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Rep. Waters: New Defense Secretary Has Opportunity to Save Lives and Conclude the Iraq War

July 30, 2009
Press Release

U.S. Representative Maxine Waters (CA-35) today issued the following statement regarding the high levels of violence in Iraq during Defense Secretary Robert Gates' visit to Iraq:

"Mr. Gates, the new Secretary of Defense, has appropriately spent much of his first few days as Secretary focusing on the Iraq war.  In fact, Secretary Gates has been meeting with U.S. military officials and Iraqi politicians in Iraq since Wednesday in order to develop the recommendations he will make to President Bush regarding the President's Iraq policy."

"The welcome Secretary Gates has received while in Iraq must have been of little comfort.  Over the past several days the violence in Iraq has not paused during his visit.  On Wednesday, the day Secretary Gates arrived in Iraq, the bodies of 76 Iraqis were recovered in Baghdad.  In the past 72-hours more than 50 Iraqis have been murdered throughout the country.  Most tragically, since Wednesday the U.S. military has announced the deaths of 12 U.S. servicemembers, bringing the total number of American troops that have been killed in Iraq this month to 71.  Since the war began, 2,957 US troops and approximately 247 coalition troops have died because of the war in Iraq.  With the passing of each day, the violence in Iraq is getting worse."

"The policies carried out by President Bush and the former Secretary of Defense has put the United States between a rock and a hard place.  The President's decision to invade Iraq was ill-conceived and poorly planned and left us unprepared to deal with a post-Saddam Iraq.  Consequently, our military is stretched thin and our reputation in the world is near its lowest levels ever.  However, the new Secretary has the opportunity to address both these problems.  He can recommend to the President not to send more troops to Iraq and to begin redeploying our troops from Iraq.  These recommendations, if implemented, would relieved the stress on our military and begin the process to repairing our image in the world."

"Secretary Gates should also recommend that the President focus on diplomacy, including talks with Iran and Syria, to stabilize Iraq and the Middle East.  The Secretary of Defense must have the courage to look the President in the eye and tell him the truth.  Secretary Gates has the opportunity to save lives and billions of taxpayers' dollars by making these recommendations. I hope that he takes that opportunity."

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.