The following, not including my comments, came from Dick Durbin's staff as a result of an email which I sent to him a few days ago. Look for my better written version of that email on my blog posted a few days ago.
Thank you for letting me know of your opposition to the war in Iraq. I appreciate hearing from you.
I agree that our policy toward Iraq needs a new direction. I voted against the resolution authorizing this war, and since then, far too many of our men and women in uniform have died there. With our involvement now in its fifth year, more than 3,500 American soldiers have been killed and more than 25,000 have been wounded, including thousands who have suffered life-changing injuries such as traumatic brain injury or the loss of a limb. In addition to these losses, this war is costing us $2 billion each week. Add to this the escalating sectarian violence and the unknown number of innocent Iraqi civilians who have perished as a result, and it is clear the Bush Administration lacks a coherent strategy to stabilize Iraq and achieve victory.
JP: I didn't know Senator Richard Durbin voted against the resolution authorizing the war. I suspect there were several points at which Congress had the chance to delay, or stop our headlong rush to war. I'm hoping Senator Richard Durbin consistently voted against the war. If so, my hat is off to him since I was duped by Bush into supporting the war. I honestly believed that our intelligence community must have possessed evidence of weapons of mass destruction. I like most were fooled by lies from the Bush Administration. Who would have believed any administration would stoop so low after the attacks on the twin towers as to lie to the American people, and the world about who was responsible?
The invasion of Iraq was possibly the greatest policy failure of any administration in our nation's history. It is time for a new policy that will start bringing our troops home. Congress went on record in support of a phased withdrawal when it approved a supplemental spending bill containing a timetable for redeploying our troops from Iraq. Tragically, President Bush vetoed that bill and vowed to do the same with any other bill that included a timetable. We do not yet have the votes to compel him to change course, but the supplemental appropriations bill Congress ultimately sent to the President is not the end of the debate on the war in Iraq. This debate will continue until the President relents and implements a plan to bring our troops home.
JP: It's too bad that Congress can't keep sending bills to the President anyway - like one bill a week until Bush is kicked out of office. The Democrats could say they sent a hundred bills to the President only to have the President veto them all. I don't think the American people would blame the Democrats for the war or for dragging their feet. They'd know the Republicans, and the Bush Administration was completely to blame for keeping our troops in Iraq.
The measure that was signed into law takes one small step. It requires the Iraqi government to adhere to specific conditions in order to continue to receive economic assistance from the United States. The President may waive that provision, but to do so he must justify the waiver and describe the actions being taken to bring the Iraqi government into compliance. Ultimately, however, the bill lacks the clear timetable for redeployment that many of us worked hard to include.
JP: Symbolism only, and I dare say that this one measure was not enough.
Our troops have done everything we have asked of them. We owe it to them and their families to hold our government accountable and continue to press for a new direction. We must make it clear to Iraq's political leaders and its people that they must take responsibility for the future of their nation, engage in an effective reconciliation process, and establish and maintain peace with the help of a trained and fully functioning Iraqi security force. The Iraqis face a difficult road ahead, and we should continue to help them as they strive to move forward. But by continuing our current open-ended military commitment in Iraq, the Bush Administration is simply prolonging the day when the U.S. soldiers there are able to return home to their families. I am saddened and angered by the Administration's insistence on continuing and escalating our role in what is now an Iraqi civil war. I will continue to push for a new direction that brings our troops home.JP: This was some good boilerplate. Obviously Senator Durbin doesn't have time to respond to every letter, or email, but he probably approved the text. Nothing new here, but in a way that's reassuring in the sense that what I hear him say on CSPAN is what he's telling everyone, and that's that he wants to bring our troops home.