Jim McDermott: Silence the Drumbeats of War
Jim McDermott (D-WA): War Drums
Against Iran Getting Louder
Washington state Congressman Jim McDermott is extremely concerned about the possibility of war with Iran. Here are several of his speeches from 2007 before the House of Representatives insisting that Congress pass legislation to prevent Bush from attacking Iran, which he says, like the 1953 fiasco, is "all about oil".
February 7, 2007 - House of Representatives:
The President and his Administration would be wise to avoid making Iran the next Iraq.
Despite that, the demonizing of Iran has begun, as the President tries to divert the attention of the American people away from his Iraq debacle.
Instead of advocating diplomacy in the region as recommended by the Iraq Study Group and countless leaders in both political parties, the President is making veiled threats that are becoming increasingly worrisome.
The boiling cauldron of violence in the Mideast is getting hotter, and to many people, the policies and pronouncements of this President concerning Iran are seen as throwing gasoline on a fire.
As the situation worsens in Iraq, the President talks more and more about Iran- as if the attention of the American people and the world can be so easily diverted. That's not going to work this time.
The focus of the American people; indeed, the focus of the world, is on the U.S. occupation of Iraq, and the disastrous war the President continues to wage- and escalate. We know he is raising the stakes in Iraq. Many fear Iran is not far behind. And see an irony in that.
Leaders in the Mideast I met with recently in Jordan blame Paul Bremer, the President's first administrator in Iraq, believe Bremer- unwittingly or otherwise- handed Iraq to the regime in Iran. He did it with disastrous decisions.
First he dismantled the Iraqi army. That left the border between Iraq and Iran unguarded and open to the infiltration of weapons and insurgents to foment violence in Iraq.
Bremer gave the Shia effective control by mandating they receive a majority of seats in reconstituting an Iraqi government. These decisions opened the borders, and at the same time closed relationships between Iranian Persians and Iraqi Shia.
It set the stage for Iran's influence to grow stronger and stronger inside Iraq, and it unleashed a torrent of violence pitting Iraqi against Iraqi-with American soldiers caught in the cross fire.
Is it any wonder that many Iraqis believe their nation is being handed over to Iran by the United States?
Now, many believe the President's saber rattling toward Iran has less to do with its efforts to develop a nuclear weapon, and more to do with his failure to understand the region and contain Iran from the outset of the war.
Thoughtful people in the U.S. and around the world fear the President is compounding trouble, not confronting the problems in a troubled region. Where does all the saber rattling go? History shows the way.
In less than one generation we have done what we vowed never to do again: we allowed a President to stampede the nation into a hopeless war, not because we had to, but because he wanted to.
He believed he could will victory by saying it was so. We have seen the tragic consequences of that.
There are so many parallels between the Iraq debacle and Vietnam.
The President and many people in America forgot the lessons of history when a blank check was given to this President in Iraq. There are still lessons to remember.
The Vietnam War was going badly; so much so that an earlier President did not merely escalate the war; he expanded it into Laos and Cambodia. Secret bombing that did not shorten the Vietnam War or offer any path to resolution.
My fear is we might forget all the lessons of the Vietnam War. It is time to ask the question: Is Iran the next Laos or Cambodia?
With things going badly in Iraq, will the President continue to ignore the lessons of history and order the American military to not merely escalate, but expand the war beyond Iraq?
I wish a question like this did not need to be asked.
But we cannot watch Iraq, consider Vietnam, and not worry that a President who refuses to learn from history is not dooming us to repeat its mistakes.
Military action is not the answer in Iraq, in Iran, or Gaza, or any other flash point in the Mideast. We need to dispatch an army, alright- an army of diplomats-armed not with bullets but with ideas, with resolve, and with a book of American history in every briefcase.
The way out of Iraq must begin here on Capitol Hill, because down the street at the White House, they are only talking about more ways in, and we fear, other places to go.
This War must end now and there should be a binding resolution to indicate that to the President and the American People.
April 18, 2007- House of Representatives:
Mr. Speaker, the drum beats of war are growing louder. There is a growing fear here and around the world that the President, either alone or by proxy, will order a military strike against Iran.
The President has escalated the military presence in Iraq at the same time he has escalated the military rhetoric concerning Iran. The President's accusations against Iran are being planted like seeds in fertile ground. Is this how the President cultivates diplomacy, or is he sowing the seeds for another war?
