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Sunday, September 19, 2004

Republican Senators are Shrill

The latest National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq leaked to the Associated Press this week, and the news was not good. Not good at all.
In a highly classified National Intelligence Estimate, the [National Intelligence] council looked at the political, economic and security situation in the war-torn country and determined that -- at best -- stability in Iraq would be tenuous, a U.S. official said late Wednesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

At worst, the official said, were "trend lines that would point to a civil war." The official said it "would be fair" to call the document "pessimistic."

The intelligence estimate, which was prepared for Bush, considered the window of time between July and the end of 2005.
So why does President George W. Bush tour the country talking about the good news in Iraq? The AP quoted Bush in August: "We're making progress on the ground."

Wouldn't one simple and quantifiable sign of progress be the reconstruction of Iraq? I know that conservatives are always talking about the new schools and hospitals in Iraq. Why doesn't the media talk about them more, they say?

Better check those talking points.

It turns out that only $1 billion of $18.4 billion allocated by Congress for reconstruction of Iraq has been spent this year. In response to this news, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel (Neb.) was not happy:
"It's beyond pitiful, it's beyond embarrassing, it's now in the zone of dangerous," said Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., referring to figures showing only about 6 percent of the reconstruction money approved by Congress last year has been spent.
Republican Senator Richard Lugar is not happy either (Reuters):
"This is the incompetence in the administration," he said on ABC's "This Week."
Reuters too got a choice quote from Hagel today:
"The fact is, we're in deep trouble in Iraq ... and I think we're going to have to look at some recalibration of policy," Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said on CBS's "Face the Nation."
Republican Senator John McCain has discussed the broader context of Iraq, noting that George W. Bush isn't always a "straight shooter."
"We made serious mistakes," said Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican...After the CIA report was disclosed on Thursday, Kerry accused the president of living in a "fantasy world of spin" about Iraq and of not telling the truth about the growing chaos.

McCain said Bush had been "perhaps not as straight as maybe we'd like to see."
Here's Lugar quoted in the AP piece:
"Our committee heard blindly optimistic people from the administration prior to the war and people outside the administration -- what I call the 'dancing in the street crowd' -- that we just simply will be greeted with open arms," Lugar said. "The nonsense of all of that is apparent. The lack of planning is apparent."
Deep Trouble. Beyond pitiful. Beyond embarrasment.

Dangerous. Incompetent. Nonsense.

Does this seem shrill? These are three sitting senior Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee talking about US policy in Iraq.

So why would anyone want to keep the same team in place?

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