Congressman Mitchell -
Within the next few weeks, Congress will hear a progress report on the Bush administration's efforts to stabilize the situation in Iraq. That report will be followed by consideration of a measure funding continued operations in Iraq.
I urge you to reject any measure that doesn't include an unambiguous timeline for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
By any reasonable standard, the war is an ongoing abject failure.
In May when you voted to support HR2206, you cited the benchmarks devised and agreed to by the Iraqi government as the reason you supported continuation of the
According to the GAO, 11 of the 18 benchmarks established earlier this year have not been met; of the other 7 benchmarks, 4 have only been partially met.
And of those seven that have been met or partially met, four are symbolic only. “Quality of life” benchmarks like creating independent and non-sectarian Iraqi security forces are completely unmet.
Furthermore, the practical situation in Iraq is deteriorating. There are daily reports of sectarian strife and military and civilian deaths. Since the beginning of June, nearly 300 U.S. servicemembers and an estimated 5000 Iraqis have died as a result of violence there.
The political situation at home shows a continued decline in support for the war, and even more to the point, growing support for a withdrawal of troops. Support that comes even from many who have supported the war. The latest Gallup poll (August 3 – 5) shows that support for withdrawing troops by next April is at 66%.
Continued support for the war, or even equivocation on withdrawal, is not a position that is in line with the sentiments of the overwhelming majority of Americans.
Lastly, there are the moral considerations, considerations that haven't changed since May.
The war was started under false pretenses, when the President lied about the presence of weapons of mass destruction.
The war was continued under false pretenses, when the Administration repeatedly lied about a connection between Saddam Hussein and terrorism.
Then earlier this year, the President claimed that his “surge” would reduce violence in Iraq, yet the casualty totals for Americans and Iraqis have only increased. In fact, this summer was one of the bloodiest periods of the war.
In short, the President and his appointees have ignored reality, shaded the truth, and out-and-out lied, both to Congress and to the American people, on a regular basis.
To summarize, the situation in Iraq is still deteriorating, support for the war is plummeting, and the least credible President in history is still lying about it all.
There is no reason to believe that the situation in Iraq is improving; the objectively non-partisan GAO report says otherwise.
There are no practical or moral reasons for you or the Congress as a whole to distance yourselves from the mainstream of American thought on this subject.
There is no reason to further align yourself with the least-popular and least-respected President in American history.
There is no reason for you to support any funding measure without specific and binding withdrawal language in it.
Thank you for your consideration.
Note: I didn't bother sending a letter to AZ's U.S. Senators, Kyl and McCain. Even the few seconds needed to copy and paste the letter into their websites' contact forms would have been an utter waste of time.
Anyway, have a great weekend everyone!