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Rep. Berman Opposes Permanent U.S. Military Bases in Iraq

Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Berman Opposes Permanent U.S. Military Bases in Iraq

Rep. Berman and 71 of his House colleagues wrote to key members of the Appropriations Committee urging them to support a provision in the defense spending bill that prohibits the establishment of permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq. While strongly opposed by the Bush Administration, this language was included in the final version of the legislation approved by Congress.

"We must make it clear to the Iraqi people - and the people of the broader Muslim world - that we don't have any desire to be a permanent occupation force," Berman said. "I was outraged that the Republican leadership stripped similar language out of last year's defense appropriations bill - despite the fact that it was approved by both the House and Senate - and I'm very pleased that it was included in this year's legislation."

The text of the letter is below:

September 19, 2006

The Honorable C.W. Bill Young The Honorable John Murtha
Chairman, Ranking Member,
Subcommittee on Defense Subcommittee on Defense
Committee on Appropriations Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C., 20515 Washington, D.C., 20515

Chairman Young and Ranking Member Murtha:

As you prepare for conference on the fiscal year 2007 (FY07) Department of Defense appropriations bill, we are writing to urge you to include in the final version, provisions prohibiting the establishment of permanent military bases in Iraq.

The House-passed Department of Defense Appropriations bill contains a provision that would ensure that no funds in the bill would be used to enter into a base agreement with the government of Iraq. The Senate-passed version of the bill contains a similar provision in Section 8109, which prohibits funds to establish permanent military bases in Iraq or to exercise control over the oil infrastructure or oil resources of Iraq. With both chambers including similar provisions in their respective defense appropriations bills, and the House demonstrating its overwhelming support by a vote of 376-50 in favor of retaining the language in its version, we request that some form of this language be included in the conference report. Furthermore, we appreciate your statements in support of the House provision during debate on June 20, 2006.

One area where policymakers and experts across the political spectrum agree is that the United States should make clear that it does not seek a permanent military presence in Iraq. A major factor fueling the insurgency in Iraq is the perception of many Iraqis that the United States has long term aims in their country. General George Casey has testified that gradually lowering the visibility of U.S. troops will remove one of the elements fueling the insurgency.

Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has testified that, "We have no desire to have our forces permanently in that country. We have no plans or no discussions under way to have permanent bases in that country." Congress should join the Administration in affirming this principal. Enacting the "no permanent bases" provision in the defense appropriations bill will send a clear signal to the Iraqi people that we fully support their efforts to establish democracy and exercise sovereignty. By making our intentions crystal clear, we would reassure the world that Iraqis will choose their own destinies.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of our request.

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