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I got this letter from Claire on friday. She isn’t going to wait for the vote to acquiesce.

I got this letter from Claire on friday. She goes on about how “critical” it is that we change direction in Iraq and then promptly excuses herself from doing anything about it. She isn’t going to wait for the vote to acquiesce. She is making it public right now. She is voting to fund the troops. That is the same line of crap the republicans used to frighten cowards like her into voting with them. She has adopted it herself. So….by any definition that matters, she has assumed the mantle of republicanism.  In both rhetoric and vote. Oh and does anyone know….which party did she vote with on the FISA bill last week?

Dear Mr. Fishingriver:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the war in Iraq. I appreciate hearing from you.

I believe it is critical that we begin to change our strategy in Iraq. The month of September should have been the starting point for this change. Congress received several reports during the month regarding the Iraqi’s progress toward a self-sustaining state. The reports were not good. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its audit on the Iraqi government’s progress toward meeting certain benchmarks laid out by Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki and President Bush. Of the 18 benchmarks, the Iraqi government met only three, partially met four and failed to meet eleven.

General David Petraeus, commander of Coalition forces in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, the top State Department official in that country, testified before both the House and Senate regarding the progress they were seeing. While they reported on improvements in the security situation in Baghdad and Anbar province, both the general and the ambassador acknowledged that political reconciliation was not progressing well.

As many have stated, including General Petraeus, there is no military solution to Iraq. Iraq’s future depends on political reconciliation among the Shiite, Sunnis and Kurds. The failure of the Iraqi’s to make progress toward this reconciliation angers me because the President’s justification for surging an additional 30,000 U.S. troops into Iraq was to give the Iraqi’s breathing space to come to a political agreement. America’s sons and daughters are fighting and dying and have done their part to improve security in Iraq, but the Iraqi politicians still refuse to make the hard choices that will decide Iraq’s future.

The President’s surge policy has failed. During debate on the Defense Authorization bill, I worked with my colleagues to attach language that would begin a responsible redeployment of our troops from Iraq. Sadly, Senate Republicans continued to obstruct these efforts. In the Senate, it requires 60 votes to end debate and prevent a filibuster of any measure and 67 votes to override a presidential veto. But even with a nearly united Democratic caucus and four Republicans, our efforts fell short. Republicans even prevented Democratic efforts to ensure our troops in Iraq are guaranteed as much time at home as they spend deployed in order to reduce the current strain on members of the military and their families.

I will continue to work to pressure the Commander-in-Chief to change our strategy in Iraq. [B]However, I have consistently and clearly stated that I will not support efforts to cut off funding.[B/] Without a change in strategy legislated by Congress, the President would retain too much ability to cannibalize the Defense Department budget in order to continue paying for this war. As long as our troops are in harms way I will support giving them the ammunition, body armor and other equipment they need in order to stay as safe as possible.

The brave men and women who serve in our Armed Forces have done everything that has been asked of them, and they have done it well. It is up to us, as policy makers, to ensure the strategy they are being asked to execute is worthy of their sacrifice and is truly protecting the national security interests of the United States. I will continue to fight to make sure this is true.

All best,
Senator Claire McCaskill