Hospitals & Asylums    




The Democratic Response to the State of the Union Adress HA-24-1-07

Anthony J. Sanders

SEN. VOINOVICH: a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, today released the following statement regarding the new direction in Iraq and the call for a surge in troops. Sen. Voinovich met with President Bush in the White House on Friday to discuss the current situation. Also in attendance were Vice President Cheney, Secretary Rice, National Security Advisor Hadley, Gen. Peter Pace and top White House officials. He also attended a three-hour classified intelligence briefing yesterday. Sen. Voinovich’s statement follows:

I have been waiting for the administration to extend an olive branch in an attempt to forge a compromise – a compromise that clearly expresses our concerns while leaving no doubt in the minds of our troops as well as our enemies that we stand united as a nation. I obviously have been disappointed since that has not happened. However, I remain hopeful that there will be a compromise that puts Congress and the White House on the same page so that we can move forward united as a nation.

At this point I am skeptical that a surge in troops alone will bring an end to sectarian violence and the insurgency that is fomenting instability in Iraq. The generals who have served there do not believe additional troops alone will help. And my faith in Prime Minister al-Maliki’s political will to make the hard choices necessary to bring about a political solution is fragile at best. What we need first is a political solution between Sunni Arabs and Shia militias that are adding to the violence.

Since the day the president announced his plans for a so-called surge of additional troops into Baghdad, I have been skeptical as to whether this would ultimately be successful. Or, rather, would it do more harm than good? Now, after a three-hour security briefing with senior intelligence officials, three meetings at the White House and a number of hearings, I’m even more skeptical now than I was before about how this would impact our national security and what it would mean for our men and women we’d be sending into Baghdad.  Over the next month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, of which I am a member, will hold three hearings a week on Iraq.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Vice President Cheney, members of Congress, distinguished citizens and fellow citizens: Every year, by law and by custom, we meet here to consider the state of the union. This year, we gather in this chamber deeply aware of decisive days that lie ahead.

President George W. Bush delivers his State of the Union address to the nation and a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2003.   White House photo by Susan SternerYou and I serve our country in a time of great consequence. During this session of Congress, we have the duty to reform domestic programs vital to our country; we have the opportunity to save millions of lives abroad from a terrible disease. We will work for a prosperity that is broadly shared, and we will answer every danger and every enemy that threatens the American people. (Applause.)

In all these days of promise and days of reckoning, we can be confident. In a whirlwind of change and hope and peril, our faith is sure, our resolve is firm, and our union is strong. (Applause.)

This country has many challenges. We will not deny, we will not ignore, we will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, to other presidents, and other generations. (Applause.) We will confront them with focus and clarity and courage.

During the last two years, we have seen what can be accomplished when we work together. To lift the standards of our public schools, we achieved historic education reform -- which must now be carried out in every school and in every classroom, so that every child in America can read and learn and succeed in life. (Applause.) To protect our country, we reorganized our government and created the Department of Homeland Security, which is mobilizing against the threats of a new era. To bring our economy out of recession, we delivered the largest tax relief in a generation. (Applause.) To insist on integrity in American business we passed tough reforms, and we are holding corporate criminals to account. (Applause.)

Some might call this a good record; I call it a good start. Tonight I ask the House and Senate to join me in the next bold steps to serve our fellow citizens.

Our first goal is clear: We must have an economy that grows fast enough to employ every man and woman who seeks a job. (Applause.) After recession, terrorist attacks, corporate scandals and stock market declines, our economy is recovering -- yet it's not growing fast enough, or strongly enough. With unemployment rising, our nation needs more small businesses to open, more companies to invest and expand, more employers to put up the sign that says, "Help Wanted." (Applause.)

Jobs are created when the economy grows; the economy grows when Americans have more money to spend and invest; and the best and fairest way to make sure Americans have that money is not to tax it away in the first place. (Applause.)

Congress applauds President Bush during his State of the Union Address at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday Jan. 28, 2003. Discussing the spread of the AIDS virus, President Bush asked Congress to commit $15 billion in aid for African nations and the Caribbean tormented by the disease. “The qualities of courage and compassion that we strive for in America also determine our conduct abroad,” said the President. “This conviction leads us into the world to help the afflicted, and defend the peace, and confound the designs of evil men.”   White House photo by Paul MorseI am proposing that all the income tax reductions set for 2004 and 2006 be made permanent and effective this year. (Applause.) And under my plan, as soon as I sign the bill, this extra money will start showing up in workers' paychecks. Instead of gradually reducing the marriage penalty, we should do it now. (Applause.) Instead of slowly raising the child credit to $1,000, we should send the checks to American families now. (Applause.)

The tax relief is for everyone who pays income taxes -- and it will help our economy immediately: 92 million Americans will keep, this year, an average of almost $1,000 more of their own money. A family of four with an income of $40,000 would see their federal income taxes fall from $1,178 to $45 per year. (Applause.) Our plan will improve the bottom line for more than 23 million small businesses.

You, the Congress, have already passed all these reductions, and promised them for future years. If this tax relief is good for Americans three, or five, or seven years from now, it is even better for Americans today. (Applause.)

We should also strengthen the economy by treating investors equally in our tax laws. It's fair to tax a company's profits. It is not fair to again tax the shareholder on the same profits. (Applause.) To boost investor confidence, and to help the nearly 10 million senior who receive dividend income, I ask you to end the unfair double taxation of dividends. (Applause.)

Lower taxes and greater investment will help this economy expand. More jobs mean more taxpayers, and higher revenues to our government. The best way to address the deficit and move toward a balanced budget is to encourage economic growth, and to show some spending discipline in Washington, D.C. (Applause.)

We must work together to fund only our most important priorities. I will send you a budget that increases discretionary spending by 4 percent next year -- about as much as the average family's income is expected to grow. And that is a good benchmark for us. Federal spending should not rise any faster than the paychecks of American families. (Applause.)

A growing economy and a focus on essential priorities will also be crucial to the future of Social Security. As we continue to work together to keep Social Security sound and reliable, we must offer younger workers a chance to invest in retirement accounts that they will control and they will own. (Applause.)

President George W. Bush reacts to applause while delivering the State of the Union address at the U.S. Capitol, Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2003. Also pictured are Vice President Dick Cheney, left, and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.  White House photo by Eric DraperOur second goal is high quality, affordable health care for all Americans. (Applause.) The American system of medicine is a model of skill and innovation, with a pace of discovery that is adding good years to our lives. Yet for many people, medical care costs too much -- and many have no coverage at all. These problems will not be solved with a nationalized health care system that dictates coverage and rations care. (Applause.)

