Kyl, and the Republican Policy Committee, to join this hearing. I welcome that, and I know our witnesses do as well.

The war in Iraq will be a subject that historians will study for years to come.

Before memories fade, we in the Senate have a useful responsibility to play in building a record of the key episodes of that history. It will be for the historians to weigh the various points of view and draw judgments about the events that transpired. The goal we have today is merely to do our part to build that record.

In that regard, I appreciate very much the spirit of openness and frankness these witnesses bring to the task.

In addition to building a record for history, Mr. Chairman, there is also a more near-term purpose – better preparing the Senate and the Senators here assembled for the oversight challenges that lay ahead of them.

There is broad consensus on both sides of the aisle that the quality of the debate in the runup to war in Iraq was not good. The path to war was rushed, and it was flawed. We need to understand how that was so, so we can prevent a rush to commit the same mistakes again in the future.

We face ahead of us major challenges – understanding how to craft a path to success in Iraq, understanding the challenge of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, understanding how to win the war of ideas against Al Qaeda, understanding how to stop North Korea’s nukes and missiles.

Last week, the Senate passed measures in the defense authorization bill that would improve the Senate’s oversight of Iran and North Korea policy. We did that because we studied what happened in Iraq and have tried to apply the lessons we have learned.

You can be helpful to the Senate today in helping us understand the flaws in the process that led to war in Iraq, so that we fix those as we deal with these challenges like Iran and North Korea looming ahead of us.

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