by Max Brantley
Several asked for a statement from U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder on his vote against the Iraq withdrawal legislation. Here it is:
“Even though I voted against the authorization of force resolution in October 2002, I voted against H.R. 2956 for several reasons. First, the ambiguous language would have had no effect on the war. The key language from the bill is as follows:
“A) Requirement - The Secretary of Defense shall commence the reduction of the number of Armed Forces in Iraq beginning not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act and shall complete the reduction and transition to a limited presence of the Armed Forces in Iraq by not later than April 1, 2008.”
“The term “limited presence” is undefined. It was clear from the informal discussions we had in the one day we had to evaluate this language that the President could have brought a hundred, or twenty, or just five troops home and declared the remainder a “limited presence”, and the language of the bill would have been satisfied. I know that is not how the language is being spun today, but that is what the language says. Perhaps this ambiguity explains why Democrats as diverse as Dennis Kucinich and Gene Taylor voted against the bill.
“Second, General Petraeus and our troops are currently in the midst of major military operations on which he is legally required to report back to Congress in mid-September. He is one of our most respected military leaders, and my expectation is that the hearings and public discussions that follow his formal report will generate the kind of major foreign policy debate regarding the future of America’s participation in the Iraq war that will lead to changes.
“Third, it is vital that we as a nation focus not just on troop strength, but also on what is our strategy in the region; and by strategy, we must mean more than occasionally sending Secretary Rice on a belated trip to the Middle East.
“On Thursday, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, of which I am chairman, began a series of hearings that will continue through the month of July on other options for U.S. foreign policy towards Iraq. I am hopeful that the entire Congress will have these kinds of discussions in anticipation of General Petraeus’ mid–September report so that our troops and their families get the kind of deliberative decisions on the conduct of the war they deserve.”