Barbara Lee Speaks Out Against Escalation Calls for Fully Funding Withdrawal

(Washington, DC) – Today on the floor of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) spoke forcefully in support of a bipartisan resolution supporting U.S. troops and rejecting President Bush’s proposed escalation of the war in Iraq. The following is her statement (as delivered):

“As the daughter of a proud veteran of two wars, I know personally that we have a moral obligation to support and protect our brave men and women on the ground in Iraq.

“However, there is no reason for us to stand behind the President’s plan to escalate his failed policy in Iraq.

“In fact, Madame Speaker, the American people are ahead of us. A USA Today/Gallup poll released just today shows that 60 percent oppose the escalation. Sixty-three percent favor bringing our troops home by the end of 2008. And Last November the American people soundly rejected the President’s failed policy on Iraq at the voting booth.

“You would think that the President understood what this all meant. After the election he continued his listening tour on options for Iraq. But it seems that he wasn’t hearing what the American people were saying. The Iraq Study Group actually indicated and said very clearly there was no military solution to this mess. Rather than heed the call of military experts, advisors, the ISG, and the American people, the President offered an even worse plan: put more troops in harm’s way in Iraq.

“This just doesn’t make any sense. That’s why this no-confidence resolution puts the administration on notice: end the occupation and bring our troops home.

“However, if the President doesn’t change course we must go further.

“The war has undermined our credibility and standing in the world. This war has cost too many lives and injured too many of our troops. This war has cost too many Iraqi lives. This war has cost us nearly half a trillion dollars and the costs keep mounting. The chaos in Iraq that the President set in motion has further destabilized an already precarious balance in the Middle East.

“We must take steps to use the upcoming supplemental appropriations bill to set in motion an end to this terrible and misguided war and bring our troops home from Iraq. To that end, I support fully funding the safe withdrawal of our troops from Iraq over a six month period and I will work with my colleagues to do this.

“Additionally, along with my colleagues in the Progressive Caucus and the Out of Iraq Caucus, we have introduced H.R. 508, the Bring Our Troops Home and Sovereignty of Iraq Restoration Act. This bill would completely fully fund military withdrawal from Iraq within six months, while ensuring that our troops and contractors leave safely, and accelerate the training of Iraqi security forces. And we would make certain that our veterans, who have given so much, receive the health and mental health benefits that they deserve.

“Our bill would remove the specter of an endless– and that’s what this is right now, it’s an endless occupation – by preventing the establishment of permanent military bases. Our very presence in Iraq is fueling the insurgency and our troops have been targets of this civil war.

“Madame Speaker, these are the best and safest ways to end this occupation.

“But it really didn’t have to be this way. Imagine for a moment what would have happened had Congress adopted my substitute amendment to the authorization to use force against Iraq in October 2002? We would have allowed the UN inspectors to finish their jobs. We would have discovered what we all know now as fact—that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction. And as then, there was no connection between the horrific events of 9/11 and Iraq. Iraq did not attack us, as many are trying to continue to convince the American people that it did. Iraq didn’t attack us five years ago.

The bottom line is that Iraq also would not be a war torn country, as it is today, and, again, the world is less safe.

“And, if this wasn’t enough, over the last several months, the President has been saber-rattling on the issue of Iran. We must not go down the same path and end up in another unnecessary, dangerous, costly and disastrous preemptive war with Iran.

“This notion of the ‘axis of evil’ and preemptive war is very dangerous.

“Madame Speaker, the stakes are too high. We need to stop digging ourselves deeper into this hole.

“Escalating this war and expanding this war does nothing in terms of our national security. It puts us more at risk. Iraq was not a haven for terrorists, as it is now. Again, Iraq, Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, there was no connection and we have to dispel that notion so the American people know the truth.

“So, rather than try to end this war today, we are saying, for today at least, let’s stop the escalation and expansion, and we’ll be back to talk about how we’re going to begin to bring our troops home and bring them home within six months.”