Washington, DC— Senate Democratic Leaders Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Charles Schumer and Patty Murray today sent the following letter to President Bush, asking him to inform Congress on his near- and long-term strategies for addressing the heightened terrorist threat. The Leaders also urged President Bush to change course in Iraq so we can refocus our efforts on the growing Al Qaeda threat that still exists nearly six years after 9/11.
The text of the letter is below.
July 12, 2007
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Press reports today indicate that the National Counterterrorism Center, our government’s top counterterrorism experts, recently concluded that Al Qaeda has significantly rebuilt itself since 2001 and is now as strong as ever. Earlier this week, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff stated he believes the country faces an increased chance of a terrorist attack this summer. Additionally, today’s Initial Benchmark Assessment Report outlines that the Iraqi government has failed to meet any of the key benchmarks they set for themselves, demonstrating that the war in Iraq continues to head in the wrong direction. These developments are the latest troubling indicators that your national security strategy is making America less secure and has left America vulnerable to terrorist attack.
It has become increasingly obvious that the war in Iraq has only exacerbated the terrorist threat. Iraq has now become what it was not before the start of the conflict there, namely a training ground and launching pad for a new generation of terrorists. Your focus on Iraq has permitted Al Qaeda to gather strength elsewhere to the point where Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell recently concluded that the next attack on America most likely “would be planned and come out of the [Al Qaeda] leadership in Pakistan.” Meanwhile, repeated and extended deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan have stretched our military to the breaking point and reduced readiness to levels not seen since Vietnam. Finally, most Guard and Reserve units in our states no longer have the equipment they need to perform their tasks, either abroad or here at home in the event of a national emergency or a disaster.
It is precisely because of our concerns about these developments that Senate Democrats have been pushing to rebuild and reequip our military, fully implement the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations, enhance our special operations and intelligence capabilities, and, perhaps most urgently, change your strategy in Iraq. We are surprised that you and many congressional Republicans have resisted these efforts and concerned that you continue to do so.
We ask that you immediately inform Congress through the appropriate channels of (1) the near-term steps your Administration has taken or plans to take to address Secretary Chertoff’s heightened concerns about the terrorist threat, and (2) the strategy to reverse the alarming growth of Al Qaeda and affiliated extremist groups.
Thank you for your consideration of these views and we look forward to your prompt response.
Richard J. Durbin
Charles E. Schumer