Senator Clinton Makes Rumsfeld Squirm at Iraq Hearing
Senator Clinton's Statements and Question to Rumsfeld:
Thank you very much, Senator McCain.
Mr. Secretary [Rumsfeld], We're glad you are here. In your opening statements, you reference the commonsense of Americans. I think it's fair to say that collective common sense, overwhelmingly, either does not understand or approve of the way you and the administration are handling Iraq and Afghanistan. Under your leadership, there have been numerous errors in judgement that have lead us to where we are in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have a full-fledged insurgency and full blown sectarian conflict in Iraq. Now, whether you label it a civil war or not, it certainly has created a situation of extreme violence and the continuing loss among our troops and of the Iraqis. You did not go into Iraq with enough troops to establish law and order. You disbanded the entire Iraqi army. Now, we're trying to recreate it. You did not do enough planning for what it is called "phase four" and you rejected all the planning that had been done previously to maintain stability are the regime was overthrown. You underestimated the nature and strength of the insurgency, the sectarian violence, and the spread of Iranian influence.
Last year, Congress passed "The United States Policy in Iraq Act" which I strongly supported. This law declares 2006 to be a year of significant transition into full Iraqi sovereignty with Iraqi security forces taking the lead for the security of a free and sovereign Iraq. Thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq. However, we appear to be moving in the opposite direction. With the number of U.S. troops in Iraq scheduled to increase, not decrease. That's the only way I think you can fairly consider the decision with respect to the 172nd striker brigade.
So, Mr. Secretary, as we return to our states for the August recess, our constituents have a lot of questions and concerns about the current state of affairs in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I don't need to remind any of us that we continue to lose our young men and women. 120 from New York, alone. Besides the U.S. losses, violence does seem to be increasing. From January to June of this year, there were 14,338 Iraqi civilian casualties. At least, as far as anyone can count. In May and June alone, there were more than 5000 deaths and more than 5700 injuries. In a July 22 article in the New York Times, General Abazaid was quoted as saying, "Two months after the new Iraqi government took office, the security gains that we had hoped for had not been achieved." Then there was the big ballyhooed announcement of "forward together" and the commitment by the new Iraqi government to secure Baghdad. Two months into that, it is clear that it's not working and we are now putting in more American troops and following the lead of Senator McCain's line of questioning, we're moving [the troops] from other places that are hardly stable and secure.
In Afghanistan, your administration's credibility is also suspect. In December, 2002, you said the Taliban had gone. In September of 2004, President Bush said, "The Taliban is no longer in existance." However, this February, DIA director, Lt. Gen. Maples said that in 2005, attacks by the Taliban and other anti-coalition forces were up 20% from 2004 levels and these insurgents were a greater threat to the Afghan government's efforts to expand its authority than at any time since 2001. Further, Gen. Ikenberry[sic] made a comparable comment with respect to the dangers that are now going on in Afghanistan and the failure to be able to secure it.
Obviously, I could go on and on. The recent book, aptly titled, "Fiasco", describes in some detail the decision making apparatus that has lead us to this situation. So, Mr. Secretary, when our constituents ask for evidence that your policy in Iraq and Afghanistan will be successful, you don't leave us with much to talk about. Yes, we hear a lot of happy talk and rosy scenarios but because of the administration's strategic blunders and, frankly, the record of incompetence in executing, you are presiding over a failed policy. Given your track record, Secretary Rumsfeld, why should we believe your assurances now?