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Rep. Waters: NBC Finally Declares Civil War in Iraq

July 30, 2009
Press Release

Representative Maxine Waters (CA-35) today issued the following statement subsequent to NBC News' acknowledging that the sectarian violence in Iraq is, in fact, a full-fledged civil war:

"On September 6, 2006, I introduced H Res 984, a resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that Iraq is in the midst of a civil war since the February 22, 2006 bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, Iraq, one of the holiest places for Shiite Muslims.  Most political scientists define the term "civil war" as a war between different parties of the same country or nation in which casualties are in excess of 1,000 with at least 100 from each side.  Clearly, the violence in Iraq reached those thresholds long ago."

"On February 28, 2006, in a speech I delivered to the House of Representatives following the bombing of the Golden Mosque, I said, ‘we have seen a country on the brink of civil war slide into civil war.'  On October 19th, I issued a press release urging President Bush to finally admit that Iraq is in a civil war."

"Today's news, that lawmakers and cabinet ministers loyal to Shiite Cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have suspended participation in Iraq's government, is further evidence of a deteriorating situation in Iraq."

"Earlier this week, NBC News became the first major news organization to go on record and declare what many Americans, even those with a limited understanding of international affairs, have already acknowledged.  For months, the term "sectarian violence" has been used as a euphemism to describe the full-fledged civil war that has engulfed Iraq and endangers U.S. troops who are now stuck refereeing a violent conflict created by the Bush Administration's failure to adequately plan for a post-invasion Iraq."  

"However, other major news organizations have avoided their duty to accurately report the facts.  The New York Times, for example, has reportedly decided to let its correspondents pick-and-choose when they will refer to the violence as a civil war.  And the Christian Science Monitor and the Los Angeles Times have inconsistently used the term "civil war" in their stories.  In fact, most news organizations are still unwilling to label the all-consuming violence plaguing Iraq as a civil war."

"The media's reluctance to accurately report on the total disintegration of the relatively peaceful pre-war relationship between the Sunni and Shi'a factions has allowed the Bush Administration to continue with its failed ‘stay-the-course' strategy.  And, as Iraq continues to devolve into chaos, the media appears to have abandoned its responsibility to hold the President accountable for not having a plan to end the war, for allowing it continue to spiral out of control, and for further endangering the lives of millions of Iraqi civilians and 140,000 U.S. troops."

"For months, Shiites have attacked the minority Sunni population, and both groups' militias have fought with Iraqi Security Forces.  The United Nations estimates that more than 14,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in the first half of 2006.  When I introduced H Res 984, there was no question in my mind Iraq was in the middle of a civil war.  Unfortunately, the level of death and violence in Iraq has escalated since its introduction.  In October of this year, an estimated 3,709 Iraqis were brutally killed; on November 12th, 159 Iraqis were killed or found dead; on November 20th at least 140 people were reported killed.  Just last week, on November 23rd, while we were celebrating Thanksgiving, Sunni insurgents killed more than 215 Iraqis in Sadr City – the worst violence since the war began in 2003; and today, at least 12 Iraqis were killed."

"Once again I call on the U.S. Congress – Democrats and Republicans – and the media to find the courage to do the right thing – expose the Bush Administration's mismanagement of this war, and declare that a civil war has broken out in Iraq.  Any future plans that do not acknowledge this reality will prolong the occupation of Iraq and lengthen the time U.S. troops are stuck in the middle of the sectarian violence." 

Representative Maxine Waters is Chair of the 73-member ‘Out of Iraq' Congressional Caucus.  The Caucus was founded in June 2005 to pressure the Bush Administration to conclude the Iraq war as soon as possible.