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Issue Position: Yvette Clarke Charges that Vice President Cheney Continues his Iraq Cover Up

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"Just like this Administration cherry-picked intelligence to build their case for war, Vice President Cheney today tried to cherry-pick the facts to paint a rosy picture that simply doesn't match the reality in Iraq," said Democratic Congressional candidate Yvette Clarke. "The American people can see the truth for themselves every day. We don't need more of the same permanent commitment to a failed strategy from this Administration. The American people know that we need to change course in Iraq, so 2006 can be a year of transition in which the Iraqi's truly take control of their country."

But the facts on the ground simply do not support Cheney's rhetoric. As American troops begin their fourth year in Iraq with the largest air assault since the invasion, the country is slipping into civil war and basic services aren't being provided to the Iraqi people. As Democratic Congressman Jack Murtha noted on Meet the Press, Iraqis have electricity just 10 hours a day, only 30 percent of Iraqis have clean water, and 40 percent of Iraqis are unemployed. [Meet the Press, 3/19/06]

The following is a fact sheet from DNC Research on Vice President Cheney's irrational exuberance on Iraq:

Cheney's Irrational Exuberance

CHENEY: I don't [agree that Iraq is in a civil war], Bob. I think the assessment that we get from General George Casey who is our man commanding in Iraq, from the Ambassador...from John Abizaid who is the General in charge of Central Command doesn't square with that. [Face The Nation, 3/19/06]

Former Iraqi Interim Prime Minister Said Iraq Was In Civil War. Iyad Allawi former Interim Iraqi Prime Minister and leader of the Iraqi National List, a secular nationalist party made up of Sunnis and Shiites, said that Iraq was already in a civil war. Allawi said, "It is unfortunate that we are in civil war. We are losing each day as an average 50 to 60 people throughout the country, if not more. If this is not civil war, then God knows what civil war is." [BBC, 3/19/06]

Experts Say Iraq Has Been In A Civil War Since 2004. "'By the standard that political scientists use, there's been a civil war going on in Iraq since sovereignty was handed over to the interim government in 2004,' said Stanford University's James Fearon...American military analyst Stephen Biddle says U.S. policy-makers make a mistake if they 'miss the nature of the conflict, which in Iraq is already a civil war between rival ethnic and sectarian groups.'" [AP, 3/15/06; Los Angeles Times, 2/25/06; Washington Times, 3/15/06]

CIA: Iraq Is Insurgency's Most Effective Training Camp. A new classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat. [New York Times, 6/22/05]

Iraqi Police Are Infiltrated By Criminals, Religious and Ethnic Militia. "Religious and ethnic militias and criminal organizations have infiltrated police in some areas, further undermining the fledgling force's effectiveness and credibility. Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority has accused some units of the Shiite Muslim-dominated force of kidnapping, torturing and murdering Sunnis." Sectarian militias replaced Iraqi government forces in some areas after one of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines was bombed. In other areas, Shiite militiamen or members of Sunni insurgent groups have infiltrated police and military units. [The Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/6/06; Knight Ridder, 2/24/06]

Iraqi Police Hobbled By Corruption. General George Casey said the command has declared 2006 as the "year of the police," a tacit acknowledgment that the more than 80,000-strong Iraqi force has been hobbled by incompetence, corruption, sectarianism and low morale. [AP, 2/8/06]

We Can't Even Get Straight Answers About How Many Trained Iraqi Troops There Are. The Bush Administration's estimates of how many Iraqi troops have been trained continue to change:

* February 2004: Rumsfeld says the number of Iraqis serving in the security forces was over 210,000, and that the number may grow to over 226,000 by April. [State Department, 2/24/04]

* September 2004: Rumsfeld says the "latest number, last week was 105,000. Now it looks to be 95,000 - that is to say which are trained and equipped." [DOD Briefing, 9/7/04]

* February 2005: Rumsfeld says "...the fact of the matter is that there are 130,200 who have been trained and equipped...That's a fact. And how do I know that? I know it because General Petraeus counts them." [Fox News, 2/1/05]

* June 2005: Rumsfeld says the" fact of the matter is the number's [of trained troops is] 168,000." [ABC News, 6/26/05]

* July 2005: General Casey told Congress that only three of the approximately 100 Iraqi army battalions are taking on the insurgents by themselves. Three battalions are approximately 700 soldiers. [Associated Press, 7/22/05; Knight Ridder, 11/30/05]

* November 2005: President Bush says, "40 Iraqi battalions are taking the lead in the fight." He said a battalion is typically comprised of "between 350 and 800 Iraqi forces," which would bring the latest estimate of fully trained Iraqi troops to somewhere between 14,000 and 32,000. [Bush Speech in Annapolis, 11/30/05]

* December 2005: When asked how many Iraqi troops were now able to stand alone without the backing of U.S. troops, President Bush said there were "about 200,000-plus capable" forces. He continued by saying that "Now, not all of them are ready to take the fight to the enemy." [Bush Speech, 12/12/05]

* March 2006: President Bush says, "60 Iraqi battalions are taking the lead in the fight." He previously said a battalion is typically comprised of "between 350 and 800 Iraqi forces," which would bring the latest estimate of fully trained Iraqi troops to somewhere between 21,000 and 48,000. [Bush Speech, 3/13/06]

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