Instead, we must work toward a system in which all Americans have a good insurance policy, choose their own doctors, and seniors and low-income Americans receive the help they need. (Applause.) Instead of bureaucrats and trial lawyers and HMOs, we must put doctors and nurses and patients back in charge of American medicine. (Applause.)

Health care reform must begin with Medicare; Medicare is the binding commitment of a caring society. (Applause.) We must renew that commitment by giving seniors access to preventive medicine and new drugs that are transforming health care in America.

Seniors happy with the current Medicare system should be able to keep their coverage just the way it is. (Applause.) And just like you -- the members of Congress, and your staffs, and other federal employees -- all seniors should have the choice of a health care plan that provides prescription drugs. (Applause.)

My budget will commit an additional $400 billion over the next decade to reform and strengthen Medicare. Leaders of both political parties have talked for years about strengthening Medicare. I urge the members of this new Congress to act this year. (Applause.)

To improve our health care system, we must address one of the prime causes of higher cost, the constant threat that physicians and hospitals will be unfairly sued. (Applause.) Because of excessive litigation, everybody pays more for health care, and many parts of America are losing fine doctors. No one has ever been healed by a frivolous lawsuit. I urge the Congress to pass medical liability reform. (Applause.)

Our third goal is to promote energy independence for our country, while dramatically improving the environment. (Applause.) I have sent you a comprehensive energy plan to promote energy efficiency and conservation, to develop cleaner technology, and to produce more energy at home. (Applause.) I have sent you Clear Skies legislation that mandates a 70-percent cut in air pollution from power plants over the next 15 years. (Applause.) I have sent you a Healthy Forests Initiative, to help prevent the catastrophic fires that devastate communities, kill wildlife, and burn away millions of acres of treasured forest. (Applause.)

President George W. Bush hands Vice President Dick Cheney and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (not pictured) a copy of his State of the Union Address upon his arrival to the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2003.   White House photo by Eric DraperI urge you to pass these measures, for the good of both our environment and our economy. (Applause.) Even more, I ask you to take a crucial step and protect our environment in ways that generations before us could not have imagined.

In this century, the greatest environmental progress will come about not through endless lawsuits or command-and-control regulations, but through technology and innovation. Tonight I'm proposing $1.2 billion in research funding so that America can lead the world in developing clean, hydrogen-powered automobiles. (Applause.)

A single chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen generates energy, which can be used to power a car -- producing only water, not exhaust fumes. With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom, so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free. (Applause.)

Join me in this important innovation to make our air significantly cleaner, and our country much less dependent on foreign sources of energy. (Applause.)

Our fourth goal is to apply the compassion of America to the deepest problems of America. For so many in our country -- the homeless and the fatherless, the addicted -- the need is great. Yet there's power, wonder-working power, in the goodness and idealism and faith of the American people.

Americans are doing the work of compassion every day -- visiting prisoners, providing shelter for battered women, bringing companionship to lonely seniors. These good works deserve our praise; they deserve our personal support; and when appropriate, they deserve the assistance of the federal government. (Applause.)

I urge you to pass both my faith-based initiative and the Citizen Service Act, to encourage acts of compassion that can transform America, one heart and one soul at a time. (Applause.)

Last year, I called on my fellow citizens to participate in the USA Freedom Corps, which is enlisting tens of thousands of new volunteers across America. Tonight I ask Congress and the American people to focus the spirit of service and the resources of government on the needs of some of our most vulnerable citizens -- boys and girls trying to grow up without guidance and attention, and children who have to go through a prison gate to be hugged by their mom or dad.

After delivering his State of the Union speech, President Bush waves to his wife, Laura Bush, as he leaves the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2003.   White House photo by Eric DraperI propose a $450-million initiative to bring mentors to more than a million disadvantaged junior high students and children of prisoners. Government will support the training and recruiting of mentors; yet it is the men and women of America who will fill the need. One mentor, one person can change a life forever. And I urge you to be that one person. (Applause.)

Another cause of hopelessness is addiction to drugs. Addiction crowds out friendship, ambition, moral conviction, and reduces all the richness of life to a single destructive desire. As a government, we are fighting illegal drugs by cutting off supplies and reducing demand through anti-drug education programs. Yet for those already addicted, the fight against drugs is a fight for their own lives. Too many Americans in search of treatment cannot get it. So tonight I propose a new $600-million program to help an additional 300,000 Americans receive treatment over the next three years. (Applause.)

Our nation is blessed with recovery programs that do amazing work. One of them is found at the Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A man in the program said, "God does miracles in people's lives, and you never think it could be you." Tonight, let us bring to all Americans who struggle with drug addiction this message of hope: The miracle of recovery is possible, and it could be you. (Applause.)

By caring for children who need mentors, and for addicted men and women who need treatment, we are building a more welcoming society -- a culture that values every life. And in this work we must not overlook the weakest among us. I ask you to protect infants at the very hour of their birth and end the practice of partial-birth abortion. (Applause.) And because no human life should be started or ended as the object of an experiment, I ask you to set a high standard for humanity, and pass a law against all human cloning. (Applause.)

The qualities of courage and compassion that we strive for in America also determine our conduct abroad. The American flag stands for more than our power and our interests. Our founders dedicated this country to the cause of human dignity, the rights of every person, and the possibilities of every life. This conviction leads us into the world to help the afflicted, and defend the peace, and confound the designs of evil men.

In Afghanistan, we helped liberate an oppressed people. And we will continue helping them secure their country, rebuild their society, and educate all their children -- boys and girls. (Applause.) In the Middle East, we will continue to seek peace between a secure Israel and a democratic Palestine. (Applause.) Across the Earth, America is feeding the hungry -- more than 60 percent of international food aid comes as a gift from the people of the United States. As our nation moves troops and builds alliances to make our world safer, we must also remember our calling as a blessed country is to make this world better.

Today, on the continent of Africa, nearly 30 million people have the AIDS virus -- including 3 million children under the age 15. There are whole countries in Africa where more than one-third of the adult population carries the infection. More than 4 million require immediate drug treatment. Yet across that continent, only 50,000 AIDS victims -- only 50,000 -- are receiving the medicine they need.

Because the AIDS diagnosis is considered a death sentence, many do not seek treatment. Almost all who do are turned away. A doctor in rural South Africa describes his frustration. He says, "We have no medicines. Many hospitals tell people, you've got AIDS, we can't help you. Go home and die." In an age of miraculous medicines, no person should have to hear those words. (Applause.)

AIDS can be prevented. Anti-retroviral drugs can extend life for many years. And the cost of those drugs has dropped from $12,000 a year to under $300 a year -- which places a tremendous possibility within our grasp. Ladies and gentlemen, seldom has history offered a greater opportunity to do so much for so many.

