A Daily "Thought"

5/26/2007

Bush's War is Turning Sands of Iraq Blood Red: Robert Bird

This week saw the second anniversary of my blog. I thought this speech by the Senior Senator from West Virginia, Robert Byrd, is worth noting about the state of our country and our misguided commitments aboard as I begin my third year writing this blog...enjoy!!!


Bush's War is Turning Sands of Iraq Blood Red: Robert Bird
[With Introduction by Bob Geiger]

Like many avowed liberals, I have a hard time getting
past the personal history of Senator Robert Byrd of West
Virginia. Byrd spent a lot of his twenties as a member of
the Ku Klux Klan -- something for which he has repeatedly
expressed remorse and shame -- filibustered the Civil
Rights Act of 1964, voted against the nomination of
Thurgood Marshall to the United States Supreme Court
in 1967 and was part of the "Gang of 14" who in 2005
compromised with Republicans on the appointment of right-
wing judges.

But, at age 89, Byrd is the longest-serving Senator in
U.S. history, is widely considered the Senate's foremost
historian and expert in parliamentary matters and, when it
comes to the Iraq war, was wise enough to be against it
from the very beginning.

"Today I weep for my country. I have watched the events of
recent months with a heavy, heavy heart," said Byrd in a
Senate-floor speech on March 19, 2003, after George W. Bush
ordered the Iraq invasion. "No more is the image of America
one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper. The image of
America has changed. Around the globe, our friends mistrust
us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned.
Instead of reasoning with those with whom we disagree, we
demand obedience or threaten recrimination."

And Byrd was prescient in his objection to the Iraq
invasion, citing what he believed even then to be corrupt
evidence for the war and the fact that Saddam Hussein had
nothing to do with the events of September 11. Here's more
from Senator Byrd on March 19, 2003:

"The case this administration tries to make to justify
its fixation with war is tainted by charges of falsified
documents and circumstantial evidence. We cannot convince
the world of the necessity of this war for one simple
reason: This is not a war of necessity, but a war of
choice.

"There is no credible information to connect Saddam Hussein
to 9/11, at least up to this point.

"What is happening to this country--my country, your
country, our country? When did we become a nation which
ignores and berates our friends and calls them irrelevant?
When did we decide to risk undermining international order
by adopting a radical and doctrinaire approach to using
our awesome military might? How can we abandon diplomatic
efforts when the turmoil in the world cries out for
diplomacy?"

I'm writing about all of this now because of another
wonderful speech Byrd gave on the Senate floor just last
Thursday in which he eviscerated Bush and his administration
on the fight over the war's continuation. Byrd's opinion is
notable not only because he has the frame of reference of
48 years in the Senate, but also because he is currently
president pro tempore of the Senate and -- no matter how
arcane this may sometimes seem -- this makes him third in
line to the presidency behind Dick Cheney and House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi.

Take a look at what a man with the perspective of a half-
century in the Senate has to say about the worst president
in our country's history. I've included his floor speech of
May 17, 2007 in its entirety below.

* * * * *

Here we are once again -- deja vu -- debating supplemental
funding for the President's disastrous misadventure in
Iraq. Now in its fifth year of occupation, the U.S. death
toll in Iraq is over 3,380. What a shame, shame, shame.
The death toll of innocent Iraqis is largely unknown, but
it probably numbers in the tens of thousands.

The United States of America has spent over $378 billion
in Iraq. Do you know how much a billion dollars is? That
is $1 for every minute since Jesus Christ was born. So the
United States has spent over $378 billion in Iraq, and we
are all familiar with the horrendous tales of waste and
abuse by U.S. contractors in Iraq. The taxpayer -- that is
you out there -- has been ravaged by the profiteering in
Iraq. But even worse, despite the billions, our brave
troops have been shortchanged with inadequate equipment to
protect their lives and shoddy medical care, if they make
it back home, to treat wounds of the body and of the mind.

Now the President has threatened to veto the House bill,
which is before the Senate, because it sets a date to
withdraw, provides funding until late July and "could
unreasonably burden the President's exercise of his
constitutional authorities, including his authority as
Commander in Chief."

