Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2007 - Continued

Location: Washington, DC

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2007--Continued -- (Senate - September 05, 2006)


Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, I have not had a chance to see the amendment of the Senator from Virginia that deals with head injuries. There is also an amendment, I believe, from the Senator from Illinois, Mr. Durbin, on this subject as well. It is a matter of enormous importance and consequence. Hopefully, our committees will take action to deal with it at an appropriate time.

Mr. President, next week marks the fifth anniversary of the vicious attack on America by al-Qaida terrorists.

Despite the passage of time, Americans still vividly recall with enormous pain and sorrow that dark and somber day. We recall the nearly 3,000 Americans who were killed by al-Qaida terrorists. We recall the brave firefighters and first responders who sacrificed their lives so that others could live. We recall the twin towers crumbling before our eyes, and the Pentagon ablaze beneath a plume of smoke. And we recall the pledge by the administration and all Americans that this type of attack will never, ever occur again.

As we approach this anniversary, there is little doubt that the President will, once again, resort to the politics of fear in an effort to convince the American people that the Iraq war is central to the Global War on Terror.

Nothing is further from the truth. Scare tactics may have worked in the elections of 2002 and 2004, but this time, the American people know better.

The American people know that the war in Iraq was a distraction from the real Global War on Terror and that Iraq had nothing to do with al-Qaida.

The American people know that America should have kept its eye on the ball and captured Osama bin Laden--rather than rushing headlong into a war that we did not need to fight.

The American people know that the administration should have implemented fully the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission to protect our ports and support our first responders--rather than spending more than $200 million each day on a failed policy in Iraq.

The American people know that the war in Iraq has made Americans more hated in the world, created more terrorists, and made it harder to win the real Global War on Terror.

The American people know that while we have been bogged down in Iraq, North Korea's nuclear stockpile has quadrupled and Iran has continued its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The American people know that we never should have gone to war in Iraq when we did, and for the false reasons we were given.

Most importantly, the American people know that the President's stubborn insistence that we ``stay the course'' does not make victory any more likely and that we need to change our policy in Iraq.

At almost every stage of the Bush administration's conduct of the war in Iraq, we have seen major miscalculations and serious mistakes that place our troops at greater risk and jeopardize America's standing in the world.

Military leaders and retired generals know it. Middle East experts know it. Our allies know it. Both Democrats and Republicans in Congress know it. And most important, the American people know it.

They saw it when the Bush team disbanded the Iraqi Army after the fall of Saddam but allowed thousands to walk away with their weapons.

They saw it when the Bush administration waited a full year to begin training the new Iraqi security forces.

They saw it when the White House failed to see the insurgency spreading like a cancer through Iraq.

They saw it when the Bush team failed to see the danger of roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices yet sent our troops on patrol day after day, month after month, year after year.

They saw it when the White House failed to provide proper armor for our troops, until Congress finally demanded it.

Unfortunately, the administration's repeated failure to see each new threat in Iraq has put our troops and our security in greater peril.

Today, once again, the administration refuses to recognize another seismic shift in Iraq--the dangerous prospect that we are drawn into a deadly and divisive civil war.

While the President and DICK CHENEY and Donald Rumsfeld are on the campaign trail claiming progress in Iraq, military leaders and experts are urging the White House to heed the disturbing warning signs in Iraq.

The President and his cabinet may not believe the fears of civil war are justified, but some of our military leaders do. General Rick Sanchez, former commander of the multi-national forces in Iraq, said as long ago as January 7, ``The country's on the verge of a civil war.'' General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on March 13 that, ``Everything is in place if they want to have a civil war.''

Our Ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, is concerned about the threat as well. On March 7, he said, ``The potential is there'' for sectarian violence to become civil war. ``We have opened the Pandora's box and the question is, what is the way forward?''

General Abizaid acknowledged the clear danger when he told the Senate Armed Services Committee on August 3, ``I believe that the sectarian violence is probably as bad as I've seen it, in Baghdad in particular, and that if not stopped, it is possible that Iraq could move towards civil war.''