We have confronted, and will continue to confront, HIV/AIDS in our own country. And to meet a severe and urgent crisis abroad, tonight I propose the Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief -- a work of mercy beyond all current international efforts to help the people of Africa. This comprehensive plan will prevent 7 million new AIDS infections, treat at least 2 million people with life-extending drugs, and provide humane care for millions of people suffering from AIDS, and for children orphaned by AIDS. (Applause.)

I ask the Congress to commit $15 billion over the next five years, including nearly $10 billion in new money, to turn the tide against AIDS in the most afflicted nations of Africa and the Caribbean. (Applause.)

This nation can lead the world in sparing innocent people from a plague of nature. And this nation is leading the world in confronting and defeating the man-made evil of international terrorism. (Applause.)

There are days when our fellow citizens do not hear news about the war on terror. There's never a day when I do not learn of another threat, or receive reports of operations in progress, or give an order in this global war against a scattered network of killers. The war goes on, and we are winning. (Applause.)

To date, we've arrested or otherwise dealt with many key commanders of al Qaeda. They include a man who directed logistics and funding for the September the 11th attacks; the chief of al Qaeda operations in the Persian Gulf, who planned the bombings of our embassies in East Africa and the USS Cole; an al Qaeda operations chief from Southeast Asia; a former director of al Qaeda's training camps in Afghanistan; a key al Qaeda operative in Europe; a major al Qaeda leader in Yemen. All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. Many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way -- they are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies. (Applause.)

We are working closely with other nations to prevent further attacks. America and coalition countries have uncovered and stopped terrorist conspiracies targeting the American embassy in Yemen, the American embassy in Singapore, a Saudi military base, ships in the Straits of Hormuz and the Straits the Gibraltar. We've broken al Qaeda cells in Hamburg, Milan, Madrid, London, Paris, as well as, Buffalo, New York.

We have the terrorists on the run. We're keeping them on the run. One by one, the terrorists are learning the meaning of American justice. (Applause.)

As we fight this war, we will remember where it began -- here, in our own country. This government is taking unprecedented measures to protect our people and defend our homeland. We've intensified security at the borders and ports of entry, posted more than 50,000 newly-trained federal screeners in airports, begun inoculating troops and first responders against smallpox, and are deploying the nation's first early warning network of sensors to detect biological attack. And this year, for the first time, we are beginning to field a defense to protect this nation against ballistic missiles. (Applause.)

I thank the Congress for supporting these measures. I ask you tonight to add to our future security with a major research and production effort to guard our people against bioterrorism, called Project Bioshield. The budget I send you will propose almost $6 billion to quickly make available effective vaccines and treatments against agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin, Ebola, and plague. We must assume that our enemies would use these diseases as weapons, and we must act before the dangers are upon us. (Applause.)

Since September the 11th, our intelligence and law enforcement agencies have worked more closely than ever to track and disrupt the terrorists. The FBI is improving its ability to analyze intelligence, and is transforming itself to meet new threats. Tonight, I am instructing the leaders of the FBI, the CIA, the Homeland Security, and the Department of Defense to develop a Terrorist Threat Integration Center, to merge and analyze all threat information in a single location. Our government must have the very best information possible, and we will use it to make sure the right people are in the right places to protect all our citizens. (Applause.)

Our war against terror is a contest of will in which perseverance is power. In the ruins of two towers, at the western wall of the Pentagon, on a field in Pennsylvania, this nation made a pledge, and we renew that pledge tonight: Whatever the duration of this struggle, and whatever the difficulties, we will not permit the triumph of violence in the affairs of men -- free people will set the course of history. (Applause.)

Today, the gravest danger in the war on terror, the gravest danger facing America and the world, is outlaw regimes that seek and possess nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. These regimes could use such weapons for blackmail, terror, and mass murder. They could also give or sell those weapons to terrorist allies, who would use them without the least hesitation.

This threat is new; America's duty is familiar. Throughout the 20th century, small groups of men seized control of great nations, built armies and arsenals, and set out to dominate the weak and intimidate the world. In each case, their ambitions of cruelty and murder had no limit. In each case, the ambitions of Hitlerism, militarism, and communism were defeated by the will of free peoples, by the strength of great alliances, and by the might of the United States of America. (Applause.)

Now, in this century, the ideology of power and domination has appeared again, and seeks to gain the ultimate weapons of terror. Once again, this nation and all our friends are all that stand between a world at peace, and a world of chaos and constant alarm. Once again, we are called to defend the safety of our people, and the hopes of all mankind. And we accept this responsibility. (Applause.)

America is making a broad and determined effort to confront these dangers. We have called on the United Nations to fulfill its charter and stand by its demand that Iraq disarm. We're strongly supporting the International Atomic Energy Agency in its mission to track and control nuclear materials around the world. We're working with other governments to secure nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union, and to strengthen global treaties banning the production and shipment of missile technologies and weapons of mass destruction.

In all these efforts, however, America's purpose is more than to follow a process -- it is to achieve a result: the end of terrible threats to the civilized world. All free nations have a stake in preventing sudden and catastrophic attacks. And we're asking them to join us, and many are doing so. Yet the course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others. (Applause.) Whatever action is required, whenever action is necessary, I will defend the freedom and security of the American people. (Applause.)

Different threats require different strategies. In Iran, we continue to see a government that represses its people, pursues weapons of mass destruction, and supports terror. We also see Iranian citizens risking intimidation and death as they speak out for liberty and human rights and democracy. Iranians, like all people, have a right to choose their own government and determine their own destiny -- and the United States supports their aspirations to live in freedom. (Applause.)

On the Korean Peninsula, an oppressive regime rules a people living in fear and starvation. Throughout the 1990s, the United States relied on a negotiated framework to keep North Korea from gaining nuclear weapons. We now know that that regime was deceiving the world, and developing those weapons all along. And today the North Korean regime is using its nuclear program to incite fear and seek concessions. America and the world will not be blackmailed. (Applause.)

America is working with the countries of the region -- South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia -- to find a peaceful solution, and to show the North Korean government that nuclear weapons will bring only isolation, economic stagnation, and continued hardship. (Applause.) The North Korean regime will find respect in the world and revival for its people only when it turns away from its nuclear ambitions. (Applause.)

Our nation and the world must learn the lessons of the Korean Peninsula and not allow an even greater threat to rise up in Iraq. A brutal dictator, with a history of reckless aggression, with ties to terrorism, with great potential wealth, will not be permitted to dominate a vital region and threaten the United States. (Applause.)

