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Thursday, 31 August 2006 02:17

DNC: The Bush Administration Has Made America Less Safe

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NEWS RELEASE

News from the Democratic National Committee:

As President Bush kicks off his latest PR campaign in an attempt to regain public support for his failed policies in Iraq and the war on terror leading into the midterm elections, a new document from DNC research outlines how the Bush Administration's policies have made America less safe at home and around the world.

FROM MISSION ACCOMPLISHED TO LOWERED EXPECTATIONS

May 2003: Mission Accomplished. On May 1, 2003, Bush dramatically landed atop an aircraft carrier to proclaim major combat operations over in Iraq; he spoke in front of a banner reading, "Mission Accomplished". During his speech he stated that "major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed." [President Bush, 5/1/03]

March 2006: Bush: Iraq will be left to "Future Presidents." President Bush made it clear that there would be American troops in Iraq when he left office and it would be his successor's job to bring them home. In response to a question in a White House news conference about if there would come a day when there would be no American forces in Iraq, Bush answered, "That, of course, is an objective. And that will be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq." [CBS News, 3/21/06]

August 2006: Administration Lowering Expectations for Iraq. The Bush Administration was significantly lowering expectations of what could be achieved in Iraq, recognizing the United States would have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned. "What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning." According to an article in the Washington Post, "The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry, or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges." [Washington Post, 8/14/05; Christian Science Monitor, 8/15/05]

- War in Iraq About to Exceed Length of WWII; Since Beginning of War, 2,637 Have Died and 19,323 Wounded. In September 2006, the duration of combat operations would exceed the length of time that U.S. forces fought in Europe during WWII. Since the beginning of the war, 2,637 US troops have died and 19,323 have been wounded. [Detroit Free Press, 8/28/06; www.icasualties.org, accessed 8/30/06]

- Bush Approves Involuntary Call-Ups For the Marine Corps, Ordering Thousands Back to Active Duty. "The Marine Corps said Tuesday that it would begin calling Marines back to active-duty service on an involuntary basis to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan -- the latest sign that the American force is under strain -- the Iraq war has forced the Army, and now the Marines, to rely on the ready reserve to fill holes in the combat force." The call-ups were approved by President Bush. [Los Angeles Times, 8/23/06; Reuters, 8/22/06]

- Involuntary Call-Ups Supplemented By Stop-Loss Orders That Keep Soldiers On Active Duty Even After Their Commitment Is Complete. "For much of the conflict, the Army also has had to use "stop-loss orders" -- which keep soldiers in their units even after their active-duty commitments are complete -- as well as involuntary call-ups of its reservists. Both actions have been criticized as a 'back-door draft' and are unpopular with service members, many of whom say they have already done their part." [LA Times, 8/23/06]

- 9/11 Commissioner Lee Hamilton Says Iraq Is Breeding Ground For Terrorism. In an interview on Meet the Press, Hamilton said, "I think there isn't any doubt that it's a breeding ground for terrorism today." [Meet the Press, 8/13/06]

IRAQ FACES CIVIL WAR; US MILITARY STRETCHED TOO THIN

IRAQ FACING CIVIL WAR

Generals Raised Fears Of Iraq Civil War. In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on August 3, 2006, Generals Abizaid and Pace both expressed fears that Iraq was headed towards a civil war. Responding to questions about escalations in violence in recent weeks, General John Abizaid admitted that "Iraq could move toward civil war." He described the sectarian violence as "probably as bad as I have seen it[.]" Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff concurred with Abizaid's assessment that Iraq was in danger of civil war on its current path. Pace said at the hearing, "We do have the possibility of that devolving into civil war." While Pace indicated that he did not see this path developing one year ago, Abizaid admitted that the trend has been consistent, saying that it was obvious one year ago that sectarian violence was on the rise. [AP, 8/3/06]

Britain's Outgoing Ambassador To Iraq Forecast That "Civil War" And "Division" Of Iraq Was More Likely Than A "Stable Democracy," Contrary To British Public Statements. William Patey, the outgoing British Ambassador to Iraq, wrote in his final diplomatic telegram from Baghdad that Iraq would likely fall into civil war, end up in ethnic division, and not be an ally in the war on terror. Patey's cable forecast a bleak future for Iraq: "The prospect of a low intensity civil war and a de facto division of Iraq is probably more likely at this stage than a successful and substantial transition to a stable democracy." Patey added that Bush's "lowered expectation" for the country "must remain in doubt," expectations which he described as "a government that can sustain itself, defend itself and govern itself and is an ally in the war on terror[.]" According to Reuters, the statement "gives a far more pessimistic assessment for prospects in Iraq than Britain has disclosed in public." [BBC News, 8/3/06; Reuters, 8/3/06]