General Pace, at the same hearing, agreed about the threat of civil war. He said, ``I believe that we do have the possibility of devolving to a civil war, but that does not have to be a fact.''

Others think that a civil war may have already begun. Former Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi said in March that Iraq is probably in ``an early stage of civil war.''

The British Ambassador to Iraq wrote in August, ``The prospect of a low intensity civil war and a de facto division of Iraq is probably more likely at this stage than a successful and substantial transition to a stable democracy.

Our colleague from Nebraska, Senator CHUCK HAGEL, concurred, saying, in August that ``We, in fact, are in probably a low grade, maybe a very defined, civil war.''

General William Nash, who commanded our troops in Bosnia after that country's civil war ended, stated on March 5, ``We're in a civil war now; it's just that not everybody's joined in.'' He said, ``The failure to understand that the civil war is already taking place, just not necessarily at the maximum level, means that our counter measures are inadequate and therefore dangerous to our long-term interest.''

These leaders see what's really happening in Iraq--not just the White House spin.

They know that the polarization of communities along sectarian lines is increasing. In fact, 80 percent of the Iraqi people voted along sectarian lines in the recent elections.

Civilian casualties as a result of sectarian violence have skyrocketed. According to the United Nations, 5,800 civilians were killed during May and June of this year and another 5,800 were wounded. An estimated 100 people a day were killed in Baghdad in July. Militia attacks continue unabated. The Shiite militia forces are growing in strength. The widespread infiltration of government security forces by those whose principal loyalty is to their sectarian militias, not the government, is well documented. Interior ministry detention centers have been used to torture inmates just because they are Sunnis. Too often we hear that men wearing Interior ministry uniforms have abducted Sunni men and boys, who later turn up dead.

The numbers of civilians displaced or fleeing the violence is increasing as Shiites are forced from Sunni areas and Sunnis from Shiite areas. According to the United Nations, approximately 150,000 Iraqis had been displaced as of June.

Despite these trends and the warnings of the experts, President Bush stubbornly continues to deny that civil war is even a real possibility in Iraq.

Last December, he said, ``I know some fear the possibility that Iraq could break apart and fall into a civil war. I don't believe these fears are justified.''

The President reiterated the same view on February 28 when he said, ``I don't buy your premise that there's going to be a civil war.''

Again in March, President Bush dismissed the notion, saying, ``They know that they lack the military strength to challenge Iraqi and coalition forces directly--so their only hope is to try and provoke a civil war ..... By their response over the past two weeks, Iraqis have shown the world they want a future of freedom and peace--and they will oppose a violent minority that seeks to take that future away from them by tearing their country apart.''

In August, President Bush still denied that there was a civil war. He said, ``You know, I hear people say, well, civil war this, civil war that The Iraqi people decided against civil war when they went to the ballot box.'' Again, on August 21, he said, ``You know, I hear a lot of talk about civil war. I'm concerned about that, of course. And I've talked to a lot of people about it. And what I've found from my talks are that the Iraqis want a unified country and that the Iraqi leadership is determined to thwart the efforts of the extremists and the radicals and al Qaida and that the security forces remain united behind the government.''

For a third time, on August 31, the President denied the possibility of civil war. He said, ``This cruelty and carnage has led some to question whether Iraq has descended into civil war. Our commanders and our diplomats on the ground in Iraq believe that's not the case. They report that only a small number of Iraqis are engaged in sectarian violence, while the overwhelming majority want peace and a normal life in a unified country.''

I just wish the President would take a little time to read this report that was put out by the Department of Defense, on Stability and Security in Iraq.

I come back to that in a few moments.

Vice President CHENEY, too, has long denied the possibility of civil war. On March 19, he stated, ``What we've seen is a serious effort by them to foment civil war, but I don't think they've been successful.''

Secretary Rumsfeld dismisses it as well. In March he said, ``I do not believe they are in a civil war.''

That same month, Secretary Rumsfeld said, ``The terrorists are determined to stoke sectarian tension and are attempting to spark a civil war. But despite the many acts of violence and provocation, the vast majority of Iraqis have shown that they want their country to remain whole and free of ethnic conflict.''

