Senate Democrats

REID: AMERICA’S SECURITY DEMANDS A NEW DIRECTION IN IRAQ

Searchlight, NVSenate Democratic Leader Harry Reid today issued the following statement on President Bush’s continuing refusal to change course in the War in Iraq. A fact sheet on the President’s press conference today is included below.

“President Bush is wrong to say that success in Iraq is a question of resolve. Instead, it is a question of strategy. Three years into the war in Iraq, the unfortunate truth is that the President’s strategy is a failure. Far from spreading freedom and democracy in the Middle East, the Bush Administration has watched while extremists grow stronger, Iran goes nuclear, Iraq falls into civil war, and oil and gas prices skyrocket. Simply staying the course is unacceptable. We need a new direction in the Middle East, especially in Iraq, where the President’s failed policies have made America less safe.”

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FACT CHECK: President Bush

Bush Downplayed the Threat of an Iraq Civil War with Talk of Iraqi Unity. “You know, I hear a lot of talk about civil war. I’m concerned about that, of course. And I’ve talked to a lot of people about it. And what I’ve found from my talks are that the Iraqis want a unified country and that the Iraqi leadership is determined to thwart the efforts of the extremists and the radicals and Al Qaida and that the security forces remain united behind the government.” [8/21/06]

  • FACT: July Was the Deadliest Month in Iraq Since March 2003. “During the month, 3,438 Iraqis were killed — 1,855 because of sectarian or political violence and another 1,583 from bombings and shootings. Nearly 3,600 Iraqis were wounded, the official said.” [CNN,8/17/06]
  • FACT: The Problem We Now Need to Address is the Threat of an Iraqi Civil War Spilling across Iraq’s Borders. According to Daniel L. Byman, director of Georgetown University’s Center for Peace and Security Studies, and Kenneth M. Pollack, research director at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, the problem the U.S. now needs to address is the threat of a regional conflict. “Considering how many mistakes the United States has made in Iraq, how much time has been squandered, and how difficult the task is, even a serious course correction in Washington and Baghdad may only postpone the inevitable. Iraq displays many of the conditions most conducive to spillover. The country’s ethnic, tribal and religious groups are also found in neighboring states, and they share many of the same grievances. Iraq has a history of violence with its neighbors, which has fostered desires for vengeance and fomented constant clashes. Iraq also possesses resources that its neighbors covet — oil being the most obvious, but important religious shrines also figure in the mix — and its borders are porous. . . . . With an all-out civil war looming in Iraq, Washington must decide how to deal with the most common and dangerous ways such conflicts spill across national boundaries. Only by understanding the refugee crises, terrorism, radicalization of neighboring populations, copycat secessions and foreign interventions that such wars frequently spark can we begin to plan for how to cope with them in the months and years ahead.” [Washington Post, 8/20/06]

Bush Warned That a Failed Iraq Will Promote Terrorism: “A failed Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will provide safe haven for terrorists and extremists. It will embolden those who are trying to thwart the ambitions of reformers. In this case, it would give the terrorists and extremists an additional tool besides safe haven, and that is revenues from oil sales.” [8/21/06]

  • FACT: The Iraq War Has Already Been a Disaster for the Fight Against Terrorism with the Potential to Get Worse. According to Byman and Pollack: “The war in Iraq has proved to be a disaster for the struggle against Osama bin Laden. Fighters there are receiving training, building networks and becoming further radicalized — and the U.S. occupation is proving a dream recruiting tool for young Muslims worldwide. As bad as this is, a wide-scale civil war in Iraq could make the terrorism problem even worse. [Washington Post, 8/20/06]

Bush Claimed He Never Said that Saddam Hussein Ordered the Attacks of 9/11. “[N]obody’s ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack. Iraq was a — Iraq — the lesson of September the 11th is: Take threats before they fully materialize, Ken. Nobody’s ever suggested that the attacks of September the 11th were ordered by Iraq.” [8/21/06]

  • FACT: Bush Repeatedly Linked Iraq to Al-Qaeda to Convince Americans to Support the Invasion of Iraq. Some examples:

· “[Y]ou can’t distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror.” (President Bush, Photo Opportunity, 9/25/02)

· “The regime has long-standing and continuing ties to terrorist organizations. And there are al-Qaeda terrorists inside Iraq. The regime is seeking a nuclear bomb, and with fissile material, could build one within a year.” (President Bush, remarks at Rose Garden, 9/26/02)

· “Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal the Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaeda. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.” (President Bush, State of the Union, 1/28/03)

· “We also know that Iraq is harboring a terrorist network, headed by a senior al -Qaeda terrorist planner . . .The danger that Saddam Hussein poses reaches across the world.” (President Bush, Statement in the Roosevelt Room, 2/6/03)

· “Saddam Hussein has longstanding, direct and continuing ties to terrorist networks. Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and Al Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990s. Iraq has sent bomb-making document forgery experts to work with Al Qaeda. Iraq has also provided Al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training…We also know that Iraq is harboring a terrorist network headed by a senior Al Qaeda terrorist planner. This network runs a poison and explosive training camp in northeast Iraq, and many of its leaders are known to be in Baghdad.” (President Bush, radio address, 2/8/03)

· “Senior members of Iraqi intelligence and al Qaeda have met at least eight times since the early 1990s. Iraq has sent bomb-making and document forgery experts to work with al Qaeda. Iraq has also provided al Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training. We know that Iraq is harboring a terrorist network, headed by a senior al Qaeda terrorist planner. The network runs a poison and explosive training center in northeast Iraq, and many of its leaders are known to be in Baghdad.” (President Bush, press conference, 2/6/03)

· “…And it [Iraq] has aided, trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al Qaeda.” (President Bush, Address to the Nation, 3/17/03)

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