With the current debate in both chambers of Congress on the Iraq War and the debate within the antiwar movement about how to react to the Democratic Party’s recent legislative proposals on Iraq , Media Mouse has conducted a review of Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin’s statements on Iraq since 2002. Senator Levin has routinely positioned himself as a critic of the Iraq War, and indeed has taken several admirable positions over the past five years. To begin with, Senator Levin was one of the few who voted against giving President George W. Bush to use force against Iraq. He raised questions about the ramifications of attacking unilaterally and advocated working with the United Nations, even proposing an alternative resolution which would have given President Bush the authorization to use dependent on a series of conditions. Since the invasion, he questioned the costs of the war back in the fall of 2003 and objected to the way in which the Bush administration chose to fund the war through debt spending, investigated the Bush administration’s doctoring and politicizing of intelligence relating to Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and called for “an exit strategy” in 2005.
However, despite many admirable positions, Senator Levin’s stances have not brought the occupation to an end, nor have they really brought it any closer to happening. While critical of the way in which the war is being funded, Senator Levin has chosen to vote in support of every funding request rather than withdraw his support. During the critical fall of 2002 and winter of 2003 period, Senator Levin accepted the Bush administration’s claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and was not as aggressive as he should have been in verifying the accuracy of the administration’s claims. Similarly, while Senator Levin opposed “unilateral” military action against Iraq, he had no underlying objection to military action and–according to a speech delivered in April of 2004–would have supported military action even “in the absence of an imminent threat to our own security” if the United States could “enlist the support of the international community.” In the same speech, Senator Levin stated that he was “glad we’re the world’s only superpower” and has supported the idea that as such, the United States has the right to impose conditions and benchmarks on the Iraqi people.
Statements of Michigan Senator Carl Levin on the Iraq War:
In this statement, Senator Levin argues against an amendment that would remove language in a supplemental spending bill that would require President Bush to “commence a reduction of US forces from Iraq not later than 120 days after the date of enactment.” Levin argues that the language is “essential” because nothing else has been successful in convincing the Iraqis that they have to take responsibility for their own country and that they must make the political compromises that are necessary to end the sectarian violence and defeat the insurgency in Iraq.” Levin argues that the Iraqis have failed to “act to meet the commitments they made to us and to themselves” and that the United States must “keep the pressure on the Iraqi leaders.”
In this statement, Senator Levin asserts that the Iraq Study Group report is another “blow at the policy of ‘stay the course’ that this administration has followed” and that it shows that the Iraqis must take responsibility for their country:
One of these ways is the reduction of our forces in Iraq as a way of pressing the Iraqi government to take the political steps toward reconciliation — sharing resources and sharing power — that only the Iraqi government can take; and that our call for a reduction in forces that could begin at any time is totally consistent with what they are recommending as a means of pressuring the Iraqi government toward this end.”
In this statement on news reports about the results of the Iraq Study Group report, Senator Levin notes the similarities between the Iraq Study Group recommendations and those he advocated earlier in the year, including a gradual “pullback,” that the recommendations would “send a message that the U.S. presence is not open-ended, and would move away from the Administration policy that essentially provides Iraqis with a blank check on the presence of our troops,” “recognize that there is not a military solution to the conflict, and that the resolution must be a political settlement among the Iraqis,” and “they recognize that we must communicate a sense of urgency to the Iraqis, putting pressure on them to reach the political settlement that only they can reach. The Iraqis must understand that we cannot save them from themselves.”
In this statement, Senator Levin argues that:
We must set firm timelines for the Iraqi leadership to reach a political settlement, and stick to them. We must make clear to the Iraqis that we are going to begin the redeployment of our forces from Iraq by the end of this year. Only when the Iraqis understand that our commitment is not open-ended will they have the incentive to make the hard decisions that only they can make to create a unity government that can end the sectarian strife, disband the militias, and begin to defeat the insurgency.”
In response to a press conference by President Bush in which he argued that the United States needs to “stay the course” in Iraq, Senator Levin asserted that “the Iraqi leadership needs a wake-up call, a dose of reality. They need to be told: If you don’t get your political house in order – if you don’t reach a political settlement that takes the steam out of the Sunni insurgency and leads to the dismantling of the Shia militia – then we can’t save you from yourselves.” To do this, Levin argued that the “Iraqis need to hear a wake-up call from the President of the United States” saying that the United States’ presence is not “an open-ended commitment.”
