Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Jack Kaltenhauser v. Gabby Giffords: Iraq

From Jim Ehl

Seems that some time back Jack Kaltenhauser (in Iraq) received a letter from Rep. Giffords. Below is his answer. I found it interesting and forward it because it contained not so much his opinion, but because it gave a lot of facts.

Jim

----- Original Message -----
From: Jack Kaltenhauser
To: 'Representative Gabrielle Giffords'
Sent: Tuesday, January 15, 2008 12:17 AM
Subject: RE: From the Office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords

Representative Giffords,



You continue to demonstrate that from you years of experience in military and foreign affairs that you do not have a clue what is happening in the real world outside of Washington DC. Your state you have visited Iraq on two separate occasions, how long were those trips? One or two days? Did you talk to the soldiers and the many American contractors who are actually doing the work in Iraq? No you spent your time hobnobbing with the elite Washington insiders stationed in the International Zone and herd of military O5 & O6’s who are stationed at Camp Victory, most of who are also Washington insider here to get their “tickets” punched for advancement. Did you go out to the FOB’s where the “real” soldiers are actually going out on the patrols into the neighborhoods of Baghdad, Al Anbar, Mosul, Kirkuk and Mahmudiyah? Did you talk to the Corporals, Sergeants, and Specialist who are on the front lines of this campaign? Again your answer is, “No”. The how do you to profess to know what is happening on the ground in Iraq.



You claim that this is “The President’s four and half years of military action in Iraq …” This is not the President’s military action, it is military action which was authorized by United States Congress in October 2002 under Public Law 107-243, with a 296 to 133 vote in the House and 77 to 23 vote in the Senate. That represents 68 ½% of the Congressmen and 77% of the Senator voted to authorize the use of the United States Military in Iraq. So the military actions taken in Iraq are those of the People of the United States of America as authorized by United States Congress. Your claim there is “no a clear plan as to how long or to what extent will be engaged there.” Maybe you do not understand the plan but has been clear to me since my original deployment into Turkey in February 2003. We are at war with terrorist, our involvement with continue until they are destroyed and can inflict further attacks on American interests around the world. We will leave Iraq when the situation on the ground is stable and the Iraqi security forces are strong enough to keep their country from falling back into the control of the terrorists and they supports.



If as you claim you are so concerned the extreme costs of the battles of the WAR on TERROR then you need to take the funding for the WAR off budget and introduce a bill in Congress to pay for the military operations with War Bonds like we did during the First and Second World Wars. I am sure you would be totally surprised at the willingness of the American People to support the costs of the WAR if they knew that is where the funding is actually going and they could have a tangible return on their investments.



In your letter you made the assertion that the Iraqi government needs to be more productive. At the same time as you are slamming the Iraqi government for their lack of action, the congress of which you are currently a member made not forward progress in the requirements of the office. In the House the Defense Authorization Billed was introduced by Rep. Skelton (D-Mo) on 20 March 2007 it had 579 amendments attached most having nothing to do with the Operations of the Defense department or the War on Terror, it was passed by the House 17 May 2007 or 58 days to process through the House. The bill was then sent to Senate where Senator Reid kept if off calendar until a vote on 1 October 2007 (the day the bill was suppose to into effect by law) the beginning of fiscal year 2008. The is took from 1 October until 12 December 2007 for the Senate/House Conference Committees to work out the differences in the bill and get it passed and sent to the President. That bill still has not been authorized because when was sent to the President it has language which the Executive Branch had warned that if it remained in the bill the President would Veto, the President held true on the Veto on 28 December. So at this time the Defense Authorizations for FY 2008 remain unfunded. It is now 107 days after the date this bill needed to be completed. The lack of the ability of the US Congress to do their job is deeply apparent. This is a body of representatives who on the average make $169,300 dollars a year not including the numerous benefits which they do not have to pay, transportation on military aircraft, medical care at military facilities, free official mail, staff paid for by the taxpayers, who live in the safety of Beltway around Washington DC, who are guarded by the Capital police, and other federal agencies, yet you can’t complete your work on time. Meanwhile your counterparts in the Iraqi government face threats to the lives on a nearly daily basis, they are attacked by the very insurgents you would allow to take of their country with mortars and rockets while they sit in session. Their average salary $120,000 they have to travel through their country under guard of special security team of highly trained guard in highly armored vehicles. They have worked to set up a government of which has only been in existence for less than 3 years. You are part of a government with over 200 years experience and the body to which you work has not done anymore that the Iraqi government. You and the other members of the US Congress has no record to stand on when you call for more action from the Iraqi government.



Finally the United States Congress does not have the authority under the US Constitution to dictate to the Pentagon or Commander in Chief on how to conduct military operations. Your role in the military is to fund the them through the Defense Authorization bill which I have shown above you have failed to do. If you feel that the War on Terror is wrong then exercise your rights as a member of Congress and do not fund the Department of Defense. Do not try to control the Department of Defense with hundreds of amendments and delays in their funding so that you Grandstand with the other members of your party (socialists). I talk about how much you have done when the truth is you have not done a DAMN thing but go to parties and take campaign contributions from Washington area lobbyists.



