Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Embarrassed Republican

That's me.

What in the world possessed the Senate Republican "leadership" to push through the Warner Amendment (S.AMDT.2518) to the Defense Appropriations Bill today?

SA 2518. Mr. WARNER (for himself and Mr. FRIST) proposed an amendment to the bill S. 1042, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2006 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe personnel strengths for such fiscal year for the Armed Forces, and for other purposes; as follows:

At the end of title XII, add the following:

SEC. __. UNITED STATES POLICY ON IRAQ.

(a) Short Title.--This section may be cited as the ``United States Policy on Iraq Act''.

(b) Sense of Senate.--It is the sense of the Senate that, in order to succeed in Iraq--

(1) members of the United States Armed Forces who are serving or have served in Iraq and their families deserve the utmost respect and the heartfelt gratitude of the American people for their unwavering devotion to duty, service to the Nation, and selfless sacrifice under the most difficult circumstances;

(2) it is important to recognize that the Iraqi people have made enormous sacrifices and that the overwhelming majority of Iraqis want to live in peace and security;

(3) calendar year 2006 should be a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, with Iraqi security forces taking the lead for the security of a free and sovereign Iraq, thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq;

(4) United States military forces should not stay in Iraq any longer than required and the people of Iraq should be so advised;

(5) the Administration should tell the leaders of all groups and political parties in Iraq that they need to make the compromises necessary to achieve the broad-based and sustainable political settlement that is essential for defeating the insurgency in Iraq, within the schedule they set for themselves; and

(6) the Administration needs to explain to Congress and the American people its strategy for the successful completion of the mission in Iraq.

(c) Reports to Congress on United States Policy and Military Operations in Iraq.--Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, and every three months thereafter until all United States combat brigades have redeployed from Iraq, the President shall submit to Congress an unclassified report on United States policy and military operations in Iraq. Each report shall include, to the extent practicable, the following unclassified information:

(1) The current military mission and the diplomatic, political, economic, and military measures, if any, that are being or have been undertaken to successfully complete or support that mission, including:

(A) Efforts to convince Iraq's main communities to make the compromises necessary for a broad-based and sustainable political settlement.

(B) Engaging the international community and the region in the effort to stabilize Iraq and to forge a broad-based and sustainable political settlement.

(C) Strengthening the capacity of Iraq's government ministries.

(D) Accelerating the delivery of basic services.

(E) Securing the delivery of pledged economic assistance from the international community and additional pledges of assistance.

(F) Training Iraqi security forces and transferring security responsibilities to those forces and the government of Iraq.

(2) Whether the Iraqis have made the compromises necessary to achieve the broad-based and sustainable political settlement that is essential for defeating the insurgency in Iraq.

(3) Any specific conditions included in the April 2005 Multi-National Forces-Iraq campaign action plan (referred to in United States Government Accountability Office October 2005 report on Rebuilding Iraq: DOD Reports Should Link Economic, Governance, and Security Indicators to Conditions for Stabilizing Iraq), and any subsequent updates to that campaign plan, that must be met in order to provide for the transition of security responsibility to Iraqi security forces.

(4) To the extent that these conditions are not covered under paragraph (3), the following should also be addressed:

(A) The number of battalions of the Iraqi Armed Forces that must be able to operate independently or to take the lead in counterinsurgency operations and the defense of Iraq's territory.

(B) The number of Iraqi special police units that must be able to operate independently or to take the lead in maintaining law and order and fighting the insurgency.

(C) The number of regular police that must be trained and equipped to maintain law and order.

(D) The ability of Iraq's Federal ministries and provincial and local governments to independently sustain, direct, and coordinate Iraq's security forces.

(5) The criteria to be used to evaluate progress toward meeting such conditions.

(6) A schedule for meeting such conditions, an assessment of the extent to which such conditions have been met, information regarding variables that could alter that schedule, and the reasons for any subsequent changes to that schedule.

