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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Happy Mission Accomplished Day

"In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."

Five more U.S. troops were killed in Iraq over the weekend, bringing the multinational coalition toll for April to at least 117 yesterday - the worst month for casualties in more than two years.

"Four years ago today, President Bush stood before a banner declaring 'Mission Accomplished.' Like many of his claims about the justification for going to war in Iraq, that turned out not to be the case. Indeed, his failure to have a plan to win the peace once Saddam Hussein was deposed is why our men and women in uniform are still putting their lives on the line for a failed policy. President Bush seems intent on exacerbating that failure by vetoing a bill that would change course in Iraq and end U.S. military involvement in Iraq's civil war.

The time has come for clarity and a new mission: To end the war in Iraq, to bring our troops home, and to begin restoring America's standing in the world. This is a mission America must accomplish, and the President should take a strong first step by rethinking his decision to veto the bill.

If the President does veto the bill, the Congress should send the Feingold-Reid legislation to his desk immediately."
—Chris Dodd, May 1 2007

"Four years after President Bush landed on an aircraft carrier and declared ‘Mission Accomplished,’ we are still in a war where more than one hundred American service members have died in just the month of April. We grieve for them today and urge the President to avoid making another tragic mistake by signing the bill that will end this war and bring our troops home."

"We are now one signature away from ending this war. The majority of the American people and their Congress now agree that there is no military solution to the conflict in Iraq, and that the best way to pressure the warring factions to reach a political settlement that can end this war is still a phased withdrawal of American forces with the goal of removing all combat brigades from Iraq by March 30th, 2008. It is time to end this war so we can bring our troops home and redeploy our forces to help fight the broader struggle against terrorism and other threats of this new century."
—Barack Obama, May 1 2007

"Today is the fourth anniversary of what I consider to be one of the most shameful episodes in American history.

"Never before in our history has a President said 'mission accomplished' when the mission had barely begun. Never before has a President landed on the deck of an aircraft carrier to proclaim the end of major combat operations to a war that rages on four years later. Never before has a President pulled a political stunt when so many American lives were and remain in harm's way.

"The President took us to a preemptive war of his choosing based on his assessment of faulty evidence and trumped up facts. He ignored the warnings of senior military advisors and he retaliated against those who tried to stop him. And once he got the authority to put inspectors back into Iraq, he ignored their findings. It is something that will stand as one of the darkest blots on leadership we've ever had in our nation's history.

"America is ready for a President who will respect our Armed Forces by properly planning for the missions we ask our troops to undertake. America is ready to end this war and when I am President, that’s exactly what I'll do."
—Hillary Clinton, May 1 2007

"Four years ago, President Bush flew onto the deck of the U.S.S. Lincoln under a 'Mission Accomplished' banner to declare victory in Iraq, but all the photo ops in the world can't hide the truth - his disastrous mismanagement of the war has left our troops in harm's way and made Iraq a breeding ground for terrorists.
—John Edwards, May 1 2007

From Democrats Senate.gov:


* Number of Active Duty Service-Members in Iraq: 1,113
* Number of Reserve Forces in Iraq: 855
* Number of Service-Members Killed in Iraq: 24
* Number of Service-Members Wounded in Iraq: 205
* Cost of War to the People of Connecticut: $9.2 billion

(Source: CTS Deployment File, 1/31/07; Department of Defense Personnel Statistics; nationalpriorities.org)

Stories from the Homefront...

A Connecticut soldier killed just hours into his first tour in Iraq.
"Tom Epperson doesn't know what to think. He can barely contain himself. He stands up and sits down, then stands up again. He picks things up just to put them down elsewhere -- his son's picture, some military emblems, an article that talks about his boy dying in a faraway city impossible to imagine. His 18-year-old son, Pvt. Matt Zeimer, had just arrived in Iraq, just a couple of hours at his post in Ramadi, before he was killed with another soldier. He and Spec. Alan E. McPeek from Arizona had rushed to the roof of their outpost to repel an insurgent attack." (Hartford Courant, 4/6/07)

Parents struggle to cope with every time the phone rings.
"But there's a special poignancy, even a touching bravery, about Leslie and Laurie's friendship now. Leslie's younger son, Mark Caron, and her daughter-in-law, Dulce Ayala, serve with the U.S. Air Force, both as senior airmen. Laurie's son, Liam Dwyer, is a U.S. Marine sergeant. Together, the two mothers have endured seven deployments to Iraq and nearby support bases in the Middle East. Liam is still assigned, and was recently injured, in the most dangerous sector of all, the Anbar province in the Sunni triangle west of Baghdad. The Iraq war -- which rages into its fifth year Tuesday -- remains a very public source of divisiveness, endlessly parsed and argued in the media. But the drama of parents back home with sons and daughters deployed overseas is largely a hidden, anonymous story. The jumpiness every time the phone rings, the late-night sleeplessness, the endless anxiety wrought by daily newscasts announcing still more casualties are a welter of emotions known only to the minority of families who have deployed sons or daughters in America's all-volunteer military services." (Hartford Courant, 3/18/07)

Connecticut reservists are not told of their GI Bill benefits.
"Veterans' advocate Jack Mordente says he has won a precedent-setting admission from military officials that thousands of veterans who returned from Iraq and Afghanistan, but then left the armed forces, are in fact eligible for GI Bill benefits. For his next step, Mordente, director of veterans' affairs for Southern Connecticut State University, plans to work with state Attorney Gene r a l Richard Blumenthal to force the military to notify all the affected veterans nationwide about this benefit...Blumenthal, who served with the U.S. Marine Corps, also told Mordente, 'The failure to provide these benefits to reservists -- apparently due to a Department of Defense policy of deliberately withholding information and incorrectly failing to certify individuals who are eligible -- is shocking and inexcusable.'" (New Haven Register, 3/15/07)