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]

National Intelligence Estimate Warned in 2003 Of the Strength of the Insurgency and the Possibility for Civil War. "U.S. intelligence agencies repeatedly warned the White House beginning more than two years ago that the insurgency in Iraq had deep local roots, was likely to worsen and could lead to civil war, according to former senior intelligence officials who helped craft the reports." [San Jose Mercury News, 3/1/06]

MILITARY STRETCHED TOO THIN

2006: Military Stretched Too Thin. Experts say that the Pentagon has had to struggle to meet the manpower requirements of the Iraq war in light of the continuing insurgency and civil unrest. A recent study done for the Pentagon by Army Lt. Col. Andrew F. Krepinevich of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments found that the military is stretched into a "thin green line". He said that the Army lacks sufficient troop levels to avoid too-frequent rotations into Iraq and Afghanistan. Troops are spending about a third of the time on deployment, instead of a fifth of the time - the preferred timetable to allow the Army to adequately rest, train and rebuild its units. With just over a half-million active duty troops, the Army may not be able to sustain the current pace of deployments long enough to defeat insurgencies in either Iraq or Afghanistan. [Los Angeles Times, 8/23/06; Denver Post, 1/28/06]

- Iraq Veteran Says Bush Administration Is Not Keeping Its Promises to Military. When asked about the latest plan for involuntary call-ups, Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, said "The bottom line is: Everyone is exhausted...It may be legal, but it is kind of like the difference between a contract and a promise. Overall we are eroding the promise made to our military." [Los Angeles Times, 8/23/06]

2005: Gen. Myers Reported That Military Stretched Too Thin. "The concentration of American troops and weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan limits the Pentagon's ability to deal with other potential armed conflicts, the military's highest ranking officer reported to Congress on Monday. Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, informed Congress that major combat operations elsewhere in the world...would probably be more protracted and produce higher American and foreign civilian casualties because of the commitment of Pentagon resources in Iraq and Afghanistan." [NYT, 5/3/05]

2005: Lt. General Says Army Reserve Becoming "Broken Force." The head of the Army Reserve has sent a sharply worded memo to other military leaders expressing "deepening concern" about the continued readiness of his troops and warning that his branch of 200,000 soldiers "is rapidly degenerating into a 'broken' force." In the Dec. 20th memo Lt. Gen. James Helmly lashed out at what he said were outdated and "dysfunctional" policies on mobilizing and managing the force. Helmly complained that his repeated requests to adjust the policies to current realities have been rebuffed by Pentagon authorities. [Washington Post, 6/6/05]

2004: Career Officer Forced to Retire For Saying that Army Stretched Too Thin. Army Maj. Gen. John Riggs was forced to retire in 2004 minus one star after he gave an interview in which he said the Army had been stretched thin in Afghanistan and Iraq and needed thousands more troops. [Duluth News Tribune, 4/14/06]

2003: Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki Rebuked For Saying That Several "Hundred Thousand Troops" Would Be Needed in Iraq. During a February testimony before the Senate Armed Services committee, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) asked Gen. Shinseki to estimate "the magnitude of the Army's force requirement for an occupation of Iraq following a successful completion of the war." Shinseki replied "I would say that what's been mobilized to this point, something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers, are probably, you know, a figure that would be required." Later, Rumsfeld dismissed Shinseki's estimate, saying that "My personal view is that it will prove to be high," and Dep. Sec. Wolfowitz told the House Budget Committee that "the notion that it will take several hundred thousand U.S. troops to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq [is] wildly off the mark." Senate Armed Services Committee 2/25/03; House Budget Committee Hearing 2/27/03; Rumsfeld News Conference, 2/28/03]

EXTENDED CONFLICT IN IRAQ WEAKENS US POSITION IN THE WORLD

Newsweek: "America Is Viewed As Weak...Distracted And Drained because of Iraq." According to an article in Newsweek by Michael Hirsh, "America is viewed as weak at the moment, distracted and drained because of Iraq...and everybody out there is taking advantage of it. Too often, Americans tend to see other players on the international stage as merely part of the backdrop, conforming to our movements or remaining stationary while we get our act together. In fact, most of these world leaders are aggressive players in their own right who will push back, and hard, when they see softness -- they are betting that George W. Bush is too out of resources and time to protest while they make a mockery of his agenda and his leadership." [Newsweek, 6/15/06]

