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Senator Santorum Calls for a Fresh Look at the Future of Iraq

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Location: Washington, DC

Senator Santorum Calls for a Fresh Look at the Future of Iraq

U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, today sent a letter to President Bush concerning both the current military operations in Iraq and the need to better assess and communicate the progress toward our laudable goal of establishing a stable democracy in the Middle East.

The letter states, "I strongly believe that the American people should hear objective and unbiased assessments of both military and civil operations ongoing in Iraq. While the people of Iraq have been liberated from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and his corrupt government, American and Coalition military forces face continued insurrection from terrorists opposed to the creation of a truly democratic Iraq and committed to oppressing freedom throughout the world.

"With this in mind, I join others in Congress in calling for the creation of a commission or panel of experts to objectively and critically report to the American people on the progress being made in Iraq. Importantly, this panel should be forward-looking - focusing on what we as a nation must do to achieve success in Iraq."

Below is a copy of the letter.

January 5, 2006

The President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I write today concerning both the military operations in Iraq and the need to better assess the progress toward achieving our goal of building a democracy in the Middle East. Your recent remarks to the American people on both topics are both appropriate and welcome. I also understand that you met today with a bipartisan group of former Secretaries of State and Defense, and I applaud you for reaching outside of your Administration to hear expert advice as we move forward in Iraq.

I strongly believe that the American people should hear objective and unbiased assessments of both military and civil operations ongoing in Iraq. While the people of Iraq have been liberated from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and his corrupt government, American and Coalition military forces face continued insurrection from terrorists opposed to the creation of a truly democratic Iraq and committed to oppressing freedom throughout the world.

With this in mind, I join others in Congress in calling for the creation of a commission or panel of experts to objectively and critically report to the American people on the progress being made in Iraq. Congress took a first step toward this goal by requiring quarterly reports on activities in Iraq. However, an objective and capable independent commission or panel would help in building the confidence and trust of the American people on progress in Iraq. Importantly, this panel should be forward-looking - focusing on what we as a nation must do to achieve success in Iraq.

Based on communication shared with my office from military service members serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, I believe that the American people have not received an accurate picture of America's successes and challenges in helping Iraq establish their democracy. In addition, media reports have failed to fully address the consequences of failing on our mission in Iraq, both for the American people and the people of Iraq. An independent commission or panel would help to correct these deficiencies.

Former Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird has recently spoken out on the importance of persevering in Iraq. The idea of an Iraq awash with foreign terrorists, deposed Baathists, and other criminals is truly chilling. Secretary Laird, who was a proponent of gradually withdrawing American troops from Vietnam, accurately notes that Iraq is not another Vietnam, but could become one if the United States removes support and withdraws from our commitment to the people of Iraq. I share Secretary Laird's opinion that your office must articulate a simple and direct message: "Just as Communism was a threat in the Cold War, so the spread of radical fundamentalist Islam is very real today." In Iraq, our troops are fighting to "preserve modern culture, Western democracy, the global economy, and all else that is threatened by the spread of barbarism in the name of religion." I encourage you to boldly take up this call.

Again, while your recent remarks on our efforts in Iraq are accurate and most welcome, I believe that all Americans would benefit from an objective assessment of our continuing successes in Iraq and the challenges our troops face there. I urge you to convene qualified, experienced, and non-partisan individuals to a commission or panel that would provide an important new perspective on what needs to be done to ensure our success in Iraq.

Thank you for your kind consideration of this request.

Sincerely,
Rick Santorum
United States Senate


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