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Senator Clinton Joins Senate Colleagues in Letter to President on Iraq

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Location: Washington, DC


Senator Clinton Joins Senate Colleagues in Letter to President on Iraq

As the elections in Iraq move forward, Senator Clinton has joined 40 of her Senate colleagues in sending a letter to the President urging him to engage in a frank dialogue with the American people about what lies ahead in Iraq and reiterating the position of a bipartisan majority of the Senate that the Iraqi people take the lead in defending and governing their country. In the letter, the Senators encouraged the President to provide the public with a plan for Iraq, "we regret that the American people have still not been presented with a plan that identifies the remaining political, economic, and military benchmarks that must be met in order to facilitate the phased redeployment of U.S. forces and a reasonable schedule to achieve them."

Senator Clinton also today praised the women in Iraq who are bravely taking a stand to protect their rights and encouraged women to vote in the elections and continue to push for women's rights as the Iraqi constitution is drafted.

Senator Clinton's statement on the importance of women's rights in Iraq and the text of the letter to the President follow:

Statement of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on Protecting Women's Rights in Iraq

"Every day the women in Iraq are braving great odds to secure for themselves a political future that protects their rights and those of their daughters and granddaughters. Thousands of women have offered themselves as candidates in the upcoming elections, thousands more will come forward to monitor the polls. Women's groups and women from numerous political parties have joined together to advocate for strong protections for women's rights in the constitution, and that fight will continue until the language of that constitution is finalized next year. Women are already preparing to advocate for changes in social policy, greater transparency in government, and laws to fight corruption.

I hope that women will vote in large numbers in the December 15th elections, and that those who are elected will continue to push for strong protections for women in Iraq. Activists and leaders throughout the world know that their struggle will strengthen the cause of women everywhere."

The text of the letter to the President:

December 14, 2005

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

All Americans recognize the historic nature of the elections for a permanent, democratic government in Iraq on Thursday. We salute our courageous men and women in uniform, who are serving proudly in Iraq under enormously difficult circumstances, and whose dedication and sacrifice are making these elections possible.

Like you, we hope the elections will proceed peacefully and the Iraqi people will succeed in electing a legitimate government that is capable of uniting the Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish people. We know that successful elections can play an important part in defeating the insurgency and hastening the day when Iraqis can govern themselves without outside assistance.

We also know that the work of the Iraqi people to build the kind of Iraq we would all like to see does not end with these elections. It is vital that the Iraqis move more quickly toward inclusive political solutions. The four month period after the Iraqi elections, when the new government will attempt to finalize a Constitution, is perhaps the most critical time for the Iraqis and our troops. That is why 79 members of the Senate, including 41 Republicans, voted last month for an amendment that said, "calendar year 2006 should be a period of significant transition to 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 United States forces from Iraq." A strong bipartisan majority of the Senate believes Iraqis must now step forward in the months ahead and take the lead in defending and governing their own country.

Your leadership will be essential in achieving this objective. As was stated in the bipartisan amendment that passed the Senate, "the [Bush] Administration should tell the leaders of all groups and political parties in Iraq that they need to make the compromises necessary to achieve the broad-based and sustainable political settlement that is essential for defeating the insurgency in Iraq within the schedule they set for themselves." Your leadership will also be needed to ensure that we leverage the influence of the international community and Iraq's neighbors to push for a sustainable political compromise, and that we stand up sufficient numbers of capable Iraqi security forces so that our troops can begin standing down.

Finally, we also believe that you must engage in a frank and honest dialogue with the American people and our troops about the road ahead in Iraq. As the bipartisan amendment stated, "the [Bush] Administration needs to explain to Congress and the American people its strategy for the successful completion of the mission in Iraq." While we appreciate your recent speeches on this issue, we regret that the American people have still not been presented with a plan that identifies the remaining political, economic, and military benchmarks that must be met and a reasonable schedule to achieve them. We hope you will use Wednesday's speech to finally provide a detailed explanation of your strategy for the successful completion of the mission in Iraq.

The window of time to get things right in Iraq may be rapidly closing. The successful completion of our mission is possible only through the hard work of the Iraqi people and the effective leadership of your Administration. We stand ready to work with the Iraqi people and your Administration in the days ahead.

Sincerely,

Senator Daniel Akaka
Senator Max Baucus
Senator Evan Bayh
Senator Joe Biden
Senator Jeff Bingaman
Senator Barbara Boxer
Senator Robert Byrd
Senator Maria Cantwell
Senator Tom Carper
Senator Hillary Clinton
Senator Jon Corzine
Senator Mark Dayton
Senator Chris Dodd
Senator Byron Dorgan
Senator Dick Durbin
Senator Russ Feingold
Senator Diane Feinstein
Senator Tom Harkin
Senator Daniel Inouye
Senator Jim Jeffords
Senator Tim Johnson
Senator Ted Kennedy
Senator John Kerry
Senator Herb Kohl
Senator Mary Landrieu
Senator Frank Lautenberg
Senator Patrick Leahy
Senator Carl Levin
Senator Blanche Lincoln
Senator Barbara Mikulski
Senator Patty Murray
Senator Barack Obama
Senator Mark Pryor
Senator Jack Reed
Senator Harry Reid
Senator John Rockefeller
Senator Ken Salazar
Senator Paul Sarbanes
Senator Chuck Schumer
Senator Debbie Stabenow
Senator Ron Wyden

http://clinton.senate.gov/news/statements/details.cfm?id=249731&&

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