The House must pass legislation that would require a debate and a vote before the President orders U.S. Forces to launch a military strike against Iran. This is the people's House, and the American people have spoken. They don't trust the President, and they are worried about his saber rattling toward Iran.
I think of it this way: If Iraq is a quagmire, and it is, then Iran will be quicksand, with America sinking deeper and deeper into a disastrous foreign policy grounded in brute force and producing brutal consequences: thousands of American soldiers dead, tens of thousands of American soldiers gravely wounded, billions of dollars borrowed and wasted, over 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed and injured, a raging civil war.
And after all that, the President and the Vice President say a military option is on the table for Iran. To prove it, U.S. warships were ordered into the Gulf two weeks ago. It was a show of military might around the date that the Russian military intelligence sources have widely forecast that the U.S. would strike Iran in stories posted online and in newspapers.
The current political regime in Iran is a government I do not endorse or support, but the record must show that the President's policies in Iraq created the problem the President now warns he will fix by military action, if necessary.
After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the President installed Paul Bremer as America's de facto premier of Iraq. Mr. Bremer answered only to the White House and not to the Iraqi people. Bremer dictated a series of policies that dismantled Iraq from the inside out. With the White House calling his every move, Bremer first dismantled the Iraqi civil society, plunging an entire nation into chaos.
The Iraqi civilians who ran everything from sewage treatment plants to traffic control to keeping the lights on were summarily fired. The country's infrastructure remains crippled by Bremer's order four years later. Bremer also dismissed Iraq's military, and in so doing, he put tens of thousands of demoralized Iraqis on the streets with a gun and a grudge. The vast majority of these people were in the military for the pay and the job, not because they supported Saddam.
With Iraqi civil and military sectors wiped out over 4 years ago, there were no Iraqis left to guard the borders between Iraq and Syria and Iraq and Iran. The borders have been wide open ever since because the appointed proxy government didn't bother to understand the history of the region or a basic national security need to protect a nation's borders.
We know weapons and insurgents have been walking across Iraq's open borders. Almost a year ago, leaders told me in Amman, and these are Iraqi leaders, that the most constructive thing the U.S. could do would be to withdraw from the cities and redeploy to the borders and establish border guards.
Instead of doing something constructive, the President ordered a military escalation in Iraq that is destructive. The Iraqi people want us out of Iraq. The American people want us out of Iraq. But the President drives us deeper and deeper into Iraq and then threatens military action against Iran.
As a lame duck President and as slave to his own failed foreign policy, Congress must ensure that the President cannot unilaterally strike Iran in the remaining months of his failed presidency. Congress must pass legislation that preserves the checks and balances to guarantee that the President must listen to someone other than the Vice President.
America cannot afford to remain on a hair trigger until a new President takes the oath of office in January 2009, but that is exactly what will happen unless Congress steps up to ensure that the President stands down on a military strike against Iran. We must take away his blank check.
May 23, 2007- House of Representatives:
[Watch the video of this speech- Windows media]
Mr. Speaker, the President and the Vice President have vowed to repeat the mistakes of history, and they have put into motion a plan to do just that in Iran, even as the House is about to send the President a box of blank checks for Iraq against the will of the American people.
History is worth noting. In 1953, the United States and the United Kingdom launched Operation Ajax, a covert CIA operation to destabilize and remove the democratically elected Government of Iran, including Prime Minister Mossadegh. Why? Oil.
Under Mossadegh, the Iranian Government decided to reclaim Iran's rightful ownership to its national oil treasure, which had been exclusively controlled by the British, who were taking 85 percent of the profits. Oh, by the way, the United Kingdom also kept the books secret, merely telling Iran what its 15 percent take was.
As soon as Mossadegh began to reclaim Iran's oil, it was all over. Operation Ajax was set into motion. The U.S. Embassy in Tehran provoked phony and internal Iranian dissent, while the Brits engineered an Iranian financial crisis by orchestrating a global boycott of Iranian oil. We brought down the Iranian Government and installed the Shah. For two decades we propped him up against the will of the Iranian people. It was all about controlling Iran. It still is.
Today ABC News is reporting exclusively that this President has authorized a new covert CIA plot to bring down the Iranian Government. I ask to submit for the Record the report produced by the chief investigative reporter Brian Ross and Richard Esposito of ABC News.
