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Neal statement on the escalation of the war in Iraq

January 10, 2007
Press Release

(WASHINGTON) Congressman Richard E. Neal  (D-Springfield) issued the following statement on President Bush's speech to  the nation tonight outlining his new plan for the escalation of the war in  Iraq.

"In October 2002, I went to the floor of the  House of Representatives to vote against authorizing the use of military  force in Iraq. I raised a number of concerns about a pre-emptive war  including its cost in lives, the lack of a connection between Saddam Hussein  and 9/11, and the fact that Iraq was not a credible threat to the United  States. I also had deep misgivings about giving unlimited powers to the  president. It was a responsibility that I took very seriously. More than  four years later, I believe it was the most important vote that I have cast  as a Member of Congress.  

Since the war started,  more than 3,000 brave and heroic Americans have been killed, 45 alone from  Massachusetts. Over 22,000 of our men and women in uniform have been wounded  in Iraq. The war is now costing taxpayers $8 billion per month. And there is  no end in sight. In my opinion, President Bush should start bringing the  troops home, not sending them back into harms way.

Tonight's speech by President Bush is  another variation of stay the course. He has not acknowledged that Iraq has  descended into a civil war with our troops caught in the middle. He has  minimized the threat of the insurgency, mislead on weapons of mass  destruction and mismanaged this conflict from the beginning. He no longer  has the support of his generals, the troops or the American people. I  believe it is time for an honorable exit strategy that will bring our troops  back home.  

Many of our top  military leaders and foreign policy experts are opposed an escalation of the  war in Iraq. They are convinced that a military solution is no longer  achievable. The proposal put forward tonight by President Bush will not  change the course in Iraq. That is the responsibility of the Iraq people. It  will take real leadership from Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki to end the  sectarian violence. And ultimately, the Sunnis and Shiites of Iraq will have  to determine if they want a future of conflict or  reconciliation.

Our troops have served this country with  courage, honor and dignity. They have done all that has been asked of them.  It is time for these heroes to come home."