Boston Globe: Bush's Reaction to Escalation of International Violence Shows Foreign Policy Has Undergone "A Sea of Change." According to an article in the Boston Globe, "The dramatic escalation of violence in Israel and Lebanon yesterday added yet another international crisis to the Bush administration's list of mounting problems, which include a looming confrontation with Iran over its nuclear program, North Korea's missile tests, and steadily rising sectarian killings in Iraq. As Bush heads to the summit of the Group of Eight industrial countries in Russia this weekend, analysts and administration officials say his reaction to these erupting international crises shows that his administration has undergone a sea change in foreign policy: The tough-talking superpower willing to use unilateral force is now a quieter player that urges moderation and restraint and is more willing to let allies take the lead." [Boston Globe, 6/14/06]

Time Magazine: The End of Cowboy Diplomacy. A cover story in Time Magazine entitled "The End of Cowboy Diplomacy," explained how the war in Iraq has affected American ability to affect foreign policy change regarding other important matters. "Bush's response to the North Korean missile test was revealing: Under the old Bush Doctrine, defiance by a dictator like Kim Jong Il would have merited threats of punitive U.S. action. Instead, the administration has mainly been talking up multilateralism and downplaying Pyongyang's provocation. The Bush Doctrine foundered in the principal place the U.S. tried to apply it. Though no one in the White House openly questions Bush's decision to go to war in Iraq, some aides now acknowledge that it has come at a steep cost in military resources, public support and credibility abroad. The administration is paying the bill every day as it tries to cope with other crises. Pursuing the forward-leaning foreign policy envisioned in the Bush Doctrine is nearly impossible at a time when the U.S. is trying to figure out how to extricate itself from Iraq." [Time, 7/9/06]

Academic Dean at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. According to Stephen Walt, academic dean at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, "the Iraq war was corroding all...elements of US power. Our armed forces have been weakened and our economy burdened by the costs of occupation, and the abuses at Abu Ghraib jail are a stain on the US's reputation." [Financial Times, 10/19/05]

Scholar at Conservative at American Enterprise Institute: Reversal of Bush Middle East Policy "Shameful." Michael Rubin, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, and a former defense department official under Bush, was critical of Bush's stalled efforts to impact the Middle East. "I am willing to blame Bush because I think the reversal of his policy is shameful," Rubin said. "What he did was the equivalent of the doctor starting surgery on a patient, opening him up, and then getting tired and leaving him on the table." [Boston Globe, 6/14/06]

Former National Security Council Member: "Administration Has Lost Control." "I think what we are seeing is an administration that has lost control, that is reacting to events, not shaping them," said Ivo Daalder, who served on President Bill Clinton's National Security Council staff. [Boston Globe, 6/14/06]

U.S. Peace Envoy in Middle East: Bush Administration "Preoccupied with Iraq." Middle East experts warned that a weakened Bush administration may be too preoccupied with its problems with Iraq and Iran to deal with the sharply escalating crisis around Israel. Dennis Ross, a longtime U.S. peace envoy in the region, said that "the Bush administration is preoccupied with Iraq and Iran and North Korea, and doesn't seem to have much time for this issue." Ross said that because it was distracted by the other crises the administration appeared to looking at the crisis in Gaza, where one Israeli soldier was being held captive, in narrow terms. In reality, the resolution of that problem "is going to have a very big impact" on future relations between Israel and the Palestinians, he said. [Newsday, 7/13/06]

President of Council on Foreign Relations: Iraq War "Absorbed A Tremendous Amount of U.S. Military Capacity," "Weakened Our Position." Richard N. Haass, president of the nonpartisan Council on Foreign Relations and head of policy planning at the State Department during the outbreak of the Iraq war in 2003, said that in hindsight, while history's judgment would depend on how things turned out in Iraq, the impact on U.S. foreign policy at this point was "clearly negative." The war, he said, "has absorbed a tremendous amount of U.S. military capacity, the result being that the United States has far less spare or available capacity, not just to use in the active sense, but to exploit in the diplomatic sense. It has therefore weakened our position against both North Korea and Iran." He said that it had also "exacerbated the U.S. fiscal situation, which obviously has all sorts of economic repercussions." "For all that, a lot of the impact on U.S. foreign policy still awaits how things turn out," Haass says. "It's a very different impact if Iraq suddenly implodes or becomes the venue for not just a civil war but a regional war. Obviously, in such a circumstance, the implications for U.S. foreign policy would be both greater and more negative." [Council on Foreign Relations Interview, 3/14/06]