Twelve years ago, Saddam Hussein faced the prospect of being the last casualty in a war he had started and lost. To spare himself, he agreed to disarm of all weapons of mass destruction. For the next 12 years, he systematically violated that agreement. He pursued chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, even while inspectors were in his country. Nothing to date has restrained him from his pursuit of these weapons -- not economic sanctions, not isolation from the civilized world, not even cruise missile strikes on his military facilities.

Almost three months ago, the United Nations Security Council gave Saddam Hussein his final chance to disarm. He has shown instead utter contempt for the United Nations, and for the opinion of the world. The 108 U.N. inspectors were sent to conduct -- were not sent to conduct a scavenger hunt for hidden materials across a country the size of California. The job of the inspectors is to verify that Iraq's regime is disarming. It is up to Iraq to show exactly where it is hiding its banned weapons, lay those weapons out for the world to see, and destroy them as directed. Nothing like this has happened.

The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax -- enough doses to kill several million people. He hasn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin -- enough to subject millions of people to death by respiratory failure. He hadn't accounted for that material. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed it.

Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He's not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them -- despite Iraq's recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents, and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He's given no evidence that he has destroyed them.

The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.

The dictator of Iraq is not disarming. To the contrary; he is deceiving. From intelligence sources we know, for instance, that thousands of Iraqi security personnel are at work hiding documents and materials from the U.N. inspectors, sanitizing inspection sites and monitoring the inspectors themselves. Iraqi officials accompany the inspectors in order to intimidate witnesses.

Iraq is blocking U-2 surveillance flights requested by the United Nations. Iraqi intelligence officers are posing as the scientists inspectors are supposed to interview. Real scientists have been coached by Iraqi officials on what to say. Intelligence sources indicate that Saddam Hussein has ordered that scientists who cooperate with U.N. inspectors in disarming Iraq will be killed, along with their families.

Year after year, Saddam Hussein has gone to elaborate lengths, spent enormous sums, taken great risks to build and keep weapons of mass destruction. But why? The only possible explanation, the only possible use he could have for those weapons, is to dominate, intimidate, or attack.

With nuclear arms or a full arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, Saddam Hussein could resume his ambitions of conquest in the Middle East and create deadly havoc in that region. And this Congress and the America people must recognize another threat. Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda. Secretly, and without fingerprints, he could provide one of his hidden weapons to terrorists, or help them develop their own.

Before September the 11th, many in the world believed that Saddam Hussein could be contained. But chemical agents, lethal viruses and shadowy terrorist networks are not easily contained. Imagine those 19 hijackers with other weapons and other plans -- this time armed by Saddam Hussein. It would take one vial, one canister, one crate slipped into this country to bring a day of horror like none we have ever known. We will do everything in our power to make sure that that day never comes. (Applause.)

Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option. (Applause.)

The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages -- leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind, or disfigured. Iraqi refugees tell us how forced confessions are obtained -- by torturing children while their parents are made to watch. International human rights groups have catalogued other methods used in the torture chambers of Iraq: electric shock, burning with hot irons, dripping acid on the skin, mutilation with electric drills, cutting out tongues, and rape. If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning. (Applause.)

And tonight I have a message for the brave and oppressed people of Iraq: Your enemy is not surrounding your country -- your enemy is ruling your country. (Applause.) And the day he and his regime are removed from power will be the day of your liberation. (Applause.)

The world has waited 12 years for Iraq to disarm. America will not accept a serious and mounting threat to our country, and our friends and our allies. The United States will ask the U.N. Security Council to convene on February the 5th to consider the facts of Iraq's ongoing defiance of the world. Secretary of State Powell will present information and intelligence about Iraqi's legal -- Iraq's illegal weapons programs, its attempt to hide those weapons from inspectors, and its links to terrorist groups.

We will consult. But let there be no misunderstanding: If Saddam Hussein does not fully disarm, for the safety of our people and for the peace of the world, we will lead a coalition to disarm him. (Applause.)

Tonight I have a message for the men and women who will keep the peace, members of the American Armed Forces: Many of you are assembling in or near the Middle East, and some crucial hours may lay ahead. In those hours, the success of our cause will depend on you. Your training has prepared you. Your honor will guide you. You believe in America, and America believes in you. (Applause.)

Sending Americans into battle is the most profound decision a President can make. The technologies of war have changed; the risks and suffering of war have not. For the brave Americans who bear the risk, no victory is free from sorrow. This nation fights reluctantly, because we know the cost and we dread the days of mourning that always come.

We seek peace. We strive for peace. And sometimes peace must be defended. A future lived at the mercy of terrible threats is no peace at all. If war is forced upon us, we will fight in a just cause and by just means -- sparing, in every way we can, the innocent. And if war is forced upon us, we will fight with the full force and might of the United States military -- and we will prevail. (Applause.)

And as we and our coalition partners are doing in Afghanistan, we will bring to the Iraqi people food and medicines and supplies -- and freedom. (Applause.)

Many challenges, abroad and at home, have arrived in a single season. In two years, America has gone from a sense of invulnerability to an awareness of peril; from bitter division in small matters to calm unity in great causes. And we go forward with confidence, because this call of history has come to the right country.

Americans are a resolute people who have risen to every test of our time. Adversity has revealed the character of our country, to the world and to ourselves. America is a strong nation, and honorable in the use of our strength. We exercise power without conquest, and we sacrifice for the liberty of strangers.

Americans are a free people, who know that freedom is the right of every person and the future of every nation. The liberty we prize is not America's gift to the world, it is God's gift to humanity. (Applause.)

We Americans have faith in ourselves, but not in ourselves alone. We do not know -- we do not claim to know all the ways of Providence, yet we can trust in them, placing our confidence in the loving God behind all of life, and all of history.

May He guide us now. And may God continue to bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

Yours truly,

George W. Bush

If nothing else, the last election proved that politics-by-slogan and poll-tested sound bites aren't going to cut it with the American people anymore, and that's why the real test of leadership is not what the President said to Congress last night, but how he works with Congress in the months to come to find real solutions to America's problems.

The good news is that in the halls of Congress and across the nation, there is widespread support from both Democrats and Republicans on how to meet the major challenges facing America.

Most Americans believe that escalation will not bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end, and that's why I've proposed not just a troop cap, but a phased redeployment that will start bringing our troops home.

Most Americans believe that energy independence will come from using more bio-fuels like ethanol and making cars that actually use less oil, which is why I proposed a bipartisan plan that would raise fuel economy standards for the first time in decades.

Most Americans believe that the biggest domestic challenge facing the country is the high cost of health care, and that's why incremental plans that do nothing to bring down costs or guarantee coverage are simply no longer sufficient. We must pass universal health care for every American.

