As Democrats debate how best to oppose President Bush’s escalation of a war that has already squandered $400 billion and too many American and Iraqi lives, one of the Senate’s best leaders – Sen. Richard Durbin – gave a speech on the Senate floor about the need to move toward withdrawal. Durbin spoke powerfully about the deceptions, denials and delusions of this Administration as it has sold and fought the war – and, most powerfully, about the cost of the war in treasure and lives. It seems valuable, in a moment of peril, to post the speech in its entirety.
The Iraq Resolution on Military Force
Remarks Delivered on the Floor of the Senate, January 8, 2007
Mr. Durbin: Madam President, it was just a few years ago–some days seem much longer–that we considered a resolution in the Senate to authorize the use of military force in Iraq. We cast thousands of votes. Most members of Congress cannot recall too many of them specifically, unless reminded. But you never forget a vote on a war because you know that, at the end of the day, if you decide to go forward, people will die.
It is your fervent hope that it will be the enemy, of course, but you know, in honesty, that it will be American soldiers and innocent people as well. So a vote on a war is one that Members of Congress–most every one of them–take so seriously. It costs you sleep, as you think about the right thing to do.
I can recall when the vote was cast on this war in Iraq. I sat on the Intelligence Committee for months listening to the testimony and all the evidence that was brought before us, listening behind closed doors to this classified information about the situation in that country, and then emerging from that Intelligence Committee and reading newspapers and watching television, saying the American people are not being told the same thing outside that room that I am being told inside that room. There were serious differences of opinion in this administration about whether there were even weapons of mass destruction.
At one point, we challenged the administration and said: If there are weapons of mass destruction, for goodness’ sake, turn over some locations to the international inspectors. Let them find them. Once they discover them, it will confirm our fear, and other countries will join us in this effort against Saddam Hussein. But, no, they wouldn’t do it. Although they told us there were hundreds of possible locations, they wouldn’t turn over any specific location possibility to the international inspectors.
It raised a question in my mind as to whether they were very certain of any locations. And, if you remember, weapons of mass destruction were the centerpiece of the argument for the invasion of Iraq.
On Christmas Day many years later after that decision was made on the floor of this Senate, we learned that more Americans have now died in Iraq than died on September 11. Less than a week after that disclosure, on New Year’s Eve, we marked a mournful milestone in the war in Iraq: the death of the 3,000th U.S. serviceman killed in Iraq.