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Public Statements

Hearing of the House Armed Services Committee - Transcript

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Federal News Service May 21, 2004 Friday
Copyright 2004 The Federal News Service, Inc.
Federal News Service

May 21, 2004 Friday

HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE

SUBJECT: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM

CHAIRED BY: REPRESENTATIVE DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA)

WITNESSES: GENERAL RICHARD MYERS, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF; GENERAL PETER SCHOOMAKER, ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF; AND GENERAL MICHAEL HAGEE, U.S. MARINE CORPS COMMANDANT

LOCATION: 2118 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.

BODY:

REP. HUNTER: (Sounds gavel.) The hearing will come to order. Our guests this morning are General Richard B. Myers, United States Air Force, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; General Peter J. Schoomaker, United States Army chief of staff of the Army; and General Michael W. Hagee, United States Marine Corps commandant of the Marine Corps.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

REP. JIM COOPER (D-TN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We support our troops and we support you gentlemen. It's your civilian bosses in the Pentagon I'm increasingly worried about. If you look at the front page of today's paper, you see a picture of Mr. Chalabi. You also see a picture of him seated right next to the first lady of the United States at this year's State of the Union message. You read the paper, and you see that the Defense Intelligence Agency has been paying him and his political party $335,000 a month for years. We've terminated those payments, apparently, a week ago.

But today we hear the news that someone ordered the raid of his headquarters, and ransacking, in Baghdad yesterday. There ware even allegations that he may have been an Iranian agent all the time; we don't know. The New York Times is saying that the defense minister-or the Interior minister in Iraq did not order the raid, and no one can determine who did.

But here we have a gentleman who is pictured in the paper with Secretary Wolfowitz; he's apparently very close to Vice President Cheney. This seems to be a substantial development in the war, when one of the most highly paid and trusted advisers may have deliberately misled our nation for months and years. And some of our officials may have swallowed it, hook, line and sinker.

To me, this is one of the most disturbing developments of the war. We don't have answers to this question.

General Myers has said that the Interior minister did order the raid.

GEN. MYERS: That's the information that I have.

REP. COOPER: Were there American present during the raid?

GEN. MYERS: The information I have is that it was ordered by the minister of Interior; that it was carried out by the Iraqi Police Service; that U.S. forces or coalition forces provided an outer cordon, so they weren't involved in the going into the facilities-I mean, an outer cordon away from the facilities; and that the evidence is now resident in an Iraqi court. And that's-that's the information that I've been told. I asked about that before we came over to make sure we had the latest information on that.

REP. COOPER: If this man was on the U.S. payroll until last week, what has changed in the last few days to make him the subject of a raid of this type?

GEN. MYERS: That I can't tell you. What I can tell you is that the organization that he is associated with has provided intelligence to our intelligence unit there in Baghdad that has saved soldiers' lives. So I know at least that part of it has been beneficial. I cannot comment on the rest. I just don't know.

REP. COOPER: Do you know who invited him to sit next to the first lady of the United States at this year's State of the Union message in January?

GEN. MYERS: I have no idea. I have no idea.

REP. COOPER: Has the overall intelligence that has been offered by Mr. Chalabi been accurate?

GEN. MYERS: As I've said, I can only say what has been said to me by the intelligence leadership in Baghdad that works for them, the Combined Joint Task Force 7, is that that intelligence was accurate and useful in many cases.

REP. COOPER: Many cases?

GEN. MYERS: Yeah.

REP. COOPER: Well, what has changed in the last few days to make this man almost subject to arrest?

GEN. MYERS: I really can't answer that.

REP. COOPER: You answered in response to Dr. Snyder-you gave some clarification on the statement that you have made in the past that I think has probably been misinterpreted when you said that there's no way we can lose militarily in Iraq, but there's no way that we can win either. If would care to further elaborate, because I think most of our troops need to hear their role is important and it's of extreme value.

GEN. MYERS: Oh, their role is extremely important. Their role is extremely important. We haven't lost a tactical fight we've been in in Iraq, for that matter Afghanistan. The troops are doing superb work. Their work is absolutely essential to success in Iraq.

At the same time, unless you have progress on the political front-if you don't have progress on the economic front, then it can't all be done by our U.S. forces and our friends and allies who are in there with us. And that's what we mean when we say, you know, we can't lose militarily, but we can't win it either.

No, our forces are doing a superb job-everything asked of them, by the way, and more. We have asked a great deal of our forces. We have asked young men and women to do things that you would never suspect, in helping set up, you know, municipal governments, to aid in that; to make judgments that you could never train anybody for, they have to do that with the values they carry forward from America into that country. And they're doing that.

REP. COOPER: We in Tennessee are particularly proud of General Petraeus and the outstanding service he has already rendered, and regret that the nation has to call on him again. But he is a remarkable individual.

GEN. MYERS: It's a big deal and-you bet. When somebody comes back that's served in Iraq for a long time, and to come back and then change command of his division, and then to go right back, that's a true public servant that has only one thing on his mind, and that is to try to make that situation better in Iraq. And he will, I think, be enormously successful.

REP. COOPER: Amen.

Thank you.

END

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