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Public Statements

Letter to President of the United States of America George W. Bush

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Letter to President of the United States of America George W. Bush

Dear President Bush:

On April 16th, the Chicago Tribune reported that the Department of Defense is providing millions of dollars in arms and ammunition to Iraqi police units without safeguards in place to ensure compliance with U.S. laws that ban taxpayer-financed assistance for foreign security forces engaged in human-rights violations.

The American laws, known as the "Leahy Amendments," (Sec. 556 of Public Law No: 107-115 and Sec. 8080 of Public Law No: 107-248) prohibit U.S. military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity. The laws were enacted after disclosures in the 1990s of abuses by U.S.-supported forces in Latin America. Unfortunately, a recent U.S. State Department review has revealed that U.S. officials have not tracked the arms they distribute nationwide to local Iraqi police nor have they vetted the units receiving those weapons to make sure they have not committed human-rights violations.

Recent reports from Iraq have demonstrated that some Iraqi security forces may be guilty of human rights abuses. While it is critical that we train and arm Iraqi security forces at a rapid pace, it is essential that it is done in a way which provides for transparency and accountability. Such safeguards are not only important for the citizens of Iraq and American taxpayers, but they are also necessary to protect our troops in the field.

Mr. President, we are writing to ask that you report to Congress regarding what your Administration is doing to enforce the Leahy Amendments. Specifically, we would like to know what steps the Defense Department is taking to ensure that it is not violating any laws in its attempt to equip and train Iraqi security forces. We would also like to know what procedures are in place, and how they are being implemented, to vet Iraqi security forces before they receive U.S. military assistance. Finally, we would like to verify that the Defense Department and the State Department are cooperating to coordinate this vetting effort.

Mr. President, like you, we do not want to see our brave American troops in Iraq any longer than they are needed. The training and equipping of Iraqi security forces is an essential part of our mission in the theatre, and we hope that it is being done legally, appropriately, and swiftly. This effort is critical for the national security of the United States and our allies, and most importantly, our troops on the ground in Iraq. We hope to receive your response as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

U.S. Representatives
Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)
Major Owens (D-NY)
James Moran (D-VA)
Donald Payne (D-NJ)
Diane Watson (D-CA)
Jim McDermott (D-WA)
James McGovern (D-MA)
Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Carolyn Maloney (D-NY)
Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)
Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Maurice Hinchey (D-NY)
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
Chaka Fattah (D-PA)
Peter DeFazio (D-OR)

http://www.house.gov/schakowsky/PressRelease_5_18_06_HumanRightsIraq.html

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