The Democratic Hearings on Iraq Begin

The LA Times reports on the first public hearing on Iraq held by the Democrats. Ex-Military Officers Criticize Rumsfeld covers the testimony offered today at a forum led by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.

Retired military officers on Monday bluntly accused Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld of bungling the war in Iraq, saying U.S. troops were sent to fight without the best equipment and that critical facts were hidden from the public.

As Pamela reported Saturday the Congressional Democrats had planned to hold Iraq war hearings on Capitol Hill and around the country.

The officers included retired Maj. Gen. John R. S. Batiste, retired Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, and retired Col. Paul X. Hammes. Batiste who was senior military assistant to then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, also commanded the Army’s 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, said:

“I believe that Secretary Rumsfeld and others in the administration did not tell the American people the truth for fear of losing support for the war in Iraq,”

Eaton was responsible for training the Iraqi military and later for rebuilding the Iraqi police force. [His comments:]

– planning for the postwar period was “amateurish at best, incompetent a better descriptor.”
– Rumsfeld [is] “incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically.”…..”Mr. Rumsfeld and his immediate team must be replaced or we will see two more years of extraordinarily bad decision-making,”

Hammes was responsible for establishing bases for the Iraqi armed forces. He served in Iraq in 2004 and is now Marine Senior Military Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, National Defense University.

Hammes said that not providing the best equipment was a “serious moral failure on the part of our leadership.”

The United States “did not ask our soldiers to invade France in 1944 with the same armor they trained on in 1941. Why are we asking our soldiers and Marines to use the same armor we found was insufficient in 2003?” he asked.

The Democrats were joined by one Republican, Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina, whose district includes Camp Lejeune Marine base. The rest labeled the forum a campaign stunt that “won’t kill a single terrorist or prevent a single attack,” and is ” aimed at obscuring the Democrats’ dismal record on national security.”

Could it be that recovering the Iraq debacle would decrease the number of terrorists to kill and the attacks to stop? Umm, would that ‘dismal’ record be as tragic as the Republican record?

…Senate Republicans circulated a statement by four retired generals that said, “(W)e do not believe that it is appropriate for active duty, or retired, senior military officers to publicly criticize U.S. civilian leadership during war.”

Thanks to all the generals and Col. Hammes. I greatly appreciate and admire those who are willing to speak the truth to the American public. I believe the military is also sworn to defend the Constitution. There is plenty of information that these complaints were made privately first. The response:

Rumsfeld at one point threatened to fire the next person who mentioned the need for a postwar plan in Iraq.

Recklessly criticizing the civilian leadership during a war is understandably inappropriate. These officers are simply giving substantive support for what has been established by other sources. The repeated inside failure to take input and advice from the experts is undeniably important information to pass on to Congress and the public. These men have lost soldiers from their commands. It has to be soul wrenching for them to resort to this unusual and normally unthinkable action. I salute their courage and for, again, serving this country.

Update: Although I am not a fan of Shrum or Carville, this Democracy Corps poll has good stats and analysis based on some really good poll questions (one of my usual problems with polls is the stupidly worded questions). Bottom line: Bush may have raised HIS approval ratings a notch (in some polls), but the election preferences for Congressional candidates went further to the Democrats – even in national security.

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