UNDER GEORGE BUSH, AMERICA IS LESS SAFE

Under Bush Republican Leadership, the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Have Not Been Properly Implemented. The 9/11 Commission gave the Bush Administration 5 F's and 12 D's on the implementation of the Commission's recommendations for homeland security. [Final Report on 9/11 Commission Recommendations, 12/05]

AIRPORT SECURITY: Still No Unified Terrorist Watch List. There remains no unified terrorist watch list for screening airline passengers. In its December 2005 report card, the 9/11 Commission gave the Administration a failing grade for its efforts to improve passenger pre-screening, noting that "few improvements have been made to the existing passenger screening system since right after 9/11. The completion of the testing phase of TSA's pre-screening program for airline passengers has been delayed. A new system, utilizing all names on the consolidated terrorist watch list, is therefore not yet in operation." While $130 million has been spent on the Secure Flight program -- a system that would match airline passengers against terrorist watch lists -- the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that it remains in development and faces considerable management and oversight challenges. Secure Flight was suspending the program in March due to security and privacy concerns. [9/11 Public Discourse Project, December 2005; govexec.com, 6/25/06]

PORTS: Screening Technology at U.S. Ports Still Inadequate. "The radiation-detection technology currently used in the world's ports by the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection Agency is not adequately capable of detecting a nuclear weapon or a lightly shielded dirty bomb...The flaws in detection technology require the Pentagon's counterproliferation teams to physically board container ships at sea to determine if they are carrying weapons of mass destruction. Even if there were enough trained boarding teams to perform these inspections on a regular basis -- and there are not -- there is still the practical problem of inspecting the contents of cargo containers at sea...This factor guarantees that in the absence of very detailed intelligence, inspectors will be able to perform only the most superficial of examinations." ["Port Security is Still a House of Cards," Stephen E. Flynn, Far Eastern Economic Review, January/February 2006]

BORDERS: Millions Wasted On Inadequate Border Security Efforts. Millions of tax dollars have been wasted as a result of failed border security technology initiatives that have been undertaken by the Department -- the Integrated Surveillance Intelligence System and the America's Shield Initiatives. The Administration has failed to provide promised funding for Border Patrol agents (20 percent short), detention bed spaces (20 percent short), and the Immigration and Customs agent resources called for by the 9/11 Act (75 percent short). ["The State of Homeland Security, 2006" prepared by the Democratic Staff of the Committee on Homeland Security; 2/06]

FIRST RESPONDERS: Emergency Preparedness Still Inadequate. The President's budget for 2007 proposed to cut $612 million from first responder grants and training programs. The budget cuts funding levels for programs designed to assist state and local law enforcement agencies by more than $1 billion compared to FY 2006, the Firefighters Grant Program was cut by 50 percent, and the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium, which trains first responders, was cut by 66 percent. In addition, the President's 2007 budget requested no funding to enhance interoperable communications. ["The State of Homeland Security, 2006" prepared by the Democratic Staff of the Committee on Homeland Security; 2/06]

CHEMICAL PLANT SECURITY: Bush Dropped Chemical Plant Regulations, "A Victory for Major Chemical Manufacturers." The Washington Post reported Bush "abandoned" tough new security regulations... on the chemical industry, calling it, 'a victory for major chemical manufacturers'" The decision to abandon these new regulations was made despite the fact that only about one-sixth of the 15,000 facilities with large amounts of dangerous chemicals are covered by federal security requirements. [GAO, Homeland Security: Federal and Industry Efforts Are Addressing Security Issues at Chemical Facilities, but Additional Action Is Needed, 4/27/05; Washington Post, 10/3/02]

RAIL AND TRANSIT SECURITY: Bush Has Not Improved Rail and Transit Security. Terrorist groups have already targeted surface transportation for attacks, including the attack on a Moscow Metro rail car in 2004, a coordinated series of 10 explosions on four commuter trains in Madrid that same year, and a coordinated series of four explosions on three London subway trains and one bus in 2005. Despite this, the TSA budget dedicates only 1 percent of the department's funding to surface transportation security. The budget also eliminates dedicated grants used by public transportation systems to increase security, forcing surface transportation to compete with ports and other critical infrastructure for funding. ["The State of Homeland Security, 2006" prepared by the Democratic Staff of the Committee on Homeland Security; 2/06]