The American people are looking for something new. They are hungry for a different kind of politics. In the last week, I've been humbled and inspired to see more than 100,000 of you sign up to join our efforts to change the debate in this country, so that we can begin solving our common problems and pursuing our common dreams.

Last night was an evening for rhetoric and promises. But now is the time for action - now is the time to actually get something done. You deserve leadership that's commensurate to the challenges we face in this country, and I look forward to working with all of you to make this happen in the days and months to come.

U.S. Senator Barack Obama
U.S. Senator Barack Obama

After 12 years of nearly unbroken Republican control, we have now begun a new year, with a new Democratic majority.  I want to take this opportunity to share with you some thoughts about what we’ve achieved so far and about my plans for the new Congress. During the first 100 hours of the 110th Congress, we enacted new homeland security measures, increased the minimum wage, provided for federally funded stem cell research, changed the law to require the federal government to negotiate lower prescription drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries, cut student loan interest rates and rolled back tax breaks for oil companies to fund alternative energy research.

If we continue to stay true to our principles while being willing to work with our colleagues on the other side of the aisle, we will have the opportunity in the 110th Congress to make progress on many of the nation’s most pressing priorities, including changing course in Iraq and addressing urgent needs here at home.

As the new chairman of the Judiciary Committee, I will continue to work to strengthen and improve the administration of justice in Federal courts, administrative bodies, and law enforcement agencies.

Among our priorities for the new Congress has to be support for a phased withdrawal of American troops from Iraq to conclude within four to six months. We must change our focus from combat to diplomacy to help Iraq and its neighbors work to find the political solutions necessary to end the bloodshed. This is the only way we can achieve any sort of victory in Iraq.

There is a serious health care crisis in America that must be addressed now by the Congress and the President.  We need universal health care.  I will reintroduce H.R. 676, The United States National Health Insurance Act, to ensure that every American, regardless of income, employment status, or race, has access to quality, affordable health care services.

Underlying the debate on how America should fund health care for its citizens are two other important issues left unaddressed in the last session of Congress: the enormous federal debt and the need for serious ethics reform. The federal debt has reached an astounding $8.6 trillion – or more than $28,000 per person – and is getting worse fast. During the first 100 hours, we restored the “pay-as-you-go” rules that require new spending increases and tax cuts be offset elsewhere in the budget. In addition, our passage of real ethics reform during the first 100 hours has shown the American people that the 110th Congress is off to a fresh start.

So far our accomplishments include passage of the following legislation: 1, which implemented many of the remaining reforms suggested by the Sept. 9-11 commission, including calls for more thorough cargo screening, better emergency communications and more money for cities at the highest risk of terrorist attack. 2 , which increased the minimum wage while recognizing health benefits and child care as important forms of compensation and giving businesses credit for providing health insurance. Small business is the engine of economic growth and the biggest challenge small businesses face is paying for health care for employees.  This bill will help them do so. 3, which authorized government support of research involving embryonic stem cells that meet certain criteria, and creates an ethical framework for this research. This bill prohibits funding for research unless the cell lines were derived from excess embryos that were created for reproductive purposes and would otherwise be discarded. It also requires voluntary informed consent from the couples donating the excess embryos and prohibits any financial inducements for embryo donation. 4, which cuts the cost of health care, and improves access to medicines by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices for Medicare beneficiaries.  The current Medicare Rx Drug law prohibits HHS from conducting such cost-reducing negotiations. 5, which will cut federal student loan interest rates in half over the next five years.  This legislation will help the typical borrower, with $13,800 in subsidized federal student loan debt, to save approximately $4,400 over the life of his or her loan. The bill is fully paid for, meeting all pay-as-you-go requirements. 6, which reclaims $14 billion in tax breaks and giveaways that the Republican Congress extended to big oil in 2004 and 2005 and ensures that oil companies pay their fair share to drill on public land.  The reclaimed revenue will be used to create a Strategic Renewable Energy Reserve to invest in clean, renewable energy resources and alternative fuels, promote new energy technologies, develop greater efficiency and improve energy conservation.

The American people made clear last November that they are tired of partisan bickering and want a Congress that will address the nation’s problems. If both Democrats and Republicans are willing to heed that message, the next two years can usher in a new era of congressional accomplishments. I look forward to working with you during the 110th Congress as we continue on the path to building a better America.


John Conyers
U.S. Congressman

In an exclusive interview conducted by David Swanson, Rep. McGovern commented on a range of issues - the full interview here:

Swanson: So, Congressman Jim McGovern, this is David Swanson from PDA, Progressive Democrats of America. And first of all I want to thank you for working with PDA, for coming to Town Hall Meetings, for coming to Camp Democracy in September. And as you know we are gathering signatures in support of your bill. And you had one bill last Congress and you are going to have a new one this Congress. The one that everybody’s heard about 4232, what did that bill do?

McGovern: Well, what that bill basically did is what the bill I’m going to introduce this year will do, and, some of the words have been changed a little bit in response to some of the questions that were raised. But essentially, what I believe and what we need to do, I think, is call for an immediate and safe and orderly withdrawal of all of our troops from Iraq to be completed, within six months. That’s what all the experts have told me is necessary to be able to get everybody out in a safe and orderly way. And then beyond that my bill would then cut off all further Pentagon funding for the Iraq war. It would end the war. It would end the US occupation. It would still allow us to support UN efforts or regional efforts aimed at a political solution. It would enable us to support humanitarian aid and appropriate reconstruction aide. But essentially it would end US military involvement; it would end the US occupation; it would end the war. And I believe that’s the right thing for us to do.

Swanson: Now, it’s interesting that it cuts off the money. I know that cutting off the money was part of how the Vietnam War was ended. Why is that? If Congress tells the President to end the war, is the President not guaranteed to do it? Will he make an argument that he can proceed with the war if he so chooses unless Congress cuts off money?

McGovern: Well, we have a problem with this President and that is he doesn’t like to listen.

Swanson: I’ve noticed.

McGovern: Yeah. He lost the mid-term elections which were about people’s dissatisfaction with the war in Iraq. People want this war to end. He has ignored the Iraq Study Group which gave him 72 recommendations on how to change course. He has ignored top generals who were serving over in Iraq and, when they disagree with him he either replaces them or they go into retirement.

So what do you do when you have a President who ignores all these things? The only thing you can do is to get Congress to condition, to withhold, or to cut off aide. That’s it. Congress controls the purse strings. And if the President doesn’t want to listen, if he doesn’t want to change course and in this instance the President wants to continue his failed policy but this time he wants to escalate it with more US forces over there – that’s the only option we have.