The roll call on the Amendment was as follows:

Akaka (D-HI), Yea
Alexander (R-TN), Not Voting
Allard (R-CO), Yea
Allen (R-VA), Yea
Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Bennett (R-UT), Yea
Biden (D-DE), Yea
Bingaman (D-NM), Yea
Bond (R-MO), Yea
Boxer (D-CA), Yea
Brownback (R-KS), Yea
Bunning (R-KY), Nay
Burns (R-MT), Yea
Burr (R-NC), Nay
Byrd (D-WV), Nay
Cantwell (D-WA), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Chafee (R-RI), Yea
Chambliss (R-GA), Nay
Clinton (D-NY), Yea
Coburn (R-OK), Nay
Cochran (R-MS), Yea
Coleman (R-MN), Yea
Collins (R-ME), Yea
Conrad (D-ND), Nay
Cornyn (R-TX), Yea
Corzine (D-NJ), Not Voting
Craig (R-ID), Yea
Crapo (R-ID), Yea
Dayton (D-MN), Yea
DeMint (R-SC), Nay
DeWine (R-OH), Yea
Dodd (D-CT), Yea
Dole (R-NC), Yea
Domenici (R-NM), Yea
Dorgan (D-ND), Yea
Durbin (D-IL), Yea
Ensign (R-NV), Yea
Enzi (R-WY), Yea
Feingold (D-WI), Yea
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Frist (R-TN), Yea
Graham (R-SC), Nay
Grassley (R-IA), Yea
Gregg (R-NH), Yea
Hagel (R-NE), Yea
Harkin (D-IA), Nay
Hatch (R-UT), Yea
Hutchison (R-TX), Yea
Inhofe (R-OK), Nay
Inouye (D-HI), Yea
Isakson (R-GA), Nay
Jeffords (I-VT), Yea
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kennedy (D-MA), Nay
Kerry (D-MA), Nay
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Kyl (R-AZ), Nay
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
Lautenberg (D-NJ), Yea
Leahy (D-VT), Nay
Levin (D-MI), Yea
Lieberman (D-CT), Yea
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
Lott (R-MS), Yea
Lugar (R-IN), Yea
Martinez (R-FL), Yea
McCain (R-AZ), Nay
McConnell (R-KY), Yea
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Murkowski (R-AK), Yea
Murray (D-WA), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Obama (D-IL), Yea
Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Reed (D-RI), Yea
Reid (D-NV), Yea
Roberts (R-KS), Yea
Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Santorum (R-PA), Yea
Sarbanes (D-MD), Yea
Schumer (D-NY), Yea
Sessions (R-AL), Nay
Shelby (R-AL), Yea
Smith (R-OR), Yea
Snowe (R-ME), Yea
Specter (R-PA), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
Stevens (R-AK), Yea
Sununu (R-NH), Yea
Talent (R-MO), Yea
Thomas (R-WY), Yea
Thune (R-SD), Nay
Vitter (R-LA), Nay
Voinovich (R-OH), Yea
Warner (R-VA), Yea
Wyden (D-OR), Yea

Hugh Hewitt is devoting his whole radio show to this topic tonight. Transcripts of his interviews with various Senators will be posted at Radioblogger. Senator Burr's interview is here.

Thankfully, there are grown-ups in Washington. Secretary Rumsfeld was informed of the vote during his press conference this afternoon. The question is almost as interesting as his whole answer:
Q The bottom line, though, it's a sense of the Senate on the war requiring the Pentagon and the administration to file more complete, regular progress reports. And it pressed the Pentagon --

SEC. RUMSFELD: Is this the one that was pending by Warner and somebody --

Q Yeah, and Frist.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Frist.

Q And here's my question. Looking back as a former member of Congress, does this signal to you a growing impatience in the U.S. Senate similar to the early '70s debates on Vietnam?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Oh, I wouldn't go down that road myself. It's understandable that the American people and the Congress are interested in knowing as much as possible about a war. A war is an important thing. It's a serious thing. It's a dangerous thing. People die, and we know that, and it's heartbreaking.

I was reading a book last night, Winston Churchill, and he said the problem is not winning the war but persuading people to let them -- let him win the war, he said. In a free system like we have -- these situations don't evolve in a dictatorship. It's only in free systems that we have these kind of open, public debates and discussions.

