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Official Truth Squad

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Location: Washington, DC


OFFICIAL TRUTH SQUAD -- (House of Representatives - February 16, 2006)

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Mrs. BLACKBURN. Thank you so much. I thank the gentleman from Georgia for his exceptional work on the Truth Squad and his commitment to this, to being certain that we get the message out.

You know, I, like you, believe in the American dream and believe in the goodness of this great country and search each and every day for ways that we can all work together to be certain that we preserve freedom and hope and liberty for future generations. I think that is a worthy goal.

We had talked about national security one night on this floor. Yesterday, we talked about economic security. Today, we are back on the national security focus. I like what you are saying, because you are addressing the military efforts that are taking place so that we are fighting terrorists over there and we are not having to fight them over here.

As Judge POE was saying, we have got different fronts in this war, with our first responders and the work they do on our home streets, with our border agents and the work they are doing along the border, and then also with our military operations. I think it is something that we want to keep our focus on as we address this situation in the Middle East and being certain we are addressing taking this fight to the heart of where terrorism has had its breeding ground and addressing it right there on their own soil.

A couple of points, too, I think that we need address as we talk about homeland security and we talk about national security and the war on terror. Things that we want to remember is our President and the leadership, our military leadership, has told us from day one, this is going to be a very long war. It is not going to be easy. But this is going to be a long war, and we need to remember that and use that to keep it in perspective.

We feel like we take two steps forward and one step back so very, very often, and it is going to be a long time. But preserving freedom and the fight for freedom, that is a worthy, worthy goal.

I think another thing we need to keep in mind is that when all of this started in 2003, our President and our military leadership said, basically, it is a seven-step process and told us at that point we would go in, secure the country, they would appoint an interim government, they would appoint a constitution writing committee, they would go through the process of writing that constitution, ratifying that constitution, then they would hold their national elections and install their national government, and then the seventh and final point will be to dissolve the coalition.

Right now, the Iraqi people are in the process of installing that government; and following that government standing up on its feet, then we will begin to dissolve the coalition.

Another thing we have to keep in mind, I love your points, Mr. Price, about what is taking place there and the progress that is being made. One of the things that I have enjoyed talking with my constituents about is how dealing with Iraq has to be an orderly process, and a part of that orderly process is being certain that we do some things in conjunction with other things. We want to be certain we raise up the military at the same time we are raising up the government so that one can support the other.

Mr. PRICE of Georgia. Mr. Speaker, I want to make certain that people are hearing what you are saying. Because so oftentimes we hear there is no plan, the President doesn't have a plan, we don't have a plan. But what you have said so clearly is that when the President talked about this in the spring of 2003, 3 years ago, that he outlined a seven-step process. As far as I can tell, we are on the sixth step of that. So the plan is there.

Mrs. BLACKBURN. That is correct, and I thank the gentleman for those comments. That is correct. Going through an orderly process. And now as that government is standing up, and that is the sixth step, and as we move forward, we look at being certain that the military operations and your government operations, and you need that infrastructure. We know in our own Nation it has worked well to have divisions in our government with your executive and legislative and judicial branches. So as we stand the military up and the government with those different branches standing up, we also have an eye on education and what is being done to help lift the people.

We forget many times that many of these individuals did not have access to an education. When I first went into Iraq in October of 2003, one of the things that stunned me and one of the facts that I was really quite amazed to learn was that the country's population was about 65 percent female and, out of that, about 70 percent of that female population was considered to be illiterate. That is so troublesome to know, with the education process for women, the education process for children, the fact that young girls are able to go to school, and putting in place the schools, I think it is 2,800 schools that our U.S. military has helped to rehabilitate and get the doors open. And, of course, USAID has supplied notebooks and backpacks and the things that are necessary to begin to put that quality of life in place.

So it is the ability to go in and assist with those processes and the functions of the military, the government and the community, the quality of life that will enable Iraq to stand up and to stand on their own two feet and to enjoy, enjoy successes, and that is what General Pace was speaking of, with their forces actually conducting more operations than the coalition forces. I think that is really quite remarkable.

You think of how far they have come in 3 1/2 years. To us, many times, yes, we live in a world where we expect instant everything. We watch a 30-minute TV show or a one-hour TV show, and we want the problem solved within that period of time.

Freedom is a little bit harder. It doesn't move quite that quickly. Three-and-a-half years, look how far they have come in their steps to freedom and their steps to readiness.

I will close with saying my last trip into Iraq over New Year's this year and spending time with some of our troops and then spending time with three women who are each one running a different woman's organization in Iraq was a very touching time. One of the things they repeatedly do is to express thanks to our coalition forces and then to place a reminder with us, don't leave us now. Do not leave us now. Be certain that we are standing on our own two feet before you leave us.

I thank the gentleman again. The freshman class is doing a wonderful job with the Truth Squad. It is always a pleasure to come and stand here in this wonderful hall before this great body and join you in talking about the good work that is being done and the focus of this Republican Conference to address the security of this great Nation.

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