You mentioned before about how the Vietnam War came to an end, well that resolution that the United States Senate considered which was the McGovern-Hatfield Amendment (named after George McGovern and Mark Hatfield) received 39 votes. Didn’t receive a majority. Received 39 votes. Thirty-nine US Senators went on record as saying, “I want this war to end and I want to cut off funding.” That sent a powerful signal to the White House and other leaders in Congress that basically support for this war is eroding rapidly. They needed to come up with a plan to get out. And it may take that because this President doesn’t want to listen. And so I believe that the bill that I proposed is a good way to go.

But look, you’ve got other votes, you know, coming up very soon that people need to be mindful of. There’ll be a sense of Congress resolution that the Senate and the House will take up dealing with our opposition to the escalation of US forces in Iraq. Now, some people have been critical that the resolution won’t have teeth in it or just kind of a sense of Congress, meaning this is what Congress is thinking. But look, much as I wish it was much more, was much stronger, I’m going to support it and I think everybody should because we need to send a signal. This will be the first time in four years when the House and Senate will go on record as saying we disagree with the President. The Congress has basically been out to lunch the last four years. This will be the first time that Congress has anything mildly critical, to say to the White House with regard to this war.

Secondly, and coming up in the not too distant future, the President is going to submit to Congress a request for an emergency supplemental appropriations bill. Essentially that is, they call it an emergency supplemental because the President misled the Congress and the people about what he needed for this war to fight this year. He’s running out of money so he needs more money. He’s asking for between $100 - $120 billion and I’m going to vote against it. And I think we should urge others to vote against it. And to me, the stronger that “no” vote is again, the stronger the pressure on the White House and the stronger the pressure on the leaderships of the House and the Senate to bring this war to a close.  And so look, we need to get serious here right now. We’ve been doing this for four years. This war has gone on longer than our involvement in WW II. It is time to step it up a notch and to urge Congress to finally live up to its constitutional responsibility.

Swanson: With the Democrats in the majority, you guys, you and your colleagues quite admirably have proposed that in general Congress should pay as you go.

McGovern: Right.

Swanson: That is, if you pass a spending bill you cut something somewhere else so that you pay for it so we aren’t further and further into debt as this President is inclined to go. These so-called “supplementals” that are now planned for 2007 and 2008 as so called “emergencies” are apparently outside of that . . .

McGovern: They are. That’s why this administration is, relies so heavily on them. I mean, they get around any kind of budgetary rules or restrictions or conditions. That has to change. I’ll be honest with you . . .

Swanson: Can it be changed?

McGovern: Well, I think the way it can be changed is for, I mean for the leadership of both the House and the Senate to say, “No more supplementals. No more supplementals. You want money for this war, then you go through the regular progress.” And we’re going to have to pay for every cent. And if that means raising taxes, then President Bush can get on TV and ask for a war tax. But we are not going to put it on a credit card and put it on the backs of our kids and our grandkids and our great-grandkids. And, that’s the kind of, the kind of response I’m hoping that they’d receive from the leaders of the House and the Senate.

One of the things that has helped to aid President Bush in keeping this war going is the fact that by and large with the exception of a small sliver of our population here in the United States, most people are not sacrificing for this war. Most people’s kids are not over in Iraq fighting, and when people have been given tax cuts, at a time of war, you aren’t even paying for it. You don’t feel the price of it in your tax bill. Well that’s just, that’s irresponsible. And, so we need to insist, I think, that there by no more supplementals and that we pay as you go on this war.

Swanson: Now, correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t Congress already pass a bill saying that in 2008 forward there would be no more supplementals, that the war would be part of the regular budget, and . . .

McGovern: We did, we did. I’m also on the budget committee, I’m on the rules committee, and the Pentagon testified before the budget committee that while they expect to go through the regular budgetary process and make a request for funds for 2008, that they’ll probably come back and ask for one anyway. And I think that it needs to be crystal clear, “No you won’t.” And we’re not going to receive requests for that.  And I’ll just say one other thing, too. And this is something I feel very, very strongly about. I don’t want this, I don’t want to be talking about emergency supplementals, you know, in 2008 or 2009. I want this war over! I don’t want the next Presidential election to be about the war in Iraq. I want this war over. I want us out of Iraq. I want us, I want the end time posted before the next Presidential election.

This is George Bush’s war. It has gone on for four years, longer than we’ve been involved in World War II. We’ve spent over $500 billion on this war. We’ve lost over 3,000 of our citizens, tens of thousands wounded, countless Iraqi civilians killed. I mean enough! Enough!  You know, Bush, he started it, he deceived us. The time has come to end it on his watch. It is not right for us, to our soldiers, to our country, you know, to the Iraqi people. It’s not right to the next President whoever he or she may be, whether it is a Democrat or a Republican, to allow George Bush to kick the ball down the field and dump the war in Iraq, on somebody else. We cannot allow that to happen.  And Congress needs to get its backbone up, and have a little steel in our spine and say, “Look, what we want to talk about right now is how we get out. That’s what we are interested in. And future funding, is going to be based on our withdrawing from Iraq, not our being there, for the next, 5, 10, 20, 30 years, as Bush has implied that we might be.”

Swanson: Very well said. Last Congress there were a bunch of Congress members who did have enough backbone to co-sponsor your bill, but there was also a very strange sort of resistance to it that you didn’t hear much outside of the beltway but that you did hear in Congress which was that somehow safely bringing our troops home and keeping them alive is, well, anti-troops, opposing our troops. Can you explain this to me?

McGovern: Well, here’s the evolution of a lot of members of Congress on the war. I mean, you have people that voted for the war and then they realized it was a mistake because they were lied to. I voted against the war. A lot of my colleagues voted for the war. Then they came out against the war and they found out that, when you get up before an audience and you say, you know, “I think we need to figure out a way to get out of the war” - that was an applause line. But they weren’t willing to go the next step which was to specify, how we’re going to do it, you know, and say, “I’m going to vote to do it.” And, they were always worried that, you know, Karl Rove or somebody would, would take such a stand or say, “You’re against the troops,” and use it in the next political campaign. Well, to me, if you want to protect our troops, bring them home! If you want to protect our troops, get them out of a situation where they are refereeing a civil war. If you want to protect our troops, make sure they get the health care that they deserve, Make sure that their families who have been left behind aren’t living in substandard housing. If you want to protect our troops, then you’ve got to end this war. And, I think that’s the response to that.

