Dear Mr. Smith:
Thank you for writing me about the reconstruction of Iraq. I appreciate the time you took to write.
The Senate vote on the resolution to authorize the use of force in Iraq was difficult and consequential based on hours of intelligence briefings from Administration and intelligence officials, as well as the classified and unclassified versions of an important National Intelligence Estimate that comprehensively assessed Iraqi’s WMD program. It was based on trust that this intelligence was the best our Nation’s intelligence services could offer, untainted by bias, and fairly presented. In this case it was not.
The bottom line is that Iraq did not possess nuclear, chemical or biological weapons in 2003 when the war began. Saddam Hussein did not have an active nuclear, chemical or biological weapons program. Considering the statements that were being made by the Administration, and the intelligence that was
presented to Congress which said otherwise, this points once again to major failures in the analysis, collection and use of intelligence.
On top of these intelligence failures, the Administration’s war planning was shortsighted and ill conceived. By failing to provide adequate troop levels to secure Iraq and its borders and ignoring requests from General Shinseki and others to increase troop levels, the Administration placed the entire mission in Iraq in jeopardy.
While the situation in Iraq causes all of us deep and growing concern, I recognize that setting a specific date for withdrawal of all American troops, without completing this mission, carries with it the particular hazard that Iraq would deteriorate into chaos, civil war, and a terrorist state would evolve thereby destabilizing the Middle East. Terrorists would be re-invigorated by America turning tail and running, and would increase their efforts to attack westerners and in particular, Americans.
However, I do believe with the election of permanent Iraqi leadership coming on December 15, 2005, there will be an opportunity to assess the stability and the results of American training of Iraqi police and military. It may well be that there will be a better opportunity to then begin a withdrawal.
To further this effort, on October 6, 2005, I joined a group of thirty-eight Democratic senators and one Independent to urge President Bush to provide the American people with a clear strategy for success in Iraq. Citing the aforementioned concerns about escalating sectarian violence, the risk of an outbreak of outright civil war, and conflicting reports on the status of actual progress in training Iraqi forces, we urged the Administration to immediately provide a strategy for success in Iraq.
Specifically, the letter posed four critical questions about the Administration’s Iraq policy:
- How many Iraqi forces are needed to secure the country without U.S. assistance before U.S. forces can be withdrawn;
- What measures are planned to take place before and after the October 15th constitutional referendum to forge the necessary political consensus in Iraq and reconcile the growing sectarian and religious differences;
- What efforts are being undertaken to attain broader international support; and
- How should the American people assess the progress in reconstructing Iraq? What are the tangible results of the billions of dollars Americans have provided for Iraq’s reconstruction?
I believe the Administration must provide the answers to these basic and fundamental questions about U.S. strategy in Iraq because the American people and our men and women in uniform deserve to hear this vital information. I have attached a copy of my most recent op-ed on Iraq so that you may better understand my views of the current situation there.
Know that I will continue to carefully monitor events in the Middle East, and do my best to ensure that U.S. policy is developed in a manner that allows our men and women to come home as soon as possible. As you know, the Executive branch and both houses are all controlled by Republicans, so they bear a larger responsibility in ensuring a successful outcome in Iraq.
Again, thank you for writing. If you have any further comments, please contact my office in Washington, D.C. at (202) 224-3841, or visit my website at http://feinstein.senate.gov/. Best