This is the lead sentence in their story: "The CIA has received secret Presidential approval to mount a covert `black' operation to destabilize the Iranian Government, current and former officials in the Intelligence Community tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com." [Full article below]
We are back in 1953, and it worked so well then. Of course, the Vice President wanted to invade Iran, so we can be sure he will spin new tales of fear in coming days to keep his preferred option, invasion, by land or by air, very much alive. The President knows only one way: My way or the highway. His Vice President knows only one way: Invade and seize control of what you want. And he wants the oil treasure of Iraq and Iran to become wholly owned subsidiaries of the Western oil companies he favors.
With Iraq in civil war, the President has authorized a secret plan to repeat the doomed mistakes of history in Iran. How many billion dollars of reconstruction money from Iraq will be siphoned off to deconstruct Iran?
The American people are virtually shouting at us to pay attention and get our soldiers out of Iraq now. Vast sums of U.S. money are flowing into Iraq, and billions of U.S. dollars are missing. The Special Investigator for Iraq Reconstruction told a San Antonio newspaper last week that corruption in Iraq is endemic and debilitating.
But Prime Minister Maliki has granted Ministers and former Ministers immunity from prosecution by Iraq's Commission of Public Integrity, and, in turn, the Ministers can shield their own employees from prosecution, a government that has been told by this President and Vice President to pass an oil law that transfers control and profits to Western oil companies, just like the good old days in Iran. Overthrowing Iran in 1953 was all about oil. Invading Iraq was all about oil, and the new secret plot against Iran is all about oil.
Oil is the only benchmark this President and Vice President want, and they will keep American soldiers fighting and dying until an oil law is passed in Iraq that gives Western oil companies total control of the spigot and the profits. It's time to unmask the latest doomed plot to overthrow Iran, and it is past time to get our soldiers out of Iraq.
Nothing less than protecting our troops is acceptable.
Bush Authorizes New Covert Action Against Iran
By Brian Ross and Richard Esposito
ABC News May 22, 2007
(Entered into the Congressional Record by Congressman McDermott)
The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on ABCNews.com.
The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions.
"I can't confirm or deny whether such a program exists or whether the president signed it, but it would be consistent with an overall American approach trying to find ways to put pressure on the regime," said Bruce Riedel, a recently retired CIA senior official who dealt with Iran and other countries in the region.
A National Security Council spokesperson, Gordon Johndroe, said, "The White House does not comment on intelligence matters." A CIA spokesperson said, "As a matter of course, we do not comment on allegations of covert activity."
The sources say the CIA developed the covert plan over the last year and received approval from White House officials and other officials in the intelligence community.
Officials say the covert plan is designed to pressure Iran to stop its nuclear enrichment program and end aid to insurgents in Iraq.
"There are some channels where the United States government may want to do things without its hand showing, and legally, therefore, the administration would, if it's doing that, need an intelligence finding and would need to tell the Congress," said ABC News consultant Richard Clarke, a former White House counterterrorism official.
Current and former intelligence officials say the approval of the covert action means the Bush administration, for the time being, has decided not to pursue a military option against Iran.
Vice President Cheney helped to lead the side favoring a military strike," said former CIA official Riedel, "but I think they have come to the conclusion that a military strike has more downsides than upsides."
The covert action plan comes as U.S. officials have confirmed Iran had dramatically increased its ability to produce nuclear weapons material, at a pace that experts said would give them the ability to build a nuclear bomb in two years.
Riedel says economic pressure on Iran may be the most effective tool available to the CIA, particularly in going after secret accounts used to fund the nuclear program.
"The kind of dealings that the Iranian Revolution Guards are going to do, in terms of purchasing nuclear and missile components, are likely to be extremely secret, and you're going to have to work very, very hard to find them, and that's exactly the kind of thing the CIA's nonproliferation center and others would be expert at trying to look into," Riedel said.
Under the law, the CIA needs an official presidential finding to carry out such covert actions. The CIA is permitted to mount covert "collection" operations without a presidential finding.
"Presidential findings" are kept secret but reported to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and other key congressional leaders.
The "nonlethal" aspect of the presidential finding means CIA officers may not use deadly force in carrying out the secret operations against Iran.
Still, some fear that even a nonlethal covert CIA program carries great risks. "I think everybody in the region knows that there is a proxy war already afoot with the United States supporting anti-Iranian elements in the region as well as opposition groups within Iran," said Vali Nasr, adjunct senior fellow for Mideast studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. "And this covert action is now being escalated by the new U.S. directive, and that can very quickly lead to Iranian retaliation and a cycle of escalation can follow," Nasr said. Other "lethal" findings have authorized CIA covert actions against al Qaeda, terrorism and nuclear proliferation.