This notion that we want to cut and run . . . nobody’s talking about cutting and running. What I’m talking about is doing what is sensible, what is right, what is in the best interests of our people, what is in the best interests of the Iraqi people, and what is the correct thing to do.  And, in Washington, unlike anywhere else in the country, people obsess over politics. Every vote you cast, you know, people think in terms of, “Is it the politically correct thing for me to do?” They think in terms of political expediency, in terms of the next election and the next commercial.  Well, look – this is war! People are dying. The hell with politics right now. And, you know, the heck with this notion that we need to find some sort of way, some way to save face. We should be worried more about saving lives.  Again, we’ve been in this war now for over four years. At some point we all better understand that this is really a tragedy. This is the worst moral, political, diplomatic, military blunder in the history of our country. And we need to end it because being here ten years from now and ending it is to make it that much worse, not that much better.  And so let’s force Bush to take the responsibility. You know, he can, I’m sure, with his speech writers and his spin masters, figure out a way to justify this where he can claim whatever he wants to claim, but the bottom line is we need to end this war, we need to get our troops home, we need to cut off all funding for the Pentagon in terms of military operations over there and let’s focus then on how do we fund and support efforts, regional efforts, Iraqi efforts, UN efforts to find a political solution that will make life for the Iraqi people much better in the future.

Swanson: Well, United for Peace and Justice and Progressive Democrats of America and a million other groups are going to be lobbying on Monday, the 29th, for this and other bills after marching on Washington on Saturday. And I understand you are going to have the new bill introduced in time for that.

McGovern: Right.

Swanson: And hopefully it will have a number on it. And that it is somewhat different. That it actually specifies using existing funds to pay for the withdrawal of the troops and then cutting off further funds.

McGovern: Right.

Swanson: Where do those existing funds come from? If they claim to have blown the last $70 billion already, I mean, do we have to pick a couple of bombers not to build, or where does that money come from?

McGovern: First of all, from all accounts there is the money to do this. And if there is not the money, they can come back and ask Congress for the money. But we are not talking $100 or $120 billion.

Swanson: Right.

McGovern: That’s what he’s asking for. There is a lot of unused money that is in the pipeline. That’s why the President is saying he can, you know, move forward on this escalation without Congress’s approval no matter what Congress does. Look, if you have money for an escalation, take that money and use it for withdrawal. It’s that simple.  I’m not - no one is advocating that we just cut off all funds and leave our troops there with nothing. What I’m advocating is that we provide the troops the protection they need to get out in a safe and orderly way.  And to be honest with you, my sense is that if the United States were to announce that in fact our occupation is coming to an end, that we are no longer going to be involved in a war in Iraq, I think not only within Iraq but around the world there would be this collective sigh of relief.  I also think it will be a lot easier to achieve a political solution in Iraq amongst the various factions without the United States running the whole country. You also remove the excuse for Al Quaeda or any other outside group who is now trying to peddle their way into Iraq. You will remove the excuse for them to be there.  No one knows what ultimately happens when we leave. My sense is it will change the dynamic in a way where we can actually get some of the other players in the region to play a constructive role. And also be able to get people talking to the various sides who can actually bridge some of these divides in a way that we can’t do.  Look, there is no nice, clean, wonderful, beautiful way to end this. This is a mistake. This war was a mistake. And sometimes you make mistakes that are so catastrophic that, you know, there are bad consequences. I think unfortunately this is one of those mistakes. But I do believe that if there is any chance to move the country in a different direction toward a political solution you have to change the dynamic, and the only way to change the dynamic is to end the US occupation and that’s what I want to do.

Swanson: Absolutely. You’ve got a couple of little exceptions in the bill that seem sensible. . .

McGovern: Right.

Swanson: but then we know the President we’re dealing with. And there is an exception to keep troops to guard the embassy. . .

McGovern: Right.

Swanson: in Baghdad, and keep US Army Corps of Engineers who are working on reconstruction, and I have no idea how many that is at present. How, what is to prevent the President from saying, “Well, we’re going to need 85,000 troops to guard the embassy?”

McGovern: Well, I think at that point, Congress would step in and then cap the number of troops. We’re going to have an embassy in Iraq and given the fact that we have become such a hated figure in Iraq, you do need to be able to allow for an exception for there to be protection of our embassy.  But protection of our embassy does not mean in any way, shape, or form that you can be engaged in combat activities other than to protect the Ambassador from being shot or for the embassy from being blown up. I mean, it does not mean you go to Fallujah and aide anybody and perform a military sweep of that town or any other place. Protecting the embassy is very specific. Protecting the embassy. That’s it.  So, if the President were to use that to say, “Well, I’m going to just, you know, I’m going to escalate our forces and we’re going to be involved in combat activities other than protecting the embassy” that would be in violation of the law. But if he tried in any way to do something crazy with it, I think Congress should call him on it.  And again, I don’t want the Army Corps of Engineers fighting, they are not combat troops. They are there to help rebuild much of what we’ve blown up, quite frankly.

Swanson: Right.

McGovern: And, that is something I really strongly believe. If we can assist in reconstruction, I think that that is something we should try to do. We blew the country up. We spent hundreds of billions of dollars destroying the place. It’s worth us spending a couple of bucks to help rebuild the place. But I don’t want Halliburton to do it, and I would like it to be mostly Iraqi civilians doing it. But I do believe reconstruction is something we should still be willing to support. And again, if it looked like the President were trying to turn people who are experts in building bridges and replacing them with people who are experts in building bombs, again, I think he would be violating the law. But it would be something Congress would call him on.  Look, if people go along with what I am saying here, it is because we want this war to be ended. And I think it would be very difficult for the President to be able to continue his policies. It’s not possible if my bill were to be enacted. I mean basically it would end this thing.  Now look, I need to weigh what we ultimately would like here. Going back to what you mentioned about the McGovern-Hatfield Amendment to end the war in Vietnam, the 39 Senators that voted to end the war, I think what we’d like here is the administration to become a willing participant in bringing this war to an end. And it would make it easier and it would make it better if we can get the President to finally admit that this was a mistake and cooperate with us to get our troops home, to end our occupation. And to the extent we can demonstrate that our, that Congress is opposed to this by voting against these appropriations bills, I think that’s the kind of signal that may be necessary to get him to change his point of view.

Swanson: Well, it, it seems like you’ve got a majority of Americans with you and you’ve got a majority of our troops on active duty with you, but the problem appears to be not just the White House being against this but the corporate media being against this. And, I mean, there is a phenomenon that I refer to as “Milbankism” in honor of Dana Milbank. He wrote a column recently, you know, ridiculing all of the toothless resolutions coming from the Democrats and failing to mention the bills like yours that have teeth. And so, you take, the Congress members who are out there, leading, introducing bills that strongly stand for majority opinion and do something and have teeth and you ignore them, you black them out. They are not, they are not on the radar screen.