Just a piece of factual information. I'm told that the Department of Defense and the Department of State send literally dozens of Iraqi-related reports to Congress each year already. Seven are required reports. We have seven voluntary briefings. We have 28 IG reports, 52 GAO reports, and regular classified updates on the Iraqi security forces, which I believe go up there every month. Many of those things address what, as I recall, an earlier draft of that amendment may have covered. And that's fine. I mean, that's all part of the interaction between the executive and legislative branch. And they have every right to ask for reports, and we send, I don't know, it's something over 900 reports total every year from the Department of Defense to the Congress. I hope someone reads them.

But no, what it reflects to me is that this is a serious business and these are serious people and they're interested in having as much information as possible.

I was struck by what someone told me about another amendment, where Senator Lieberman spoke and pointed out that he was concerned -- I think he said, quote, that it seems to be -- you don't want to -- he said one of these amendments would send "a message that I fear will discourage our troops because it seems to be heading to the door. It will encourage the terrorists and it will confuse the Iraqi people and affect their judgments as they go forward."

And I mention that because another one that's pending involves deadlines, as I recall, or timetables of some sort. [ed. S.Amdt. 2519]

Q That was shot down.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Was it?

Q Yes.

SEC. RUMSFELD: Good.

Q But the point, I mean the impatience there, is this impatience coming a lot quicker than you would have anticipated? I mean, this your own party pressing this at the moment; it was 79 to 9. It was many Republicans, including Warner and Frist.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I think that amendment, I was told, was going to be offered in lieu of one that was somewhat different.

Q Yeah, but the point -- I mean, impatience, though. That's what I'm trying to get your sense on.

SEC. RUMSFELD: I think -- I have a lot of confidence in the American people, and frankly, I have a lot of confidence in the Congress. The Congress represents the American people, and the American people have a very good center of gravity. They listen, and they'll decide.

And what's going on in Iraq is important. It's important historically. It's important for the Iraqi people. It's important for the entire region, and quite honestly, it's very important for the United States of America and the coalition countries that have a desire to have their people be able to live as free people and not be subjected to the dictates of a hand -- small handful of fanatics.

After several more questions on other topics, Mr. Rumsfeld took one last question:

Q Yeah. One of the sentiments expressed by both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate is that the Iraqi political leaders need to be sent a message that the United States is not in Iraq indefinitely, as an incentive to get them to take greater responsibility for their own security leadership. How do you respond to that? Do you -- are you satisfied with the Iraqi political leadership, or do they need to be sent a message?

SEC. RUMSFELD: Well, of course, the leadership is not "the leadership." It's a scoop of individuals from different sects and different religions and different political lists, and they have differing views. But -- I mean, the fact of the matter is I meet with a lot of Iraqis, and overwhelmingly, they suggest that they're anxious to have the time arrive when we do not have to have so many forces there so visibly. And that's our desire as well.

So it seems to me that we're all very much in agreement, the president of the United States, who says he wants to hand over responsibility as soon as is possible and is working very hard to achieve that. We're already handing over responsibility in a number of areas. I expect that after this election, we'll be able to hand over additional responsibilities as the Iraqi security forces continue to grow in number. And that's the desire of the -- at least a number of the Iraqi leaders, just as it's the desire of the president of the United States and the troops themselves.

We don't go into a country to stay in a country. We go into a country to try to be helpful and then leave as soon as is possible, but not in a manner that's precipitous; and not in a manner that would inject an instability into the situation; and not in a manner that would suggest to the terrorists that all they have to do is wait us out, and they'll be able to have their way. Because if they have their way and impose their medieval vision on that country in that part of the world, it would be an enormous price to pay. And I don't think that's going to happen. [ed. Emphasis added.]

Thank you, folks.

Go get'm Mr. Secretary!

P.S. If you're wondering, the post title is a take-off on Hugh Hewitt's book, The Embarrassed Believer. He really should get it back in print, and add a study guide for church groups.