Thursday, March 15, 2007



The House is getting tough. The $124 billion war funding bill that passed the House Appropriations Committee today (36-28, all Dems, except Barbara Lee-- who said it didn't go far enough-- voting yes and every single Republican voting no) sets strict benchmarks and timelines for removal of U.S. troops. Next step: the floor of the House next week. (MINI-UPDATE: Watch Murtha slap the hell out of Jerry Lewis' pathetic amendment that was meant to undermine the Iraq Supplemental funding bill in committee today.)

Meanwhile, next door, Reid's binding resolution to set a target date in just over a year failed to even gain a majority. It needed 60 votes to pass and wound up with 48. Needless to say, Holy Joe Lieberman voted with the rest of the Republicans and the only Republican to defect and join Reid was Gordon Smith (R-OR)-- a worse flip-flopper than Mitt Romney whose flip came down on the side of the good guys today. So who were the two so-called Democrats who should be remembered by anyone who cares about this war: obviously one was Ben Nelson (D-NE), who votes more with the Republicans than even Lieberman. And the other is Arkansas' Mark Pryor, also generally a reactionary.

Bob Geiger covered the Senate debate thoroughly and his report, Republicans Vote To Stay In Iraq Indefinitely is a must-read.

In a move that once again showed their utter contempt for U.S. troops, military families and the will of the American people, Senate Republicans today voted down S. J. Res. 9, the United States Policy in Iraq Resolution of 2007, proposed by Democrats to force George W. Bush to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq within 120 days, with a target of a total withdrawal by March of 2008.

"Monday will mark the beginning of the fifth year that our troops have been mired in a war in that far off country," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) before the vote. "Five years of war, the President's current approach in Iraq is not working. The country is closer to chaos than stability. U.S. troops are policing a civil war, not hunting and killing the terrorists who attacked America on 9/11."

"Five years of war, the mission has changed. Saddam is gone. There were no weapons of mass destruction. The original mission no longer exists. Five years of war, 3,200 Americans killed, over 22,000 wounded, over $400 billion spent, and still no end in sight."

Reid said that he will keep bringing back resolutions like this until the Senate passes one.

Colorado's State Senate moved one step closer to passing a resolution rejecting Bush's war agenda.

Meanwhile, over in Iraq, the new U.S. strategy is to move the fighting right into everyone's neighborhoods.
American forces here plan to operate out of 100 neighborhood garrisons across the capital in the next month as part of the new offensive to secure the city, the American commander in charge of Baghdad said today.

Nearly 80 such garrisons are already in operation, he said. The increase in the number of outposts is part of the plan to put American troops back on the streets and in the neighborhoods of Baghdad, living among the Iraqis and making their presence felt. Thousands of additional American troops are expected to enter the Baghdad area by May to bolster the forces already here...

The expansion of the garrisons is essentially a repudiation of the military policy of the last two years, in which American troops spent more time on bases and much less time doing patrols or interacting with Iraqis. Critics of the White House and the American military say that emphasis on minimizing American casualties, called force protection, allowed the capital and other parts of Iraq to spin out of control and descend into a maelstrom of sectarian bloodletting.

This sounds like a very bad idea to me-- one that will lead to lots more dead Iraqi civilians, engendering more hatred towards Americans and more desperation. And, according to the New York Times "The establishment of the garrisons may already have contributed to a rise in the percentage of American deaths that occur in Baghdad." Go Bush! Go Republicans! Go Mark Pryor! Go Ben Nelson!

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