President Bush has also objected to funding for rebuilding
the Gulf Coast States after Hurricane Katrina, funding to
improve health care for our troops and our veterans,
funding for the shortfall in the State Children's Health
Insurance Program, funding for Low-Income Heating
Assistance Program, and more funding for Homeland Security.

This President -- our President -- has a single-minded
obsession with Iraq, and he appears to see no value in
anything except continuing his chaotic "mission
impossible." While tilting at windmills may have been a
harmless procedure for Don Quixote, Mr. Bush's war is
turning the sands of Iraq blood red.

Mr. Bush raises constitutional concerns in his latest veto
threat. I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. I don't
no whether to laugh or to cry. I suppose one could be
encouraged that "constitutional concerns" exist in the Bush
kingdom. After setting aside the Constitution whenever
convenient to justify preemptive attacks, illegal searches,
secret wiretapping, clandestine military tribunals, treaty
violations, kidnapping, torture, and a rejection of habeas
corpus, one has to wonder about the nature of these
purported "constitutional concerns."

If the Constitution is finally to be read, let us read it
in its entirety, including the articles which give the
people's representatives -- that is us -- the power over
the purse -- yes, the power over the purse; don't ever
forget it. That is the real power. It gives the people's
representatives the power over the purse and the power to
declare war.

In its statement of administrative policy, the
administration claims that the House bill before us
"..... is likely to unleash chaos in Iraq. ....." Mr.
President, what do we have now if not chaos in Iraq?
Securing Iraq has unaccountably morphed into securing
Baghdad, and even that goal eludes us. I doubt if building
a wall around the green zone is going to be of much
consequence in securing Baghdad, not to mention the very
strange message such a wall conveys concerning our
purported liberation of Iraq.

The President -- our President -- continues to miss the
point. Iraq is at war with itself. America cannot create a
stable democracy in Iraq at the point of a gun. While our
troops succeeded in toppling Saddam Hussein, it is the
President's profound misunderstanding of the dynamics in
Iraq that have led to the failure of his Iraq policies.
Why in the world should we now believe the claims that he
makes in his veto threat?

There must be an end to this occupation of Iraq. Yes, I say
occupation for it is no longer a war in which U.S. troops
should be involved. Our troops won the war they were sent
to fight, and they should not now be asked to serve as
targets in a religious conflict between Sunni and Shiites
that has raged for thousands of years. It is reported that
even a majority in the Iraqi Parliament now supports
legislation which demands a scheduled withdrawal and an
immediate freeze on the number of foreign soldiers in Iraq.

In April, Congress set a new course for the war in Iraq.
Sadly, the President -- our stubborn, uncompromising
President -- chose to veto that bill. As we prepare to go
to conference again, the President continues to close his
eyes and cover his ears to the reality in Iraq, and the
urgent need for a new direction. Whatever decision is made
in conference will not be the last chapter in this sad
story. God willing, this Senator will not close his eyes,
nor will he cover his ears, nor will I stand by in silence.

Hear me.

We need to conclude this terrible, awful mistake that we
have made in Iraq. I said in the beginning that we ought
not go into Iraq. But we are there. Anti-Americanism is
more robust now than in any period in our history because
of Iraq. Do you hear that? The international community is
skeptical -- why should they not be? They are skeptical
of U.S. intentions because of Iraq. Our Constitution has
been trampled -- hear that. Our Constitution has been
trampled because of Iraq. Thousands of U.S. troops and
Iraqi citizens have lost their lives because of Iraq.
Thousands more are maimed physically or mentally because
of Iraq. Billions of U.S. dollars have been wasted because
of Iraq.

President Bush has lost all credibility. President Bush,
our President, has lost all -- all -- credibility because
of Iraq.

Terrorism is on the rise worldwide because of Iraq. May
God grant this Congress -- that is, us -- may God grant
this Congress the courage to come together and answer the
cries of a majority of the people who sent us here. Find
a way to end this horrible catastrophe, this unspeakable
-- unspeakable -- ongoing calamity called Iraq. May God
help us in the United States.
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