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I noted back on the 10th about how Democrats were playing political games with the Iraq war by being before the suggested ‘surge’ in troops in Iraq before they were against it. Well guess what? Add another Democrat to the game players: House Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes. Via the Washington Times:
On Dec. 5, Newsweek magazine touted an interview with then-incoming House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Rep. Silvestre Reyes as an “exclusive.” And for good reason.
“In a surprise twist in the debate over Iraq,” the story began, Mr. Reyes “said he wants to see an increase of 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops as part of a ‘stepped up effort to dismantle the militias.’ ”
“We have to consider the need for additional troops to be in Iraq, to take out the militias and stabilize Iraq,” the Texas Democrat said to the surprise of many, “I would say 20,000 to 30,000.”
Then came President Bush’s expected announcement last week, virtually matching Mr. Reyes’ recommendation and argument word-for-word — albeit the president proposed only 21,500 troops.
Wouldn’t you know, hours after Mr. Bush announced his proposal, Mr. Reyes told the El Paso Times that such a troop buildup was unthinkable.
“We don’t have the capability to escalate even to this minimum level,” he said.
The chairman’s “double-talk” did not go unnoticed. Among others, Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, says such blatant “hypocrisy” undermines both national security and the war on terrorism.
And just in case anyone doubts the validity of the WashTimes story about this, here’s that Dec. 5 Newsweek story on Reyes:
Dec. 5. 2006 – In a surprise twist in the debate over Iraq, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the soon-to-be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he wants to see an increase of 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops as part of a stepped up effort to “dismantle the militias.”
The soft-spoken Texas Democrat was an early opponent of the Iraq war and voted against the October 2002 resolution authorizing President Bush to invade that country. That dovish record got prominently cited last week when Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi chose Reyes as the new head of the intelligence panel.
But in an interview with NEWSWEEK on Tuesday, Reyes pointedly distanced himself from many of his Democratic colleagues who have called for fixed timetables for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Coming on the eve of tomorrow’s recommendations from the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton commission, Reyes’s comments were immediately cited by some Iraq war analysts as fresh evidence that the intense debate over U.S. policy may be more fluid than many have expected.
“We’re not going to have stability in Iraq until we eliminate those militias, those private armies” Reyes said. “We have to consider the need for additional troops to be in Iraq, to take out the militias and stabilize Iraq â€¦ We certainly can’t leave Iraq and run the risk that it becomes [like] Afghanistan” was before the 2001 invasion by the United States.
When asked how many additional troops he envisioned sending to Iraq, Reyes replied: “I would say 20,000 to 30,000—for the specific purpose of making sure those militias are dismantled, working in concert with the Iraqi military.”
Reyes added that he was “very clear” about his position to Pelosi when she chose him over two rivals—Rep. Jane Harman of California and Rep. Alcee Hastings—to head the critical intelligence post. One widely cited reason that Harman, a moderate Democrat who supported the war, didn’t get the nod from Pelosi is that the Speaker-designate wanted somebody who would be more aggressive in standing up to the Bush White House—which Reyes promises to be on other issues like domestic wiretapping and CIA secret prisons.
But when asked what he told Pelosi about his thinking on Iraq, Reyes replied: “What I said was, we can’t afford to leave there. And anybody who says, we are going pull out our troops immediately, is being dishonest â€¦ We’re all interested in getting out of Iraq. That’s a common goal. How we do it, I think, is the tough part. There are those that say, they don’t care what Iraq looks like once we leave there. Let’s just leave there. And I argue against that. I don’t think that’s responsible. And I think it plays right into the hands of Syria and Iran.”
Here’s Reyes’ flip flop, as reported in the El Paso Times on 1/11/07:
President Bush’s announcement Wednesday evening that he would send about 21,500 more soldiers and Marines to Iraq drew a mixed reaction from El Paso residents, and local officials said they weren’t aware he planned to use Fort Bliss Patriot missile units to defend U.S. allies in the region.
Bush had been expected to announce that he would send a “surge” of troops to Baghdad and to Al Anbar Province in an effort to stop sectarian violence and control the al-Quaida insurgency so the country’s fledgling government can establish itself.
“We don’t have the capability to escalate even to this minimal level,” said U.S. Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, referring to the availability of troops. “The president has not changed direction, but is simply changing tactics.”
Reyes, who met with Bush on Tuesday to review the plan, said sending more troops removes any incentive the Iraqi government had to take responsibility for the safety of its own citizens. He added that Bush was continuing his “go-it-alone” approach, rather than trying to find diplomatic solutions.
I wrote this in my intial post on Dem flip flops on the surge, and I believe it’s worth repeating today:
They simply cannot be trusted to tell the truth, nor can they be trusted to be in the driver’s seat in a time of war. That these shameless, dishonest, disingenuous, anti-war, cut and run, stuck-in-Vietnam clowns are going to be micromanaging the President’s every move over the next two years on the war on terror is a travesty of epic proportions, and is already proving to be disastrous.
Hat tip on the El Paso Times link: Jason Smith, who was on top of this story back when Reyes first made the comments earlier this month.