McGovern: Right.

Swanson: And then you ridicule the other stuff. And then the Democrats are weak and useless. How do you change that?

McGovern: Well, first of all, I’m not here to defend toothless resolutions, but even the toothless resolution that may come up that puts Congress on record as being opposed to the escalation - if we can get a majority of the House and Senate to vote for a sense of Congress resolution saying that we oppose this escalation, that is a very powerful signal.

Swanson: Yeah.

McGovern: So if there is any defense for toothless resolutions, I will tell you that I would rather have a toothless resolution at least that says that we are opposed to the President’s policy, get everybody on record, than not one at all. So we need to support that.

Swanson: Absolutely.

McGovern. Secondly, one of the things that has always troubled me, and I saw over the week-end in the Washington Post, a big half-page op-ed by Henry Kissinger, sometimes I think some who inhabit our editorial pages of our major newspapers, get tied up in the politics, what is politically correct, and what is the moderate view, what is sensible, all these different kind of tests that they have - sometimes they overlook the obvious: If you want to end the war, you end the war.  But to have editorial pages filled with people like Henry Kissinger who, in my opinion, is as close to an American war criminal as you can get, to get up and talk about the President’s escalation as this bold move forward . . . I mean, Henry Kissinger has been wrong on every major foreign policy issue that he has ever had any involvement with. He was wrong on Vietnam, I mean dead wrong on Vietnam. He was wrong on Chile; overthrowing Allende and supporting the brutal dictator Pinochet. He was wrong on East Timor where he supported the Indonesian military going into East Timor massacring thousands and thousands of people. And he is wrong on the war in Iraq. He’s been wrong on everything. And yet, we’re supposed to listen to him, that he’s the guy? People like him who’ve been consistently wrong are the people who somehow are supposed to shape our foreign policy. Give me a break. Those guys should go into early retirement. In Henry Kissinger’s case, I mean he’s really, really old, so he should just go away.  They are wrong. So, we need some bold thinking on the editorial pages, too. But rather than trying to formulate what seems to be the politically, acceptable way to go, look – the American people, you are right, are way ahead of us. I mean, they are shocked that we are not more shocked. They are horrified that we are still twiddling our thumbs. And, we just finished a week-end in Iraq which was one of the deadliest week-ends for American forces since we’ve been there.  I mean, they are saying, “What are you guys doing? Stop the talking. Stop the political spin. You know, stop the intellectualizing. Do what’s right. Bring our sons and daughters, husbands and wives, home.” So, that’s what they’re saying, and let’s get about the business of trying to rebuild our image around the world and support efforts in Iraq that are aimed at achieving a political solution so there may be some hope for a better future for the people of Iraq.

Swanson: So is it helpful from your point of view if people write letters to the editor and call talk shows and demonstrate in front of media outlets, and if people come to Washington this Saturday, the 27th, and march in huge numbers. Is that a helpful thing?

McGovern: Absolutely. Absolutely. OK. The fact that we are where we are right now; the fact that we have now a lot of members of Congress who are introducing bills to end the war in Iraq in one form or another; the fact that we have a Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate . . . we’re going to have a first vote on a resolution opposing the escalation; the fact that these things are happening and we’re going to have more hearings and oversight on Iraq – that is not as a result of just Congress getting it. It is the result of grassroots pressure. It is the result of citizens coming to Washington and lobbying their members of Congress. It is the result of letters and emails and phone calls. It is the result of demonstrations that have occurred in various cities and towns across the country. It is the result of people calling in to talk radio, writing letters to the editor. It is the result of very incredible passionate mothers and fathers and husbands and wives whose loved ones are over in Iraq or who have been killed in Iraq coming forward and talking about the need to bring this war to an end. It is about the soldiers who were here in Washington a couple of weeks ago on active duty expressing their opposition to this war in Iraq.

That is getting us to where we are. So it is important for people to come to these demonstrations, to come and protest, to come and (unintelligible). To all those who have been doing that, PDA and so many other incredible groups, all those who have been doing that, I know it is not easy. It takes courage to dissent in times of war. I don’t care whether you are a member of Congress, or whether you are a school teacher or a factory worker or whether you work in a grocery store, or whether you are a lawyer or a doctor or nurse or whatever . . . to oppose your country’s policy, policies in time of war is not easy. We all. we all hesitate to take that step. But when your country is engaged in a war that you think is wrong and deplorable, you have an obligation to do so.
When I talk to audiences who come down here to protest the war, I address them as “patriots,” because clearly it is the truest form of patriotism to speak up when your country is going in the wrong direction. And we do it because we love this country and we want it to be better. You know, we are a hell of a lot better than what is on display in George Bush’s war in Iraq. So if we’re going to change this it’s going to require the American people demanding that it change.  The war in Vietnam ended because the people demanded that it end. The war in Iraq is going to end only when the people of the United States demand that it is going to come to an end. . . you know, I’m grateful for those who are coming to Washington. If you can’t come to Washington, you can call, you can write, you can email, or you can do a little mini-demonstration in your own city and town, but it is important to be counted and it is important for your voices to be heard, because . . . And I’ll say this, and in fairness to some members of Congress, you know, none of us are mind readers. So if you don’t hear from your constituents, then there is not a lot of incentive to change. It is when you hear from that constituents, you see these members of Congress beginning to change, so we need to keep that pressure going.

Swanson: Well, that’s great encouragement and I appreciate it and we will pass it along. And you are part of it. And I understand that you are going to be going on the road with PDA and doing an event with Cindy Sheehan at some time in the near future. That’s absolutely wonderful, and we could use a few more voices in Congress telling people to turn out and be heard.

McGovern: Well, the good, the good news is that each and every day there are more people in Congress that are coming forward, and that really is a tribute to the grassroots, to organizations like PDA and so many others that have been out there from the very beginning. But, slowly but surely, we are winning one vote at a time. We are winning more and more votes our way. And, I, and so we need to keep the fight going and I think if we do, at the end of the day we are going to be successful, and to me success is ending this war before George Bush leaves the White House.

Swanson Well, we appreciate everything you are doing. I don’t want to take up any more of your time, but we will see you this week-end in Washington.

Bush, George W. State of the Union Adress. 23 January 2007

Conyers, John.  First 100 Hours Agenda Accomplished More Progress on the Horizon.  24 January 2007

Obama, Barac.  Its Time for Something New. 24 January 2007

Swanson, David. Interview with Jim McGovern.  22 January 2007

Voinovich, George. Statement(s) on the New Direction in Iraq. 23-25 January 2007