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Congresswoman Maxine Waters

Representing the 43rd District of California

Out of Iraq Caucus

August 6, 2009
Floor Statement
Rep. Maxine Waters [D-CA]: Mr. Speaker, I rise tonight to continue the debate on Iraq, the war in Iraq. I rise to continue this debate because those of us who are part of the Out of Iraq Caucus, and I am the Chair of that caucus, do not intend to have a debate organized for one day and have people going away saying, well, we took care of that.
   
This debate must continue because the truth must be told.
   
Over the weekend, we received terrible news. Two of our soldiers, Private First Class Kristian Menchaca of Texas and Private First Class Thomas Tucker of Oregon were captured by insurgents, reportedly al Qaeda operatives in Iraq.
   
Today their bodies were found. Their bodies showed signs of torture, leading an Iraqi Defense Ministry official to say that they were "killed in a barbaric way." I extend my deepest sympathies to the families and friends of Private Menchaca and Private Tucker. Our thoughts and our prayers are with them and all those who have lost loved ones in this war.
   
Mr. Speaker, the President constantly tells us that "as Iraqis stand up, we will stand down." This is the President's way of describing in a rather vague and evasive manner our involvement in Iraq, our continued involvement in Iraq.
   
According to the Department of Defense, significant progress is being made in training Iraqis to assume security responsibilities in Iraq. The Defense Department trumpets the news that 250,000 Iraqi military are either fully trained or nearly fully trained to provide security throughout Iraq. Well, my question to the administration is: What are they doing? What are these trained Iraqi soldiers doing?
   
If they are so trained as the administration says they are, they should be able to take over the responsibility of providing security to their fellow countrymen while allowing our men and women in uniform to return home.
   
But the sad fact is Iraqis are not assuming this role. Instead, our troops who are put in harm's way are the ones paying the price for this administration's mistaken and misguided war. They have been assuming this role and will continue to do so indefinitely until this President's irresponsible leadership is challenged and changed.
   
Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, the administration constantly tells the American people that progress is being made on the war. For example, when the formation of the Iraqi Government was announced, President Bush said the Iraqis had reached a "turning point." At least five times since the beginning of the Iraq war, President Bush has declared that Iraq has reached a turning point. Yet after each milestone was achieved, violence in Iraq grew progressively worse, and more U.S. soldiers have died or been injured.
   
The most infamous turning point was on May 1, 2003, when President Bush rolled out and declared "Mission Accomplished" aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. At that point, 139 U.S. servicemen and -women had died in Iraq. Today that number has grown to 2,502 U.S. servicemen and -women who have died in Iraq.
   
Furthermore, the violence against Iraqis has grown almost beyond comprehension. It is estimated that between 138 and 242 Iraqis have died so far this month alone. They die from car bombings, assassinations and other violent acts.
   
Today alone, news report indicate that at least 11 Iraqis were killed in a string of bombings across Iraq. In short, the progress that the administration and its supporters cite in Iraq does not exist.
   
The administration went into war with rose-colored glasses on. They promised the American people that the war had been adequately justified, planned and could be an affordable undertaking.
   
Unfortunately, the facts on the ground show differently. The war has gone on for more than 3 years, and by the end of this year, the total cost of the war will be $450 billion.
   
Mr. Speaker, it is time for us to redeploy our troops from Iraq and end the war in Iraq. The best way to accomplish these goals is to pass the Murtha resolution, H.J. Res. 73, which would redeploy U.S. forces from Iraq. The resolution says no more U.S. troops sent to Iraq, and that the troops in Iraq will be redeployed as soon as possible, a judgment made by military officials on the ground.
   
Section 2 says that a group of marines will remain in the Middle East to respond to threats that destabilize our allies in the region or the national security of the United States.
   
I wish could go into it more, but I have run out of time.

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