Also briefed on the CIA proposal, according to intelligence sources, were National Security Advisor Steve Hadley and Deputy National Security Advisor Elliott Abrams. "The entire plan has been blessed by Abrams, in particular," said one intelligence source familiar with the plan. "And Hadley had to put his chop on it."
Abrams' last involvement with attempting to destabilize a foreign government led to criminal charges. He pleaded guilty in October 1991 to two misdemeanor counts of withholding information from Congress about the Reagan administration's ill-fated efforts to destabilize the Nicaraguan Sandinista government in Central America, known as the IranContra affair. Abrams was later pardoned by President George H. W. Bush in December 1992.
In June 2001, Abrams was named by then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to head the National Security Council's office for democracy, human rights and international operations. On Feb. 2, 2005, National Security Advisor Hadley appointed Abrams deputy assistant to the president and deputy national security advisor for global democracy strategy, one of the nation's most senior national security positions.
As earlier reported on the Blotter on ABCNews.com, the United States has supported and encouraged an Iranian militant group, Jundullah, that has conducted deadly raids inside Iran from bases on the rugged Iran-Pakistan-Afghanistan "tri-border region."
U.S. officials deny any "direct funding" of Jundullah groups but say the leader of Jundullah was in regular contact with U.S. officials.
American intelligence sources say Jundullah has received money and weapons through the Afghanistan and Pakistan military and Pakistan's intelligence service. Pakistan has officially denied any connection.
A report broadcast on Iranian TV last Sunday said Iranian authorities had captured 10 men crossing the border with $500,000 in cash along with "maps of sensitive areas" and "modem spy equipment." A senior Pakistani official told ABCNews.com the 10 men were members of Jundullah.
The leader of the Jundullah group, according to the Pakistani official, has been recruiting and training "hundreds of men" for "unspecified missions" across the border in Iran.
July 17, 2007- House of Representatives:
Mr. Speaker, for years the administration has been rigging its case for war against Iran with posturing, finger-wagging and name calling. Those are not my words. One of my hometown daily newspapers, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, authored those words as the first sentence of an editorial they published this morning entitled: "Iran: No, not again." I will insert the Seattle PI editorial into the Record at this point.
[Full editorial below]
The fact is, the mainstream newspapers at home and around the world are expressing grave concerns over what they fear may be the sequel to Iraq, namely, a military strike against Iran.
One of the sources used by the PI editorial is the Guardian newspaper of the United Kingdom which published a story yesterday with this headline: "Cheney Pushes Bush to Act on Iran."
The Guardian reports that: "The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favor of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months."
Ominously, the story adds: "Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said, "Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo."
Thoughtful newspapers and other worldwide people believe the Vice President is pushing for a military strike against Iran. The Vice President's presence and speech aboard an aircraft carrier near Iran in mid-May sent an unmistakable message, says the New York Times.
As the Guardian reports, "The Vice President is winning the war for war inside the administration, and now the American people have to be brought along." That means the administration and its surrogates will make the data say what they need it to say.
We're already beginning to see how a new national intelligence assessment released just today will be manipulated. The report makes a persuasive and fact-driven case for getting our soldiers out of Iraq, because the President shifted away from the real war against terrorism to pursue his own agenda in Iran.
But instead of a sober assessment of what's gone wrong in Iraq, we're hearing that terrorists have reconstituted their operations inside Iran. And the insinuation for military action is clear.
Like many, I would like to know what's really going on in Iran and what Iranian leaders are thinking and doing. Where can we turn for an assessment we can trust? We know the Vice President wants to use deadly force in Iran. We know that there are credible media reports that say the Vice President is winning the war to go to war with Iran. So how are we going to get accurate and reliable information from this administration or anyone associated with it?
Today, the State Department announced it wants a new meeting directly with Iran to talk face-to-face, government-to-government. Ordinarily, I would see this as a welcome, even positive, sign that the administration has finally begun to see the wisdom in diplomacy.
Is that the case, or is an announcement that comes on the same day as the New Intelligence Estimate a sign that the Vice President is about to declare mission accomplished? We don't know the answer, but we do happened in Iraq.
But we do know what happened in Iraq. The PI editorial board reminds us how the administration ran over the International Atomic Energy Agency, its chief, to make a war in Iraq, quoting the PI. "Look where we are now, more than 3,000 American troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis dead in a war that defies reason and sees no end. We fear the same may happen in Iran".
So do I. Tell the President not to go after Iran.
