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Public Statements

Iraq War Accountability and Lack of Oversight in The House

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Location: Washington, DC


Iraq War Accountability and Lack of Oversight in The House -- (House of Representatives - May 06, 2004)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Pallone) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I listened to my colleague who previously spoke, and I really do not understand why he says what he says. There is no reason why any Member of this House of Representatives should not speak the truth. The Iraq war is unwinnable, it has been a total failure, and if we recognize that fact, then we will not continue to make the same mistakes.

Now, that is not to suggest that there is not an exit strategy or a way of leaving Iraq that will not accomplish some goals and that will not perhaps make the situation for the Iraqis better. But for us to sit around here and suggest that somehow the conduct of this war by the President or the Vice President or the Secretary of Defense is helping the cause is simply not true, and we have to speak out and say that.

Since the very beginning, with its refusal to truly internationalize the war, the Bush administration has shown nothing but arrogance towards anyone outside its inner-circle, whether that be Congress or the international community; and, unfortunately, the administration is now paying the price and our U.S. troops in Iraq are paying with their lives.

There seems to be a sense from Republicans here in Congress that anyone who questions the actions of the Bush administration is not supporting our troops. But, Mr. Speaker, when are congressional Republicans going to realize that President Bush and Vice President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld simply cannot conduct this war, they do not know how?

How many more months should we sit by silently enduring the kind of month that we had in April? How many more months can we ignore the fact that the minuscule amount of international support we once had in Iraq continues to shrink? How many more months are we supposed to sit by silently and not question the Bush administration on why it did not develop a post-Saddam plan before going to war?

It is time that someone is held accountable in this administration, and it is time for the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, to resign.

Mr. Speaker, on the issue of Iraq, Republicans here in the House of Representatives stand by obediently, wrapping themselves in the American flag, but refusing to ever question any action taken by the Bush administration. Now with the unveiling of these deplorable pictures of abuse from Iraq, House Republicans once again obediently followed their leader, President Bush.

Today, House Democrats called on this House to oversee the Bush administration and investigate these awful abuses. In the other Chamber, Secretary Rumsfeld is scheduled to testify tomorrow on his role in the abuses committed by a few American interrogators. I would imagine my colleagues over in the other Chamber will ask Secretary Rumsfeld why he never mentioned these pictures during a visit to Capitol Hill last week, hours before they would appear on the CBS News Magazine.

I would imagine my colleagues over in the other Chamber will ask Secretary Rumsfeld why he never bothered to read the Taguba report, even though it had been on his desk for more than a month before these outrageous instances of abuse finally came to light on CBS news.

Mr. Speaker, these are valid questions; and they should not only be asked in the U.S. Senate. It is time congressional House Republicans take their oversight responsibilities seriously and call on Secretary Rumsfeld to come over here to the House and answer these questions.

Earlier this week, when the Republican majority leader, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. DeLay), was asked whether or not he called for an investigation into the abuse of prisoners in Iraq, the gentleman responded, "A full-fledged investigation, that is like saying we need hearings on every case of police brutality, and I do not think they are warranted."

Well, Mr. Speaker, for the majority leader to minimize the abuses committed in Iraq does nothing to help our troops in Iraq. The Congress must show the Arab world that it takes this issue seriously, so we can save the lives of American troops in the future.

Mr. Speaker, if we truly want to support our troops in combat, the U.S. House of Representatives must oversee actions of the Bush administration. Failing that, in my opinion, we are failing our troops.

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