Congress Sent Wrong Message
WASHINGTON, February 16, 2007 -
The leader of the nation’s largest wartime veterans’ organization provided the following statement in response to the House vote disapproving the President’s decision to deploy more than 20,000 additional combat troops to the Iraqi theater.
“Congress may consider its vote today on H. Con. Res. 63 to be non-binding, but veterans of previous wars and those in the field of combat right now consider Congress’s action to be a betrayal of trust and the first step toward surrender to the terrorists who caused this war in the first place.
“We must never forget the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when two U.S. commercial aircraft were used to kill nearly 3,000 innocent people in an unprovoked attack against our nation’s sovereignty. We must never forget those brave Americans who downed their plane in Pennsylvania, saving the lives of many in the Capitol. We must never forget the attack on the Pentagon, or on the USS Cole, or our embassies, or our Marine barracks in Beirut. The list goes on and on.
“Even the Clinton administration tried to kill Osama bin Laden by lobbing missiles at him. This war didn’t just start with the invasion of Iraq. It’s been going on for decades. It’s been going on in Republican and Democrat administrations and Congresses.
“It isn’t about partisan politics. It’s about America. It’s about all of us, and especially those who are at this moment risking their lives on the field of battle.
“Americans are not the enemy here. The terrorists and all of those governments that support them are the enemy. We must never forget that. And, equally important, we must never forget the primary lesson learned in Vietnam: you cannot separate the war from the warrior.
“Congress can talk all it wants to about how it supports the troops. But its actions set the table. The message they sent today to the frontline is that America is preparing to cut and run. We essentially told our fighting men and women that ‘we have taken step one in the plan to cut reinforcements, to cut armaments, and to withdraw any support you need to complete your mission.’
“The Speaker characterized it succinctly when she said, “(t)his legislation will signal a change in direction that will end the fighting and bring our troops home.’
“What she failed to add was ‘… in defeat, and without completing the mission they were trained to complete and ready to win if only America had not given up before they did.’
“The American Legion and the American people find this to be totally unacceptable and we will do everything within our power to ensure that our troops are not used as political pawns by a Congress that lacks the will to win.”