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Iraq Exit Strategy; Time to Face the Truth About Iraq

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Message Lois Herr

My name is Lois Herr, and I am a Democrat running for Congress in Pennsylvania's 16th District. Born and raised in Lancaster County, PA., I am a 10th generation descendent of Hans Herr, who emigrated to Pennsylvania in 1711 for religious freedom (see our website for more background). When we win I will become the first woman ever elected to Congress from this district, and the first Democrat. I will also have succeeded in ridding the Congress of Representative Joe Pitts, a 5-term GOP incumbent (who is breaking an old vow not to serve more than five terms) and blind supporter of President Bush and his policies. Pitts votes with President Bush 91% of the time, and he votes the GOP party line 97% of the time. Pitts has rubber-stamped the Patriot Act, illegal wiretapping of American citizens, and the President's use of signing statements to evade his responsibility to enforce laws passed by Congress. He has offered unflinching support for the war in Iraq, and has consistently voted for a ballooning federal deficit. As head of the GOP Values Action Team and Congressional point man in the war against contraception, Pitts' mission is to write into law a particular brand of morality, displacing conscience and the Church with the State as arbiter of religious belief in this country.

Pennsylvania's 16th District is changing. Five Democrats swept five Republicans out of office in Lancaster City elections last November, decisively defeating a two-term incumbent Mayor in the process. And this past May, Democrat Andy Dinniman easily won a State Senate special election in the 19th District, which had never before elected a Democrat, and where registered Republicans out-number registerd Democrats by a nearly two-to-one margin (the 19th Senate District lies within the sixteenth Congressional District). The desire for change will make this the year for a Democrat to represent the sixteenth district in Congress.

I am determined to bring the Bush Administration and its enablers to account, and I challenge my opponent in this race to accept the League of Women Voters' invitation to debate (a challenge he has thus far ignored). I have a strong and varied background in business, agriculture, education, and public service. I have been endorsed by, among others, the AFL-CIO, Communications Workers of America, the National Education Association, N.O.W., Planned Parenthood, National Women's Political Caucus, Women's Campaign Fund, Greater Reading PAC, Governor Ed Rendell, Senate candidate Bob Casey Jr. and former Senate candidate Chuck Pennacchio, Democracy for Lancaster, and other DFA affiliates. Below is my position paper outlining where I stand on the war in Iraq.


By Lois Herr, Democratic candidate for Congress in the Sixteenth District of Pennsylvania.

The War in Iraq has cost Pennsylvanians dearly in blood and money. At least 126 of our men and women in uniform have lost their lives so far, and unknown numbers have been wounded physically and damaged psychologically. The Department of Defense has been spending our tax dollars at the rate of $6.4 billion per month on Iraq operations at a time of record federal deficits. Yet the current representative, ultraconservative Joseph R. Pitts, continues to vocally support "staying the course" in Iraq; voting recently for a bill promoting "continued resolve" there.

I have a different view. I believe the time has come to face the truth about where we are. No partisan rhetoric, no rose-tinted glasses, and no spin.

As the nation now knows, this White House did not plan effectively for the post-invasion aftermath. In fact, President Bush and his advisers did very little war planning at all. Instead, they cherry-picked intelligence, undermined the work of U.N. weapons inspectors, misled the nation about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, and stiff-armed our allies in a headlong rush to war. In doing so, they diverted the nation's resources from our true enemy al Qaeda, and created a breeding ground for terrorists where none existed before.

Today, our military is stretched to the breaking point, caught in a complicated conflict between insurgents, militias, and Iraqi security forces. And despite the best intentions and valiant work of our armed forces, our presence in Iraq is creating deep suspicion and resentment toward America. (Even General Brent Scowcroft, the national security advisor to President George H. W. Bush, has said that the Iraq war is "feeding" terrorism.) Most Iraqis want us to leave, and most Americans want to bring our soldiers home.

It is time to bring them home. We must change our policy and change our course. With a top-level commitment to bring our troops home, the logistics can be worked out very quickly by our quite capable military leaders, and experienced and respected diplomats can once again be charged with the rightful task of international negotiation. Withdrawing from Iraq involves the complicated task of bringing personnel home safely and recovering weapons and materials. It would be irresponsible and financially foolish for us to allow our weapons to fall into the wrong hands.

While America must remove its military presence from Iraq, we still have a responsibility to aid the Iraqi people not just for their own future but also to avoid destabilizing the entire region and threatening our own national security interests. We must work with the international community to assist Iraq's newly formed government in ensuring that all the major parties-Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds-feel well represented, to refocus on providing training and technical assistance to Iraq's newly-forming ministries, and to seek international aid for reconstruction efforts.

Making progress requires that our leaders put aside partisan attacks and face the facts. America has made great sacrifices in the past three years. Now to honor those sacrifices most fully, we must acknowledge that our men and women in uniform have done their job. It is time for them to come home and for a redirected policy to take effect for the future of our country and for the future of Iraq.

Please visit my web site, and please consider contributing to my campaign. Together we can make it happen.
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I am a candidate for Congress in the 16th Congressional District in Pennsylvania
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