Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Amanda's Question For Donald Rumsfeld--And My Answer

The following op-ed is written by Congressman Harold Ford Jr. and appears on the TMPCafe blog:

Two weeks ago, our campaign for the U.S. Senate traveled the entire width of Tennessee by bus. We sought to listen to the people of our great state and to share with them a vision for a new generation of leadership in Washington.

The week was among my most rewarding in public life. In small towns and urban centers, in factories and armories, firehalls and lunch counters, we heard from thousands of Tennesseans, anxious for answers to the questions of our time: affordable healthcare, energy independence, a balanced budget, a secure nation, and college within reach for everyone.

The most memorable moment, however, came not 30 minutes into my first stop at a school assembly in Blountville, Tennessee.

Blountville is a small courthouse town tucked in the foothills of northeast Tennessee. It is in the heart of a district that has not elected a Democrat to Congress since the Civil War. So it was the natural place for a Democrat who believes in reaching across party lines to begin a statewide tour.

It was in the Blountville Middle School gym that Amanda, a seventh-grade student, raised her right hand in front of her schoolmates and asked me a simple question: "Why do we keep sending so many soldiers to Iraq? And why can't the ones who are finished doing their job come home?"

Amanda had good reason to ask. Her father, already a veteran of one tour in Iraq, is headed back this summer for another. He has been told he will be there for a year—until summer 2007.

I, along with most Americans, accepted the president's representation that war in Iraq was necessary to keep us safe, and voted to authorize the use of force. I have voted for every funding request the President has made for our troops there. I have traveled to Iraq four times, and remain hopeful for the country and its people.

I answered Amanda the best I could: that despite the missing weapons of mass destruction, that despite the growing insurgency, and that despite the fact that the president was wrong when he proclaimed "mission accomplished," as Colin Powell once said so accurately, once you break something, it's yours.

Iraq is now indisputably ours. We are obliged to do it right.

I no longer, however, have the same confidence in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. As more reports come in from our war planners and generals in the field, there is a growing consensus that Secretary Rumsfeld's misjudgments have cost us time and, worse, lives in Iraq.

These are but some of the now-familiar observations of our highest-ranking military experts:
  • "Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces. He has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down." Army Maj. Gen. Paul D. Eaton, U.S. commander of training Iraqi security forces 2003-04, Sunday, March 19.

  • "We made some serious mistakes in the immediate aftermath of the fall of Baghdad.… We didn't have enough troops on the ground. We didn't impose our will. And as a result, an insurgency got started, and … it got out of control." Gen. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, April 8.

  • "[T]he commitment of our forces to this fight was done with a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions--or bury the results....a fundamentally flawed plan was executed for an invented war, while pursuing the real enemy, al-Qaeda, became a secondary effort." Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, former Director of Operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, April 17.

  • "I don't agree with Secretary Rumsfeld's management of the war. Specifically, I feel he has micromanaged the generals who are leading our forces there to achieve our strategic objectives. I really believe that we need a new Secretary of Defense because Secretary Rumsfeld carries way too much baggage with him." Army Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack, Jr., former commander, 82nd Airborne Division, and Task Force All American in Iraq in 2003-2004.

I trust these generals. They know the men and women we send to war ask very little, but they do ask one thing we cannot deny them: a plan for victory built on achievable goals, realistic troop strengths, and honest assessments.

And just as the goal of a safe, democratic Iraq is America's, the plan to achieve that goal was indisputably Secretary Rumsfeld's.

America is built upon a rock of personal responsibility. Our troops and veterans have accepted theirs. Tennesseans who have supported these great men and women have accepted theirs. And if a seventh-grader at Blountville Middle School can accept hers with grace and dignity, surely the Secretary of Defense can do no less.

Secretary Rumsfeld, it is time for you to account to Amanda. It is time for you to resign.

Comments: Once again Congressman Ford is showing his concern for our nation's well being and our troop's safety.

On the other hand, his opponents are saying nothing. Their silence leads one to believe that they support the terrible job Donald Rumsfeld is doing in executing this war. If that is the case, that would render them non-Senate material in my book.

I want a Senator with good judgement--not one who will play politics (by defending a failed, Republican Defense Secretary) with an issue like our troops safety and national security.

111 Days

Days of Congressional Inaction on Ethics

Above is the number of days that have passed since Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to bribing Congressman.

It is also the number of days in which Congress has failed to pass an ethics reform bill that would limit private travel, ski and golf junkets, and would call for a full disclosure of expenses by lobbyists on members of Congress.

It is time for Congress to step up and pass an ethics reform bill that would do all of the above. In addition, it is time to end the pork barrel spending system as we know it and establish an independent ethics commission that would review ethics complaints against members of Congress.

I am proud Congressman Harold Ford Jr. is fighting for that reform!

Read Congressman Ford's call for reform of the House rules here!