Mr. President, yesterday I was at Arlington National Cemetery for the funeral of Lance Corporal Geoffrey R. Cayer, a 20 year old from Massachusetts, and I was struck by the number of funerals taking place and the number of new headstones bearing the inscription "Operation Iraqi Freedom" and "Operation Enduring Freedom."
One of those among the fallen is Phillip Baucus, the nephew of our friend and colleague Sen. Baucus. Phillip was a proud and brave Marine Corps Corporal who gave his life serving his country last Saturday in Anbar Province in Iraq. He was an extraordinary young man, and I know from Max what he meant to his family and what a totally devastating blow this is to all of them. My prayers are for Phillip and every family which has endured this kind of monumental loss. Phillip and Lance Corporal Cayer and all those who have given their lives are a tough reminder to all of the incredible sacrifices Americas' children are making every day.
Mr. President, with the violence in Iraq growing worse by the day, it was stunning to hear Secretary Rumsfeld come before the Armed Services Committee this morning with a laundry list of excuses and denials about what is happening there and its consequences for the region. General Abizaid candidly acknowledged that the "sectarian violence is as bad as I've seen it," that he's rarely seen the situation "so unsettled and so volatile." He warned of coming civil war, and that "failure to apply coordinated regional and international pressure ... will further extremism" and could lead to a widening and more perilous conflict.
No - Secretary Rumsfeld announced that "there's a number of good things happening" amidst all of this difficulty, the currency is fairly stable, the schools are open, the hospitals are open, the people are functioning." Secretary Rumsfeld waxed optimistic about an Iraq where "you see people out in the fields doing things and people driving their cars and lining up for gasoline and going about their business." He went on to say that "despite all of the difficulties, there are also some good trend lines that are occurring, and I think the period ahead is an important period."
Mr. President, this is more than an important period, this may well be the moment that decides the security of the Middle East itself, and it's time the Administration was candid about the situation and got to work on rescuing what's salvageable in Iraq.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: this Congress has a constitutional responsibility and a moral obligation to hold this Administration accountable for making the right choices for our troops and our country.
That starts with demanding honesty when it comes to the war in Iraq. Because the bottom line is that this Administration is sending more U.S. troops into the crossfire of an escalating civil war in Iraq - and they refuse to come clean with the American people about it.
No more half measures, no more staged phony political debates - it's time to tell the truth about the consequences of today's failed policy in Iraq.
No matter what the Administration tells you, there is a civil war raging in Iraq.
The President's policy of standing down U.S. troops as Iraqis stand up has finally been exposed as nothing more than a misleading myth: in fact, we are actually increasing our overall troop presence even as they tell us that many more Iraqis soldiers have been trained - and we've reportedly all but abandoned hope of withdrawing significant numbers of U.S. troops this year, even as the Iraqi President tells us that Iraqis can take over security responsibility throughout their country by the end of the year.
Yesterday, we learned more about our dangerously overstretched military when the top National Guard General warned that more than two-thirds of the Army National Guard's brigades are not combat ready.
And worst of all, there is no end in sight and no realistic plan to turn the tide.
To change course we must first confront the realities on the ground, starting by acknowledging that there is a civil war going on in Iraq. The Administration denies that because it doesn't fit their rhetoric - but by objective standards that is exactly what's happening. Just look at the facts.
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