Tuesday, February 06, 2007

They Write Press Releases

Obama, Thompson and Murphy Introduce Plan to De-Escalate and End the War in Iraq

Senator Barack Obama Along With Congressmen Mike Thompson and Patrick Murphy Introduced Legislation That Stops President Bush's Escalation and Sets a Timeline for Redeployment From Iraq

(Washington, D.C.) - Today, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), Congressman Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA) called for a stop to President Bush's escalation in Iraq and for an end to the war. At a press conference in the U.S. Capitol, Senator Obama and Reps. Thompson and Murphy discussed the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007 - legislation they introduced in the Senate and the House which puts forward a plan to stop the recent escalation in forces and a plan to redeploy American troops from Iraq starting May 1, 2007. Senator Obama introduced the bill in the Senate and Reps. Thompson and Murphy introduced the companion legislation in the House of Representatives. Congressman Thompson is a Vietnam Veteran and a former U.S. Army staff sergeant/platoon leader with the 173rd Airborne Brigade and Congressman Murphy is a former U.S. Army Captain and Iraq war veteran.

"Our troops have preformed brilliantly in Iraq, but no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else's civil war," Senator Obama said. "That's why our plan not only stops the escalation of this war, but begins a phased redeployment that can pressure the Iraqis to finally reach a political settlement and brings all U.S. combat troops home by March of next year."

"Our troops have done an amazing job, but success in Iraq will only be achieved by the Iraqis themselves," said Congressman Mike Thompson. "Sending more troops into the heart of Iraq's civil war will only put more American lives at risk. This legislation provides a practical plan for ending the war as safely and quickly as possible."

"As someone who served in Baghdad with the 82nd Airborne, I can tell you that what's needed in Iraq is a surge in diplomacy, not an escalation of force. This legislation seeks a much-needed political solution and puts forward a tough and sensible plan to end the war," said Congressman Patrick Murphy. "We shouldn't be sending American men and women to referee a civil war. Our troops have done their job, now it's time to start bringing them home and to force more Iraqis to come off the sidelines and fight for their country."

The binding legislation ends President Bush's escalation by capping the number of troops at January 10, 2007 levels, puts forward specific benchmarks for success in Iraq and establishes a timeline to redeploy our troops. Redeployment, according to the bill, would begin no later than May 1, 2007, with the goal of all combat brigades redeployed by March 31, 2008 - a date consistent with the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group. Troops would be sent either home to their families in the U.S., to Afghanistan where more troops are needed to fight the war on terror or would remain in the region to train Iraqis, protect against more violence and perform counterterrorist activities. The Iraq War De-Escalation Act will refocus the efforts of American armed forces on Afghanistan and the hunt for Osama bin Laden and urges the president to send, within 60 days, a Special Envoy to Iraq to begin the important work of diplomacy with key nations in the region.

In addition, if the Iraqi government meets certain political, diplomatic and reconstruction benchmarks outlined by the Administration, the plan allows for the temporary suspension (for no more than 90 days) of troops redeployments, however only with congressional approval.

Thompson is a Vietnam veteran who served in combat with the U.S. Army as a staff sergeant/platoon leader with the 173rd Airborne Brigade where he was wounded and received a Purple Heart.

Prior to being elected to Congress, Patrick Murphy served as a Captain in the U.S. Army and was deployed to Bosnia and to Iraq with the 82nd Airborne where he was awarded the Bronze Star. He is the first and only Iraq war veteran to serve in Congress. He is a former West Point professor and criminal prosecutor.

Summary of the Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007 (HR 787

Requires congressional approval for sending any additional troops to Iraq beyond the number in Iraq on January 10, 2007.

Commences redeployment of US troops no later than May 1, 2007 with all combat brigades out by March 31, 2008.

Allows for a limited number of US troops to remain as basic force protection, to engage in counter-terrorism, and to continue the training of Iraqi security forces.

If the Iraqis are successful in meeting the 13 benchmarks for progress laid out by the Administration, the plan allows for the temporary suspension of this redeployment (for no more than 90 days), subject to the agreement of Congress. The President must provide Congress with a full explanation of why he is temporarily suspending redeployment.

Requires the President to submit quarterly reports to Congress describing and assessing the Iraqi government's progress in meeting benchmarks and the redeployment goals.

Conditions future economic assistance to Iraq on significant progress toward achievement of benchmarks. Allows exceptions for humanitarian, security, and job-creation assistance.

Requires Iraq to fulfill its commitment to spend not less than $10 billion for reconstruction, job creation, and economic development without regard for the ethnic or sectarian make-up of Iraqi regions.

Recommends the President appoint a Special Envoy for Iraq to carry out this diplomacy within 60 days. Mandates that the President submit a plan to prevent the war in Iraq from becoming a wider regional conflict.

And, with that, it's time to start rewarding good behavior. We helped Patrick Murphy get into office. He ran as an anti-war candidate despite receiving much contrary advice. And he's doing what he can, so if you've got a few extra nickels consider contributing to his re-election fund. I'll continue to add other freshman to the incumbent list going forward.