February 9, 2006- President Continues to Nickel-and-Dime War on Terror, While Iraq Gets a Blank Check

Washington, DC:  Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee, made the following remarks in response to President Bush’s speech on terrorism today at the National Guard Memorial Building in Washington:

“There is nothing more important than protecting the safety of the American people, and our brave men and women in uniform on the front lines in the effort to secure our homeland have earned our deep, enduring gratitude and respect.  Four and a half years after 9/11, we have made important improvements in our national security, but many loopholes remain, and the U.S. is still the number one target for Al Qaeda terrorists. 

“The Bush Administration continues to nickel-and-dime homeland security, while writing a blank check for the War in Iraq.  The President’s budget released earlier this week provides only $30.9 billion in net discretionary funding for the Department of Homeland Security, which is only about 7 percent of the total provided to the Department of Defense.  The budget also does not include the massive expenses that our nation is bearing in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Every month, we are spending about $6 billion on the war in Iraq.  One of the reasons that our nation is shouldering such an enormous burden is the Bush Administration’s failure to build the type of coalition President George H.W. Bush established prior to the Gulf War in 1991.  As Iraq continues to deteriorate into chaos, we are furnishing Al Qaeda with the ultimate training ground for its terrorist operatives and a powerful recruiting tool that attracts fresh men and women to its twisted cause.”

“In his speech today, President Bush spoke of a ‘false choice’ established by the Muslim terrorists – a false choice promulgated by terrorists that there are only two visions for the future: and Islamic one and a Western one.  The President himself has established a ‘false choice’ of his own – asserting that there is one way of winning the war on terror – and any suggestions or questions about the President’s approach are ‘undermining the efforts to win the war on terror.’ 

“I agree with the President that we must not let our guard down, that the United States must take on new efforts to tackle the challenges that this new war presents us, and that we must move quickly to plug holes in our national security. But I disagree with the President that we must break the law and undermine the U.S. Constitution in order to defend democratic values around the world.  We can preserve American values and aggressively protect our nation’s security,” said Rep. Markey.  “The President needs to take the lead in standing up to industry and protecting our ports, chemical and nuclear facilities and transport infrastructure. We need to require inspection of all the commercial cargo carried on passenger planes, instead of giving boarding passes to packages that have never been inspected for bombs.  We need to insist upon strong security safeguards for our chemical and nuclear plants, instead of making mere suggestions that industry should consider security upgrades.  We must keep dangerous items such as sharp scissor blades out of the passenger cabins of airlines, rather than loosening security requirements that had been in place since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  On issue after issue, the Bush Administration bends to the wishes of industry when it should be instituting security requirements.

Markey continued, “Today the President also asserted that his war on terror has garnered support with our allies but the facts are not friendly – our tactics of torturing terrorist suspects and the President’s extra constitutional measures have driven away allies that we depend on for intelligence and coordination in capturing terrorists world wide.”

PRESIDENT BUSH’S FACTS ON OUR FRIENDS AND ALLIES IN THE WAR ON TERROR ARE NOT THAT FRIENDLY . . .

PRESIDENT BUSH: “Some said that an aggressive strategy of bringing the war to the terrorists would cost us international support. It would drive nations from our coalition. The opposite's happened.” (Today’s speech to the National Guard, 2/09/06)

FACT: The “Coalition of the Willing” in Iraq has shrunk from “a 2003 high of 38 nations and 50,000 troops to 28 nations and about 20,000 soldiers.” Italy and South Korea are scheduled to begin drawing down their troops in Iraq within months, while Spain and the Netherlands have nearly removed all their troops from the region.
-“The Incredible Shrinking Coalition,” Asia Times 1/10/06
 
FACT: In 2003, a Milan court issued an arrest warrant for 22 CIA officers suspected of kidnapping an Egyptian Cleric without the knowledge of local authorities who had the suspect under investigation. The kidnapped suspect later alleged that he had been tortured after the CIA transferred him to Egyptian custody.
-“EU Arrest Warrant Issued for 22 CIA Operatives,” Reuters, 12/23/06
 
FACT: The CIA mistakenly detained a German citizen, Khaled Masri, for five months. Masri was shipped to Afghanistan where he was imprisoned during the ordeal, all because of a case of mistaken identity. In 2004, the Bush administration had to dispatch their Ambassador to Germany to apologize to the country’s Interior Minister for the ordeal.
-“Wrongful Imprisonment: Anatomy of a CIA Mistake,” Washington Post, 12/4/05
 
FACT: Last December, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice came under fire during a trip to Europe after allegations surfaced that the Bush Administration had been running a covert prison system in Eastern Europe. Questions were raised as to whether or not flights bearing terrorism suspects who were being rendered to countries known to torture had passed through European airports.
-“Detainee flights have saved European lives, says Rice,” The Guardian, 12/5/06 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 8, 2006


 

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Mark Bayer
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