UNDER GEORGE BUSH, THE WORLD IS LESS SAFE

HUNT FOR BIN-LADEN: Failure to Hunt for Bin Laden "Gravest Error in The War against al Qaeda." According to the Washington Post, "The Bush Administration has concluded that Osama bin Laden was present during the battle for Tora Bora late last year and that failure to commit U.S. ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda? "We messed up by not getting into Tora Bora sooner and letting the Afghans do all the work," said a senior official with direct responsibilities in counterterrorism. "Clearly a decision point came when we started bombing Tora Bora and we decided just to bomb, because that's when he escaped.We didn't put U.S. forces on the ground, despite all the brave talk, and that is what we have had to change since then." [Washington Post, 4/17/02]

- Bush Administration Closed CIA Unit Focused on Capture of bin Laden. The Central Intelligence Agency closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants. The unit, known as Alec Station, was disbanded in late 2005 and its analysts were reassigned. Michael Scheuer, a former senior CIA official who was the first head of the unit, said the move reflected a mistaken view within the agency that bin Laden was no longer the threat he once was. "This will clearly denigrate our operations against Al Qaeda," he said. "These days at the agency, bin Laden and Al Qaeda appear to be treated merely as first among equals." [New York Times, 7/4/06]

- Al Qaeda Linked to Recent Plot To Blow Up US Bound Flights. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said the [London] plot bore the hallmarks of al-Qaeda, "which has called on supporters to renew attacks against both nations." Terror expert Rohan Gunaratna said, "It's a classic al-Qaeda tactic. It's a hallmark of al-Qaeda to carry out coordinated, simultaneous attacks." Another terrorism expert Paul Beaver insisted that British military action in Iraq and Afghanistan helped make us a target for Osama bin Laden's thugs. He said: "In the last two months, al-Qaeda promised it would avenge Iraq and Afghanistan by attacking British and American aviation assets. I see a direct link with that." [Calgary Herald, 8/12/06; Daily Record, 8/11/06]

NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION: Iran Pursuing Nuclear Arms Program. Iran hid its nuclear program for more than a dozen years from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear monitoring arm of the United Nations, and now the United States and Europe contend that Iran is pursuing an arms program. In January of 2006, Iran restarted its effort to make atomic fuel after negotiations with Britain, France and Germany over the fate of its atomic program broke down. [New York Times, 4/28/06; New York Times, 8/7/06]

- Experts Say Bush Administration Strategy Emboldened Iranian Nuclear Program. The Bush Administration refused to negotiate with Iran for years, when the country was willing to make real concessions on its nuclear program. Just after the U.S. takeover of Baghdad in 2003, Iran proposed a dialogue with the United States. According to former senior director of the National Security Council, Flynt Leverett, the offer was "a serious effort." The Bush Administration's refusal to enter into talks, according to Middle East expert Trita Parsi, "strengthened the hands of those in Iran who believe that the only way to compel the United States to talk is not by sending peace offers, but by being a nuisance." [Washington Post, 6/18/06; American Prospect, June 2006]

NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION: North Korea Pursuing Nuclear Arms Program. Since 9/11, North Korea has accelerated their nuclear efforts. A report by the National Security Advisory Group issued in July of 2005 states that "North Korea's runaway nuclear program could be a direct path to nuclear terror...North Korea sells missiles and other dangerous technology worldwide, with no apparent limits or compunction...[the country's] leaders and elite engage in smuggling, counterfeiting, and other illicit activities. These same people might traffic in nuclear materials the way A.Q. Khan trafficked in Pakistan's nuclear technology." [Worst Weapons in Worst Hands, The National Security Advisory Group, July 2005]

- Experts Say Bush Administration Strategy Has Claimed Credit For Diplomatic Process But Failed to Take Any Responsibility for a Lack of Results. A report by the National Security Advisory Group issued in July of 2005 states that "Since 9/11, in the face of North Korea's runaway nuclear program, U.S. policymakers: did nothing as North Korea crossed redline after redline; claimed credit for diplomatic process (the Six-Party Talks) but have taken no responsibility for total lack of results; attempted to outsource the issue to China and then blame the failure on China; [and] tried to blame the Clinton administration, the administration that actually stopped plutonium production in North Korea." The report continues by saying that during the Clinton Administration, North Korea had no plutonium, but during the Bush Administration, North Korea has at least four to six nuclear weapons worth of plutonium. [Worst Weapons in Worst Hands, The National Security Advisory Group, July 2005]

NEWS RELEASE
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