You and your ilk sicken me, and you can believe I am working to see that your Congressional term does not exceed your current two years.





J. Kaltenhauser

Taxpayer

Tucson, AZ



J.(Jack)L. Kaltenhauser

Auditor


From: Representative Gabrielle Giffords [mailto:az08ima@mail.house.gov]
Sent: 14 January, 2008 21:41
To: jkaltenhauser
Subject: From the Office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords


January 14, 2008

Dear Friend,

Thank you for contacting me about the war in Iraq . As a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, I have engaged in many hours of hearings with Administration officials and policy experts. I have traveled to Iraq twice to see first-hand how our operations are working and how they can be improved. These experiences have made me confident that the situation in Iraq and the global war against terrorism is more complicated than President Bush seems to recognize.

The President's four and half years of military action in Iraq have come at a staggering cost. We have lost nearly 4,000 American lives, with seven times as many wounded. So far, we have spent more than $500 billion in Iraq , which is more than $10 billion per month, and we still have no clear plan as to how long or to what extent we will be engaged there.

The long-term costs of this war are escalating. Our involvement in Iraq has subjected our military to extraordinary stress, requiring repeated deployments and allowing insufficient recovery and training time for our troops. The war has also had dire consequences for the readiness of our military. I have serious concerns that the war in Iraq has pushed our Army -- especially the Guard and Reserve components -- to the breaking point. In late September, the Chief of Staff of the Army, General George Casey, testified that the repeated deployment of our Armed Forces over the past few years has seriously weakened the Army's ability to respond to emerging threats.

Additionally, I am deeply concerned that the war in Iraq has diverted precious resources from our fight against Al Qaeda and international terrorism. In early December 2007, Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Armed Services Committee that "in Afghanistan, we do what we can; in Iraq, we do what we must." This statement is indicative of the fact that our efforts in Afghanistan have suffered from a lack of focus. Our commitments in Iraq have prevented us from dedicating the forces necessary to fight and defeat Islamic extremism in the central front of the war on terror: Afghanistan .

In light of these facts, I believe that we must immediately begin a responsible withdrawal of all of our combat forces from Iraq while initiating a diplomatic offensive in the region. This approach would demand accountability from the Iraqi government and limit our military presence to special operations and rapid reaction forces for the purposes of striking Al Qaeda and training the Iraqi Security Forces.

In early September, I heard testimony from Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus on the status of the surge. Although they indicated limited success in securing some areas of Iraq , it is clear that no significant progress has been made toward political reconciliation. Furthermore, while violence is down in some parts of the country, Iraq is still far from being safe and secure. This is unacceptable. Unless the Iraqis can resolve their differences and compromise on issues such as de-Ba'athification, the equitable distribution of oil revenues, and the disarmament of sectarian militias, any improvements in the country's security will be temporary, at best.

Since my term in Congress began, I have consistently voted for measures that challenge the president's Iraq policies. I am a cosponsor of the Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act, H.R. 2956, which would require redeployment of our forces to begin within 120 days. I am also a cosponsor of H.R. 3159, which would guarantee U.S. soldiers at least one year at home for every year they are deployed. Both bills passed the House earlier this year with my support and are now awaiting Senate consideration.

In addition, I have supported the following measures on the House floor:

oHouse Concurrent Resolution 63: Disapproving of the President's military surge (February 16, 2007);

oH.R. 1591: Supplemental appropriations legislation imposing strict withdrawal timelines for American troops from Iraq (April 25, 2007);

oOverride of President Bush's veto of withdrawal timelines (H.R. 1591) (May 2, 2007);

oH.R. 2929: A bill that prohibits the establishment of permanent bases in Iraq (July 25, 2007);

oH.R. 3087: A bill that requires the Department of Defense to plan for the redeployment of troops in Iraq and report to Congress on their progress (October 2, 2007); and

oH.R. 4156: The Orderly and Responsible Iraq Redeployment Appropriations Act, a supplemental appropriations bill imposing a strict withdrawal timeline that would aim to redeploy most American forces by the end of 2008. It requires a shift in mission from combat to training, targeted counterterrorism missions, and protection of U.S. personnel in Iraq . (November 14, 2007).

As long as our servicemen and women put their lives on the line every day in Iraq , I will continue to fight in Congress for a more effective strategy-one that supports our troops, bolsters our military readiness, focuses our efforts on fighting international terrorism. I strongly support our men and women in uniform who risk their lives to protect and defend our nation. Our armed forces must have the tools, training, and support they need to be successful in any mission.

I always appreciate hearing from constituents, like you, who are informed and interested in issues of important to Arizona and the nation. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if you require assistance. My job as your representative is to help you connect with federal agencies, access services and get your policy questions answered thoroughly. Feel free to sign-up for e-news updates on my website at www.giffords.house.gov.


Sincerely,

Gabrielle Giffords

Member of Congress

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