In April, he said, ``I don't think a full-fledged civil war will take hold of the country.''

In May, in an eerie echo of the past, when asked what political and military contingences would be in place if a civil war occurred, Secretary Rumsfeld responded, ``I don't think the scenario that you have described is going to happen, but life's filled with things you don't think are going to happen.''

That's vintage Rumsfeld. ``Stuff happens,'' he said, in response to the chaos that erupted in Baghdad after the first days of the invasion, as though no one could have anticipated such a possibility and it made no sense to waste time planning for such possibilities. That attitude has plagued our forces and our country throughout this misguided war, and it must stop.

This, July, as the situation took another turn for the worse, he said, ``There certainly has been an upsurge in sectarian violence; there's no question but that they're trying to incite a civil war. And they have been for a long time, and they have failed so far.''

Secretary Rice also refuses to see the possibility of civil war in Iraq. In February, she said, ``I don't think there is a brewing civil war in Iraq.'' Despite the escalating casualties and increasing sectarian violence, on August 4 she said, ``I don't think Iraq is going to slide into civil war.'' Two days later she repeated the claim and said, ``But the important point here is that Iraqis haven't made a choice for civil war. Iraqis have made a choice for a unified government that can deliver for all Iraqis. And when I say Iraqis, I mean not just their leadership, which clearly has not made a choice for civil war, but their population.''

On the same day she again denied the possibility of civil war, stating, ``It would be really erroneous to say that the Iraqis are somehow making a choice for civil war, or I think even sliding into civil war.''

That's what the Bush team is claiming. They are so focused on the spin war on the campaign trail that they fail to see the real war in Iraq. They are so focused on using the war to win elections here at home that they fail to see the real needs of our troops in Iraq.

But this time, the American people aren't buying it. They've heard it all before and are demanding honest assessments and realistic strategies. They know that the President and DICK CHENEY and Donald Rumsfeld can say it's not a civil war, but that doesn't make it so. They know that our brave men and women in uniform are doing everything they can to bring peace and stability in Iraq. They continue to fight insurgents and terrorists, but are at grave risk of being trapped in the middle of an unwinnable civil war.

That is why I am offering this amendment today with the Democratic leader. It requires the administration through the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State to provide an honest and candid assessment of the extent to which Iraq is now in a state of civil war. And even more important, the amendment requires them to say what we are going to do about it. How are we going to advance America's interests in Iraq in a time of civil war? How are we going to protect our troops from getting drawn ever deeper into an endless sectarian conflict?

An article in Newsweek magazine on August 14 indicates that although the Bush administration insists that Iraq is a long way from civil war, some inside the White House and the Pentagon have begun some contingency planning.

The administration should level with the American people about the real conditions and their planning.

And that's the purpose of our amendment today.

The amendment requires the Secretary of Defense, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to determine every 3 months whether a civil war is taking place and to inform Congress of the plan for our troops in the event of such a war.

For each determination, the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State will provide their assessment of the levels of sectarian violence such as the level of polarization of communities along sectarian lines and an estimate of civilian casualties as a result of the violence; the number of civilians displaced by the violence; the degree to which Iraqi government forces exercise effective control over major urban areas; the extent to which militias have been mobilized, are providing security, and attacking other Iraqis; and the extent to which the Government of Iraq has obtained a credible commitment from the political parties to disarm and disband the militias and are implementing a credible plan to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate militias into government security forces.

If the administration determines that Iraq is not in a civil war, the amendment requires a description of the efforts by our government to avoid civil war in Iraq, a plan to protect our troops in the event of a civil war, and a strategy to ensure that our troops don't take sides.

If the determination is that Iraq is in a civil war, the amendment requires the Secretary of Defense to explain the mission of our troops and its duration, his plan to protect our troops, and a strategy to ensure that they don't take sides in a civil war.

The amendment is needed to ensure proper planning in the event of civil war.

The trends in Iraq are discouraging and certainly point toward civil war.

Indeed, the September 1 report prepared by the Department of Defense on Stability and Security in Iraq reaffirms what the American people already understand: the conditions of civil war exist, violence in Iraq is spiraling out of control and staying the course is not a viable option.

