Washington, DC— Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senators Carl Levin and Jack Reed held a press conference today to discuss Gen. David Petraeus’s and Ambassador Ryan Crocker’s testimony before Congress on President Bush’s troop escalation strategy in Iraq.
This week’s testimony confirmed that the Bush Administration is continuing to pursue its flawed strategy even as every objective assessment of the surge reports that it has failed to bring the Iraqi government closer to political reconciliation.
“The President’s plan is neither a drawdown nor the change in mission we need. His plan is more of the same,” Reid said. “This is unacceptable to me. It is unacceptable to the American people. And I hope this is unacceptable to Senate Republicans. Supporting a plan that keeps at least 130,000 troops in Iraq for what could be years to come is not a change in mission. I call on Senate Republicans to stay true to their word and work with us this month to craft legislation that changes the mission in Iraq and begins a true redeployment of our troops.”
Said Levin, Chairman, Senate Armed Services Committee: “If President Bush is simply calling for reductions to pre-surge levels – and not a change in mission to get our troops out of a civil war – then it is not a change in policy, but simply an illusion of change. We in Congress need to press for a real change in course.”
“Regardless of the situation on the ground in Iraq, the so-called surge will end in April 2008 because we simply can not supply additional forces or sustain our troop commitment at its current level,” said Reed, also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We have to start thinking about what is in our nation’s best interest. We need to continue hunting down terrorists operating in Iraq. But we do not need to put American soldiers in harm’s way to buy Iraqi politicians another six months of political breathing room. We need to change course.”