April 21, 2004
Pelosi to press Bush on Iraq
Look for more criticism of Team Bush for its colossal bungling of the Iraq invasion, led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi, who voted against the war in October 2002 and against the $87 billion spending package, has been relatively measured in her criticism of the war up until now.
But after a month of high casualties in Iraq, conversations with constituents over the Easter recess, and her own Baghdad visit in March, Pelosi has decided to escalate the House Democrats’ criticism of the war.
She will expand on her criticism that the administration’s promise that American troops would be greeted with “rockets and not roses” and harp on the failure to find any weapons of mass destruction.
Pelosi advised her colleagues that regardless of how they voted on war, they can always fault the administration for its failure to plan, the aide added.
Pelosi will draw heavily from the public statements made by Bush and members of his Cabinet, laying out the administration’s own words and comparing them to recent events and faulting the administration for having what she will call a “sketch of a plan.”
“The Bush administration has gone about the transfer of sovereignty precisely backward. Instead of fostering a legitimate government and choosing a date to transfer sovereignty, the administration picked a date off the calendar without any idea who the new government would be,” according to an advance copy of the speech.
Pelosi’s concerns seemed to be widespread in the caucus, and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) also stepped up his criticism in response to the April casualties.
“There were 87 deaths in the first 15 days of the month, which as of April 20 is 101,” Hoyer told reporters.
He added, “As someone who supported the mission, and still believes the mission is a positive one, I have been very disappointed with the management by this administration of this effort from the fall, when General Shinseki indicated he needed to maintain at least 200,000 troops. There is no doubt that he was correct.”
That all sounds about right to me. Keep the focus on the administration's words and deeds, and how the reality has completely differed from the promises.
However, some Democratic lawmakers cautioned party leaders against being overly critical of the reconstruction effort. Rep. Charles Stenholm (D-Texas), who faces a difficult re-election urged that the party adopt a message that can play in all parts of the country.
I would be very interested to know what kind of message Rep. Stenholm has in mind. In fact, I'm so interested in this that I plan to ask him. I'll let you know what kind of answer I get. Regardless of that, I do hope that the Dems listen to him and take his concerns into account.
UPDATE: Here's her speech. Pretty darned good if you ask me.
Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 21, 2004 to Iraq attack
Don't worry, that's what we do.
I'm guessing he won't be inviting Pelosi to campaign with him? Dangit. :)
You mean Bush? Yeah, I think that's a safe bet. :-)
I have been serving in Iraq for over five months now as a soldier in the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, otherwise known as the "ROCK."
We entered the country at midnight on the 26th of March; one thousand of my fellow soldiers and I parachuted from 10 jumbo jets (known as C-17s) onto a cold, muddy field in Bashur, Northern Iraq. This parachute operation was the U.S. Army's only combat jump of the war and opened up the northern front.
Things have changed tremendously for our battalion since those first cold, wet weeks spent in the mountain city of Bashur. On April 10 our battalion conducted an attack south into the oil-rich town of Kirkuk, the city that has since become our home away from home and the focus of our security and development efforts.
Kirkuk is a hot and dusty city of just over a million people. The majority of the city has welcomed our presence with open arms. After nearly five months here, the people still come running from their homes, in the 110-degree heat, waving to us as our troops drive by on daily patrols of the city. Children smile and run up to shake hands, in their broken English shouting "Thank you, mister."
The people of Kirkuk are all trying to find their way in this new democratic environment. Some major steps have been made in these last three months. A big reason for our steady progress is that our soldiers are living among the people of the city and getting to know their neighbors and the needs of their neighborhoods.
We also have been instrumental in building a new police force. Kirkuk now has 1,700 police officers. The police are now, ethnically, a fair representation of the community as a whole. So far, we have spent more than $500,000 from the former Iraqi regime to repair each of the stations' electricity and plumbing, to paint each station and make it a functional place for the police to work.
The battalion also has assisted in re-establishing Kirkuk's fire department, which is now even more effective than before the war. New water treatment and sewage plants are being constructed and the distribution of oil and gas are steadily improving.
All of these functions were started by our soldiers here in this northern city and are now slowly being turned over to the newly elected city government. Laws are being rewritten to reflect democratic principles and a functioning judicial system was recently established to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the rule of law.
The quality of life and security for the citizens has been largely restored and we are a large part of why that has happened.
The fruits of all our soldiers' efforts are clearly visible in the streets of Kirkuk today. There is very little trash in the streets, there are many more people in the markets and shops and children have returned to school.
This is all evidence that the work we are doing as a battalion and as American soldiers is bettering the lives of Kirkuk's citizens. I am proud of the work we are doing here in Iraq and I hope all of your readers are as well.
Lt. Col. Dominic Caraccilo
"Die dulci fruimini!"