Iran: No, Not Again
Seattle Post-Intelligencer Editorial Board
July 17, 2007
(Entered into the Congressional Record by Congressman McDermott)
For years, this administration has been rigging its case for war against Iran, with posturing, finger wagging and name-calling.
And now, just as Iran has struck an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency for inspection of its nuclear plants, and just as the IAEA chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, has said that country is slowing progress on one of those facilities, the United Kingdom's Guardian newspaper reports that Vice President Dick Cheney is pushing for a military "solution" in Iran. Naturally, President Bush is backing him, going against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, both of whom favor diplomacy over military action (heck, it worked with North Korea).
In May, Cheney paid a visit to the USS John C. Stennis in the Persian Gulf, 150 miles off Iran's coast, for no other reason than to deliver threats. The New York Times reported that while Cheney said nothing new, he "stitched all of those warnings together, and the symbolism of sending the administration's most famous hawk to deliver the speech so close to Iran's coast was unmistakable."
The U.S. rode roughshod over ElBaradei's insistence that Iraq didn't have weapons of mass destruction (he was right). And look where we are now. More than 3,000 American troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis dead in war that defies reason and sees no end. We fear the same might happen in Iran.
April 25, 2006- House of Representatives:
Mr. Speaker, I know it is an election year, and I know President Bush's ratings are at an all-time low, and I know gas prices are very high and the people are restless. Nevertheless, I call upon my colleagues and the President to resist the temptation to start yet another war.
There is an old saying: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." Well, friends, if we fall for the case being made to go to war against Iran, it will be "shame on us." And I define bombing from 40,000 feet as war.
Just as we did in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, a country which had no connection to 9/11 and no weapons of mass destruction, this administration intentionally confused us with regard to Iraq. It is doing the same with Iran. The administration says they want compliance with nuclear treaties but makes it clear that they really will settle for nothing less than regime change.
When I said before the Iraq war that I believed the President would be willing to mislead us into the war if he believed misleading us was necessary to fulfill his plans, I was excoriated, but I was right. I do not characterize the President's motives. I assume he took us into war in Iraq because he sincerely believed it was the right thing to do. We know now that he was wrong about that. The world is less safe. The Iraqis are in turmoil. More Americans have died in the President's plan in Iraq than died in New York City and at the Pentagon.
What the President did with our Iraq policy is being replicated with our Iran policy. There was much to criticize about Saddam Hussein, and there is much to criticize about the ayatollahs and their front men in Iran. We have every right to demand that Iran adhere to its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and to pursue sanctions and other penalties. What we do not have the right to do is to make it impossible for Iran to satisfy our demands without regime change.
When we started demanding regime change in Iraq instead of demanding compliance with U.N. inspectors, we put ourselves on the path to war in Iraq. We are on the same plan and the same path in Iran. We will not talk with the Iranian government, and we will not stop talking about overthrowing it. It is impossible for the Iranian government to satisfy this administration and remain a government, although this administration will immediately deny that.
Every time it appears something is going to work out with the Soviet Union, or whatever, we pull the rug out from the negotiators. Because we don't want negotiation. We don't want to solve the problem. We want regime change. Somehow this administration has got it in its head that it has the right to tell other governments to step aside for people we like better. That is wrong.
We tried it with Mossadegh and put in the Shah and we are back at it again. What we should do instead is to call their bluff and let them save face at the same time. If they say they want nuclear energy, we should say, okay, if it is nuclear energy you want, you won't mind having wall-to-wall U.N. inspectors watching every move you make to keep people from getting the wrong idea.
We make sure that they can't build bombs and let them have what they are entitled to under the NPT: civilian energy. We must quit making the leaders more popular. And we are doing it by making them the guys who stand up to the U.S. We must quit acting like we are going to invade any country that has the wrong regime.
If we attack Iran, as I fear we are on a course to do, we will unleash a hell unlike anything this region has seen. Iran is not Iraq. It has not been under sanctions for 10 years. It has not been bombed flat by the Gulf War. It is a strong nation with weapons. We will make ourselves once again less safe if we attack them.
Mr. Speaker, this administration has now been told on this floor, in public, on the record. The President will come here in about 6 or 8 or 9 months and give us a State of the Union. If he has taken us into a war in Iran, he will deserve what happens.
This country does not need another war. We have already proven the failure of that in Iraq; and because they won't change their mind, they keep doing the same thing over and over again. And now there is an election coming up. The 2006 election is coming and they want to distract us. That is why they are leading us towards Iran.