While the White House hammada-hammadas over the recent revelation that the threat to the United States from al-Qaeda is as real and as strong as it was at the start of Bush's Global War
Of On Terror, Democrats express their outrage over the fact that we are not any safer now than we were before Bush began his effort.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) said the current situation in Iraq "has helped to energize" al-Qaeda. "Changing our strategy in Iraq and narrowing our military mission to countering al-Qaeda terrorism -- as a bipartisan majority in the Senate now favors -- would be the single greatest thing we could do to undermine al-Qaeda's ability to use Iraq as a recruiting and propaganda tool fueling the growth of regional terrorist groups," he said in a statement.
Al-Qaeda's participation in the Iraqi violence has figured particularly heavily in recent administration arguments for a continued U.S. troop presence there, because White House strategists regard it as a politically salable reason for staying and continuing to fight.
Some terrorism analysts say Bush has used inflated rhetoric to depict al-Qaeda in Iraq as part of the same group of extremists that attacked the United States on Sept. 11 -- noting that the group did not exist until after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. These analysts say Bush also has overlooked the contribution that U.S. actions have made to the growth of al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has been described as kind of a franchise of the main al-Qaeda network headed by bin Laden.
Paul R. Pillar, a former CIA analyst who has been involved in previous intelligence estimates, said that the administration has correctly identified the danger posed by al-Qaeda in Iraq and that there are indeed links between the Iraq group and the larger international terrorist network. But he said the White House is drawing the wrong conclusion, and argued instead that it is the U.S. presence in Iraq that is fueling the terrorists' cause.
'Al Qaeda is stronger,' so says the report. The president disagrees but that's what the report says. You can't have it both ways," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
"After almost six years, awesome sacrifices by our brave men and women in uniform, and hundreds of billions of dollars spent, we are no safer than we were on 9/11," said Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, a 2008 Democratic presidential contender.
The NIE says Al Qaeda will try and use the contacts and abilities it has gained in Iraq to attack inside the U.S., and Democrats say that shows the war is at best a distraction.
"Al Qaeda has gotten stronger as a result of the policies of this administration, and they now are in Iraq where they were not in Iraq prior to the Iraq war," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and sponsor of legislation to pull out all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by April 2008.
In the House, Democratic leaders said the findings bolster their push for Congress to adopt recommendations offered by the Sept. 11 commission in 2004. Earlier in the day, House leaders appointed conferees to go to negotiations with senators and hammer out differing versions of bills passed by both chambers earlier this year.
"What we are doing today will go a long ways towards refocusing this country and hopefully this administration on what the real deal is," said House Democratic Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina.
The NIE report shows that Al Qaeda "is reconstituting its threat to the United States, is as severe as it has ever been. So, it's upon us to get this legislation to the president before we adjourn ... to help America make itself more secure both at the ports of entry -- be it airport, cargo -- also for nuclear material," added House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel.
George W. Bush told this nation that the sacrifices we were making were necessary and needed in order to defeat what he called the forces of evil.
What utter bullshit. Bush has failed.
We should not wait until the inauguration in January, 2009 of a Democratic President to begin the process of really securing the homeland. Democrats should cautiously but deliberately move forward with their own initiatives, and begin the process of systematically securing our nation -- and let the President veto those efforts if he so chooses, and let the obstructionists Republicans in the Senate filibuster and block those efforts if they so choose as well.
If we're going to defeat those in those in this world who threaten our security and peace, it is obvious that we'll have to start that process by defeating the Republicans and their bungling efforts that are now preventing that from happening.
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