In his comments on an this amendment, which would have expedited the transition of US forces to training and support for Iraqi security forces, began a phased redeployment of US forces in 2006, and required the administration to submit a plan to Congress for its continued redeployment beyond 2006, Levin stated that:
The Administration’s policy of ‘we’ll be there for as long as Iraq needs us’ will result in Iraqis depending on us longer. Three and a half years into the conflict, we should tell the Iraqis that the American security blanket is not permanent. Beginning a phased redeployment this year will add incentives for the Iraqis to make the hard compromises necessary to bring their country together and secure it. They need to do that job themselves and our amendment is one way to prod them to make that commitment and stick to it.
In this statement, Senator Levin states that while the death of al-Zarqawi is “encouraging,” “major challenges remain in achieving political stability so critically important to defeating the insurgents and avoiding civil war.” Levin argues that “the major problem in Iraq remains the sectarian violence rather than the threat posed by al Qaeda” and that the Iraqi government “must now turn to the difficult but critical task of amending their constitution to make it a unifying and inclusive document.”
Commenting on some of the difficulties that the Iraqi government has had in formulating a document that unites the countries different groups, Senator Levin stated that:
For a long time, I have been calling for President Bush and officials of his Administration to put pressure on the Iraqis to meet the timetable they set in their own Constitution to form a unity government and to make the changes to their Constitution that would make it a unifying document. I have called for that pressure to be in the form of conditioning the future presence of U.S. forces in Iraq on the Iraqis meeting their self-imposed deadlines…
…these are critically important matters. There needs to be a Government of national unity. There needs to be amendments to the Iraqi Constitution to make it a unifying rather than a divisive document. But that won’t happen if we don’t insist upon the Iraqis meeting the deadlines they themselves established.
In this statement, Senator Levin commented on a legislative proposal he made on the issue of Iraqi asylum seekers as part of the Senate’s immigration reform legislation. The amendment, titled “The Persecuted Religious Minority of Iraq Relief Amendment,” would help religious minorities that came into the United States fleeing persecution under Saddam Hussein become United States citizens.
This statement describes a resolution proposed by Senator Levin, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) that would urge President Bush to state clearly that the Iraqi government must reach a “political settlement” to the insurgency. In describing the resolution, Levin stated that “the American people are understandably impatient with the Iraqis’ failure to form a unity government and the ongoing violence we have seen in the country” and that “Only the Iraqis can reach a political settlement that unifies their country, and it is essential that the President clearly tell the Iraqis that our continued military presence is conditional upon their meeting the 30-day and 4-month deadlines they have established for themselves in their constitution.”
This statement is a letter written by the three Senators to President Bush urging the President to tell the Iraqis their “future as a nation is in their hands” and that the United States “can’t protect them or save them from themselves.” The letter argues that the Iraqis must come up with a political settlement to the defeat the insurgency and to form a “government of national unity.”
In this statement on the Quadrennial Defense Review, Senator Levin argued that the cost of the Iraq War is not being openly disclosed to the public and that rather than being asked to sacrifice the cost is instead being obscured by borrowing money and adding the costs to the national debt. Levin argues that if the costs were more transparently shared with the American public that it would spark a debate about whether too much is being spent on finding a military solution to the “war on terror.” Levin also raises questions about the long-term sustainability of troop levels in Iraq.
Senator Levin expressed disappointment in the fact that the President’s FY 2007 budget proposal failed to include “the known cost of the war in Iraq” while urging Congress to “make permanent large tax reductions that mostly benefit the wealthiest Americans while adding more record deficits to the national debt.”
In this statement, Senator Levin argues that:
Now that the Iraqi election results are in and Iraq is about to form a new government and constitutional commission, the Bush Administration must make our position crystal clear to the Iraqis. That message should be: our willingness to commit further lives and resources to your future depends on your willingness to amend your constitution so there is a future as an Iraqi nation.”
Levin argues that rather than praising the Iraqi constitution as a “bold constitution that guarantees the rule of law and freedom of assembly, and property rights, and freedom of speech and the press, and women’s rights, and the right to vote,” the Bush administration needs send the message that “he new Iraqi government must amend the constitution to share power and resources more fairly.
In this statement, Senator Levin expressed disappointment that President Bush failed to “urge the Iraqis to make the compromises necessary to amend their constitution and achieve a political settlement.” Levin asserts that the Iraqis must develop a political settlement in the four-month period that they have “set for themselves:”
We can’t amend their constitution for them; only the Iraqis can do that. But given the sacrifices our men and women in uniform have made and given the other costs of this war to our nation, we surely have the standing to tell the Iraqis that our commitment is not open-ended, and they must do their part to put their political house in order.
