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Senate Democrats Want Vote on Iraq Withdrawal Plan

by Pamela Leavey

Reuters reports that Senate “Democrats plan to offer a resolution in the Senate on Tuesday seeking a timetable for a phased withdrawal from Iraq.”

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said on Sunday in an interview on CNN, “Three years and three months into the war, with all of the losses, the insurgency, the burgeoning civil war that’s taking place, an open-ended time commitment is no longer sustainable. We want to see an end to this thing. We want to transition the mission. That isn’t cutting and running.”

I don’t know why we are so afraid to stand up and say, ‘look, we want to see an end to this thing’,” she said.

Feinstein argued an open-ended deployment was unsustainable for the U.S. military, which needed to be free to deal with growing problems in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

There are approximately 129,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and the military death toll since the 2003 invasion reached 2,500 last week. Administration officials have said they would like to withdraw some troops before November’s midterm if conditions on the ground permit it, which could ease pressure on Republicans in their battle to retain control of Congress.


Reuters also noted the Senate vote at the end of last week claiming that it was “offered by Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry. ” The fact is, as reported by previous coverage in the MSM, that the vote was on a resolution that Senator Mitch McConnell put up, lifting the wording from Kerry’s earlier resolution. As I reported here (and so too, did the MSM), it was decided on Thursday that there would be a debate on Kerry’s plan this coming week.

Kerry spokeswoman, April Boyd said that Kerry “was angry that Republicans put to a vote his amendment, which was still being crafted and would work with colleagues this week on his amendment plans.”

John Kerry has been calling for a clear deadline for withdrawal and will not take the heat off the Iraqi leaders to do their job and stand up for their own country,” she said.

From the Senate Floor on Thursday:

MR. KERRY: … THIS WILL BE THE FIRST TIME IN SOME TIME THAT WE WILL HAVE DEBATED THIS ISSUE. I SUGGEST SOME OF MY COLLEAGUES GO BACK AND REREAD THE RESOLUTION WHICH GAVE THE PRESIDENT THE AUTHORITY TO GO INTO IRAQ.

THERE’S NOTHING IN THAT RESOLUTION THAT GIVES AUTHORITY FOR WHAT WE’RE DOING TODAY.

In an editorial in the Sunday NY Times, “A Long Road Ahead in Iraq,” the NY Times said:

Rather than engage in a serious debate about America’s future course in Iraq, President Bush and the Republican Congress have again opted for sound bites and partisanship. Yet all the choreographed posturing and a one-week flurry of good news cannot blot out the larger picture of dubious trends and dismal prospects. Not only is the glass less than half full. The water level, viewed over months rather than days, is not noticeably rising.

Iraq is a mess — “Pretending things are better than they are will not make them so.”

Let’s have that debate, instead of the phony debate offered by the Republican leadership last week, bolstered up by Pentagon talking points. America deserves to have our leaders engage in an honest debate on Iraq and so too do our troops, who “are now spending their fourth year mired in a dangerous and ill-defined mission with no realistic plan for success and no end in sight.”

Lastly, E&P reported on Sunday that the WaPo “has obtained a cable, marked ‘sensitive,’ that it says show that just before President Bush left on a surprise trip last Monday to the Green Zone in Baghdad for an upbeat assessment of the situation there, ‘the U.S. Embassy in Iraq painted a starkly different portrait of increasing danger and hardship faced by its Iraqi employees.'”

This cable outlines, the Post reported Sunday, “the daily-worsening conditions for those who live outside the heavily guarded international zone: harassment, threats and the employees’ constant fears that their neighbors will discover they work for the U.S. government.”

It’s actually far worse than that, as the details published below indicate, which include references to abductions, threats to women’s rights, and “ethnic cleansing.”

E&P has more details here and the details are not pretty. The WaPo’s copy of the cable in PDF is available here.

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