The Department of Defense report says that concern about civil war within the Iraqi civilian population and among some defense analysts has increased in recent months. Conditions that could lead to civil war exist in Iraq;

Rising sectarian strife defines the emerging nature of violence in mid-2006;

Sustained ethnic and sectarian violence is the greatest threat to security and stability in Iraq;

Sectarian tensions increased over the last three months, demonstrated by the increasing number of executions, kidnappings, attacks on civilians, and internally displaced persons;

Civilian casualties increased by approximately 1000 per month since the previous quarter. Assassinations in particular reached new highs in the month of July. The Baghdad Coroner's Office reported 1600 bodies arrived in June and more than 1800 bodies in July, 90 percent of which were assessed to be the result of executions;

Sectarian violence is gradually spreading north into Diyala Province and Kirkuk as Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish groups compete for provincial influencey;

Both Shia and Sunni death squads are active in Iraq, and are responsible for the most significant increases in sectarian violence;

Militias and small, illegally armed groups operate openly and often with popular support. The threat posed by Shiite illegal armed groups, filling perceived and actual security vacuums, is growing;

The security situation is currently at its most complex state since the initiation of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Overall attack levels are higher than the last three months. The average number of weekly attacks increased 15 percent and Iraqi casualties increased by 51 percent compared.

These facts are at odds with the administration's statements about civil war. Sectarian divisions are increasing. Mlilitia violence and death squad activity are increasing. The number of Iraqis fleeing the violence is increasing. Yet, the President continues to deny the possibility of civil war. The Vice President, Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State continue to deny it. As long as the administration continues to deny the plain truth, America will be behind the curve and unable to adjust to the current realities on the ground and protect our troops.

Instead of attacking those who want to change our course, President Bush ought to deal with the hard cold facts. This Defense Department report underscores the fundamental truth that our brave troops are being let down by an administration more interested in political spin than in finding a way to succeed.

The administration needs to look at all the facts and honestly address the question of civil war for the sake of our military and the American people.

This legislation creates a continuing obligation to ensure that analysis on civil war is done regularly. Unfortunately, this is necessary, because the Congress has forced the administration to step up to the plate on Iraq time and again.

The facts in the report say one thing about civil war, but the conclusion about civil war says another. We need an honest assessment from the Secretaries of Defense and State about the conditions on the ground, and that is what the Kennedy-Reid amendment would require. We also need some hard thinking within the administration and a clear plan to protect our troops in a civil war.

At every step of the way, this administration has missed the threat to our troops, and Democrats in Congress have had to force the issue.

The Democrats in Congress have had to force the issue:

We had to require accounting of progress being made to train Iraqi troops so our soldiers can begin to come home.

We provided over $1 billion in additional funding for vehicle armor to upgrade the armor on Humvees.

We are demanding an updated National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq because the administration has failed to provide one in more than 2 years.

We provided more than $175 million for democracy programs in Iraq when the Bush administration's budget did not provide it.

We need an honest accounting of the situation so we can adjust accordingly and protect our troops. And we need a plan to protect our troops. The President's stubborn insistence on staying the course impedes success.

Our soldiers and the American people deserve more from the administration. Together, the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State need to set the White House's political agenda aside and directly and thoughtfully address this ominous threat.

The administration acts as if the mere discussion of civil war is defeatist. They have it exactly backwards. This amendment is an effort to make sure that the administration confronts and deals with the facts on the ground in Iraq and recognizes the emerging threat before it consumes our troops.

This is the only way to achieve any measure of success. For too long, the Bush administration has pursued policies that have failed utterly to carry the day in Iraq and have made America less safe.

Unfortunately, this administration has decided that domestic politics require that it stay this failed course through November, and so they have refused to confront the facts in Iraq. Instead, they have chosen political spin, false claims of progress, and baseless attacks on those who focus on the reality of the situation.

We must do better. This administration owes it to the American people. Even more importantly, dealing with reality is essential and necessary to protect the lives of our brave soldiers.

