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Public Statements

Change of Vote

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

CHANGE OF VOTE -- (Senate - September 20, 2007)


Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, it has been more than a week since the junior Senator from Texas offered an amendment condemning an ad by that appeared last Monday in the New York Times.

The ad was, by any standard--by any standard--abhorrent. It accused a four-star general, who has the trust and respect of 160,000 men and women in Iraq, of betraying that mission and those troops, of lying to them and to us.

Who would have ever expected anybody would go after a general in the field at a time of war, launch a smear campaign against a man we have entrusted with our mission in Iraq?

Any group that does this sort of thing ought to be condemned.

Let's take sides: General Petraeus or Which one are we going to believe? Which one are we going to condemn? That is the choice.

MoveOn says he is a traitor. If we believe that, we should condemn him. If we do not believe that, then we ought to be condemning them, not him.

Now, here is what we know about this group. I will bet you a lot of our Democratic colleagues do not know everything MoveOn is for. I think you probably know they try to come to your aid from time to time, but I bet you do not know everything they advocate.

In the days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, it urged--a pacifist response to al-Qaida.

They rejected the idea that governments should be held responsible for terrorists such as al-Qaida who operate within their borders.

This is the group that called defeating the PATRIOT Act ``a success story,'' the group that ran an ad on its Web site equating the President to Adolf Hitler, the group that thinks organizations such as the U.N. will rid the world of al-Qaida.

That is This is what we are dealing with. I cannot believe those are the views of a vast majority of my friends and colleagues on the other side of the aisle.

Now, what do we know about General Petraeus? Commander of the Multi-National Force-Iraq; been in Iraq for about 4 years; literally wrote the U.S. counter insurgency manual; commanded the 101st Airborne Division during the first year of Operation Iraqi Freedom; Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations of the NATO Stabilization Force and Deputy Commander of the U.S. Joint Interagency Counter-Terrorism Task Force in Bosnia; Assistant Division Commander for Operations of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg; West Point; aide to the Chief of Staff of the Army; battalion, brigade, and division operations officer; Assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander-Europe; Distinguished Service Medal; Defense Superior Service Medal; Legion of Merit; Bronze Medal for Valor; NATO Meritorious Service Medal; one of America's 25 Best Leaders, according to US News & World Report; and a four-star general of the Army.

That is what we know about General Petraeus.

Here is what our friends on the other side of the aisle said about General Petraeus when they confirmed him back in January.

The junior Senator from California called him ``an amazing man.''

The chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, the senior Senator from Delaware, said: ``I don't know anybody better than Petraeus.''

The senior Senator from Massachusetts said he is ``an outstanding military officer, and our soldiers really deserve the best, and I think they're getting it with your service,'' referring to General Petraeus.

The chairman of the Armed Services Committee, the senior Senator from Michigan, said: ``General Petraeus is widely recognized for the depth and breadth of his education, training, and operational experience.''

They praised him up and down in January, confirmed him unanimously, funded his mission, and sent him the troops.

So now is the time to be heard. Is it right to call General Petraeus a traitor or not? That is what this vote is about. Is it right to call General Petraeus a traitor or not?

This group,, is crowing all over the papers. They say they have my colleagues on the other side of the aisle on a leash. They brag about it. Their executive director has said, referring to the party on the other side of the aisle, they are ``Our party.'' says: ``we bought it, we own it, and we're going to take it back.'' That is saying that about our friends on the other side of the aisle.

They claim to be in constant contact with people on the other side of the aisle. I do not believe this group is telling all these great Senators on the other side of the aisle what to do. I do not believe that. This is an opportunity to demonstrate it.

So this amendment gives our colleagues a chance to distance themselves from these despicable tactics, distance themselves from the notion that some group literally has them on a leash, akin to a puppet on a string.

It is time to take a stand--not to dredge up political battles of the past but to condemn this ad.

What about this ad should not be condemned? Is there anything about this ad that should not be condemned?

I urge my colleagues to stand with General Petraeus and against this ad.

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