In his reaction to the President’s speech, Senator Levin rejected President Bush’s assertion that “we will stay as long as necessary to complete the mission” in Iraq and expressed frustration that President Bush did not “send a clear message” to the Iraqis that they must “make the political compromises essential to achieving the broad-based and sustainable political settlement that is in turn essential to defeat the insurgency.” Levin argued that the “key milestone” for this is the four months that the Iraqis have “set for themselves” to amend their constitution.
In response to comments by Vice President Cheney at a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, Senator Levin called on Cheney to “answer questions, not just attack the questioners” asking about pre-war intelligence:
The Vice President said today that ‘any suggestion that prewar information was distorted, hyped or fabricated by the leader of the nation is utterly false.’ In fact, the President needs to explain why he said ‘You can’t distinguish between al-Qaeda and Saddam’ and why he said, after Saddam was removed, ‘We’ve removed an ally of al-Qaeda’ when the Defense Intelligence Agency had said prior to the war that ‘Saddam’s regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements.’
It is easy to make assertions that prewar intelligence was not distorted, hyped, or fabricated before a friendly audience. It is much more difficult – and much more important – to answer the legitimate questions of those who believe that there is a great deal of evidence to the contrary.
This statement includes a table of claims made by the Bush administration about Iraq and the position of the intelligence community. Senator Levin points out significant disparities between the two and asserts that “President Bush and Vice President Cheney have recently accused members of Congress of ‘rewriting history.’ This is just the latest in a long chain of deceptive statements about pre-war intelligence.”
In this press release, Senator Levin highlights declassified materials to show that Iraq did not provide biological and chemical weapons training to al-Qaeda and that there was no close relationship between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. Levin said that:
This newly declassified information provides additional, dramatic evidence that the Administration’s pre-war statements were deceptive. The underlying DIA intelligence simply did not support the Administration’s repeated assertions that Iraq had provided chemical and biological weapons training to al-Qaeda. More than a year before Secretary Powell included that charge in his presentation to the United Nations, the DIA had said it believed the detainee’s claims were bogus. The Administration’s use of this intelligence was disingenuous and misleading.
This press release consists of a letter written by Senator Levin and Senator Harry Reid urging the Bush administration to consider conclusions reached by the International Crisis Group (ICG) that the constitutional process in Iraq will likely fuel the Sunni insurgency unless greater efforts are undertaken to reach a political compromise.
This press release consists of a speech by Senator Carl Levin at the University of Michigan. In the speech, Senator Levin argues that there has been a crisis of accountability in the government with regard to the intelligence failures leading up to the war in Iraq, the failures in post-war planning, and detainee abuse. None of those responsible for the intelligence failures, the failures in post-war planning, or the detainee abuses have been prosecuted.
In this statement, Senator Levin calls for a commission to explore the treatment of detainees in the “War on Terror” since September 11, 2001. Levin argued that “A thorough investigation would protect our troops…We must demonstrate our commitment to the humane treatment of detainees, to strengthen our standing to object to, and take action against, anyone who mistreats an American prisoner of war.”
This press release highlights Senator Levin’s findings in Iraq, particularly that the insurgency is not in its “last throes” as Vice President Cheney declared and that there is widespread participation in the constitutional process. Levin claimed that:
Everyone whom I met on this trip advised that none of the Iraqis – not just Shia and Kurd, but also Sunni Arab – want U.S. forces to leave now. They want our forces to be less visible and Iraqi security forces to be more visible, but they want us to stay for now.
Given that fact and given the consensus that a political solution is necessary if there is any prospect of defeating the insurgency, we need to make clear to the Iraqis that if they are unable to reach agreement on the constitution, we will reconsider our presence in Iraq and that all options will be on the table, including withdrawal. (The logic of that position is that if a political settlement is essential if there is a chance of lessening the insurgency, that without a political settlement the insurgency is not going to be defeated even with our presence.)
This press release is an essay by Senator Levin describing what he learned from a trip to Iraq and the ways in which he believes the United State can “change the dynamic” in Iraq. Levin argues that:
To change the status quo in Iraq, these two things need to happen within the next 40 days: the Iraqis must agree to a constitution on the timetable they have agreed to, and the United States must put forward a detailed road map for drawing down U.S. forces. While taking these steps doesn’t guarantee success, changing the dynamic in Iraq in these ways is the only way a poorly thought through and mistake-ridden U.S. policy can still reach a successful conclusion.
Levin asserts that the all of the Iraqis that he met with want the United States to remain in Iraq. However, Levin argues that the United States must tell the Iraqis that the United States presence will not be permanent and that it is conditioned upon the Iraqis taking steps to beat the insurgency politically.