Iraq's future and the lives of our troops are close to the precipice of a new disaster. The time bomb of civil war is ticking, and our most urgent priority is to defuse it.

Our Government should work to reverse the downward spiral. And Iraqi leaders must make essential compromises to strengthen their government, prevent civil war, undermine the insurgency, and deal with the festering problem of militias.

For the sake of our men and women in uniform and the stability of Iraq, all Americans are anxious for success, but we need to be realistic enough and smart enough and humble enough to understand that even our best efforts may not prevent a civil war from overtaking events in Iraq.

We need to begin planning now for this possibility. That's what this amendment requires.

Such planning is not an admission of defeat. It is essential and necessary for protecting the lives of our service men and women in Iraq, who are performing so admirably today under such enormously difficult circumstances.

Mr. President, I will not include this whole report in the Record--it is 63 pages--but I will reference it.

Mr. STEVENS. I made arrangements to put a copy of the report on every Senator's desk by tomorrow morning.

Mr. KENNEDY. I appreciate that. During the course of the week, individuals may quote from it, as I did earlier today and may again. I will not ask that it be printed in the RECORD, but it should be available for anyone concerned about the debate on Iraq. It is an enormously important document and is a ``must read'' for every Member of Congress--certainly for the American people--to have a real understanding of what we are facing in that country.


Mr. KENNEDY. Will the Senator yield for a question?

Mr. STEVENS. I am happy to do that, yes.

Mr. KENNEDY. In my remarks, I said we ought to have kept our eye on the ball, which was al-Qaida and the terrorists, and not gone into Iraq.

As the President of the United States knows, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. As the 9/11 Commission reported, there was no connection between Iraq and al-Qaida's attack on this country.

So we have a rush to war. Instead of focusing on the problems of al-Qaida, North Korea and Iran, we are now mired in a war in Iraq.

The Senator is making my point. We should have focused on the dangers of Iraq. That is a completely different situation than in Korea when the Chinese Communists crossed the river. There was a real issue in terms of our national security. The case has was not made that Iraq posed a threat to our national interest or security. That case was not made in the Senate. And the arguments that were made were inaccurate.

Mr. STEVENS. I still have the floor.

Mr. KENNEDY. All right.


Mr. KENNEDY. Will the Senator yield for a question?

Will the Senator from Virginia just yield for a question?

Mr. ALLEN. I would be pleased to yield.

Mr. STEVENS. Mr. President, I have the floor, for just a second, if I may. I would urge Senator Durbin, if he will, to join us. Again, it is a matter of expediting our bill. I know he has an amendment, too. But I believe the numbers are the same and the intent is the same, and we should all cosponsor it, as far as I am concerned.

I yield the floor.

Mr. KENNEDY. I was just asking the Senator how this is different from the Durbin amendment. I note the Senator was in the Chamber earlier. How is this amendment different? I was a cosponsor of his amendment.

Mr. ALLEN. I would have to look at the details. That is why I mentioned the Senator from Illinois, and I and others, I think, share the same concern. The main point, the main concern--which is making sure the professional services were there, the adequacy of the devices, the adequacy of the health care professionals--I think was actually fairly identical. I have not looked at the measure of the Senator from Illinois. It appears that we are going down the same stream, in the same direction.


Mr. KENNEDY. So you have accepted what was in the Durbin amendment; that is, that shall be spent?

Mr. ALLEN. The point is, my amendment was going to be $19 million regardless. And my view was, we needed added funding, and this will make it absolutely clear.

Mr. KENNEDY. I thank the Senator because I was a cosponsor. I did not pay close attention to the presentation, but I was a cosponsor of Senator Durbin's amendment, as I understand, as printed. And listening to the Senator from Virginia, it appears it is virtually identical to what the Senator from Illinois had proposed. I am glad we will have an opportunity to take action on it.

Mr. ALLEN. I would say, Mr. President, to the Senator from Massachusetts, this is an opportunity for all of us to come together in a bipartisan fashion. I know one of the occasions when I was at Walter Reed Hospital the Senator from Massachusetts was there at the same time. And we see the outstanding work the professionals provide for those men and women who have been injured.


Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Back to top