In this press release issued in reaction to a speech by President Bush, Senator Levin asserts that “The best chance to change the dynamic in Iraq is to make it clear to the Iraqis that, unless the Iraqis meet their own timetable for adopting a constitution, the United States will review our position in Iraq with all of our options open, including a reevaluation of our military commitment.”
In this letter written by Senator Levin and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), Levin argues against setting a “fixed date for departure” from Iraq as such a policy would “…give an incentive to insurgents and jihadists to simply outlast us, and because it would increase the chances of a civil war on our departure.” Instead, the two Senators argue that the Iraqis “must meet their own timetable” for adopting their constitution. The letter goes on to state that “We have opened the door for the Iraqis, but only they can walk through it. We cannot hold that door open indefinitely.”
In this press release, Senator Levin argues that “none of the Iraqi communities” want the United States “to leave precipitously or to leave without a political settlement in hand.” Levin asserts that a political solution to the insurgency–based on the passage of an inclusive constitution–must be coupled with a military counter-insurgency operation that has an “increasingly Iraqi face.”
In this statement, Senator Levin argues that “U.N. sanctions on Iraq achieved their primary objective of preventing Iraq from rearming” but makes no mention of the deaths of some 500,000 Iraqi children due to sanctions against the country in the 1990s. Levin concludes that “while imperfect, sanctions can be a useful tool” if the United Nations more closely monitors countries’ compliance.
In this statement, Senator Levin criticized the way in which the Bush administration excluded the cost of the Iraq War from its FY 2006 budget.
In this letter by Senator Levin and Senator Warner (R-Virginia), Levin urges Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to ask the Iraqis for permission to maintain the United States’ presence in the country, arguing that such a request would be one way to fight the perception that the United States military are “occupiers.”
In this press release, Senator Levin released documents showing that the intelligence community in the United States doubted the claims by the Bush administration that Iraq was training al-Qaeda operatives and that a meeting occurred between 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in April of 2001. Levin states that “these documents are additional compelling evidence that the Intelligence Community did not believe there was a cooperative relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, despite public comments by the highest ranking officials in our government to the contrary.”
This statement by Senator Levin consists of an essay by the Senator in which he outlines some “key factors” on which success in Iraq will be based including training Iraqi troops, having the Iraqi people establish an inclusive government, and changing the dynamic of the United States’ presence in Iraq. Levin argues that political leaders in the country must begin to negotiate in order to overcome their differences. Among the challenges that these leaders face, according to Levin:
One important challenge facing these new Iraqi leaders is how to change the way the U.S.-led coalition is viewed by some of the Iraqi people. Right now, we’re viewed by most as a Western country occupying a Muslim country. That is a very dangerous perception for us and plays right into the hands of the insurgents who are attacking and killing our troops.
Levin argues that this challenge could be overcome having the Iraqi government “invite” United States and international troops to remain in the country. Interestingly, this solution absolves the United States of all responsibility for how their occupation is viewed.
In this statement, Senator Levin criticizes the Bush administration for not including the cost of the Iraq War in its FY 2006 budget.
In this statement, Senator Levin criticizes the Bush administration for not including the cost of the Iraq War in its FY 2006 budget and for not including the full cost of the United States’ military presence around the world. Additionally, Levin called for increased death benefits for the families of soldiers killed in Iraq.
In this press release, Senator Levin criticizes the Bush administration’s FY 2006 budget for its failure to include the costs of the Iraq War.
In this essay, Senator Levin criticized the fact that many serving in the Armed Forces receive are “are incorrect paychecks, inadequate equipment, and unanswered questions regarding the length of their deployments.” To help address these issues, Levin advocates passage of the “Standing with our Troops Act” to add tax incentives for soldiers, allotting costs to replace equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan, expand healthcare coverage for reservists, streamline the process of awarding medals, and reviewing the way troop mobilizations are communicated.
In this statement, Senator Levin calls for the development of an “exit strategy” for the United States forces in Iraq, which Levin argues should have been developed “before we initiated military operations.” To facilitate the development of such a strategy, Levin argues that the United States must stop functioning as an occupying power and must train Iraqi security forces on “an accelerated basis.” Levin further states that:
Regardless of the differences over the policies which isolated us from most of the world, and all of the Muslim world, when we went into Iraq, regardless of the mistakes that were made in failing to have a plan for the post-combat stability phase and the thoughtless disbanding of the Iraqi Army – it is essential that we support our troops. Now that we are there, we must succeed in leaving Iraq secure and free of major civil strife.
In this statement, Senator Levin describes the current military death benefits as “inadequate” in light of the work the sacrifices made by United States soldiers. Levin argues that “our military men and women have opened the door for democracy in Iraq” and that “only people of Iraq can walk through that door.”
In this statement, Senator Levin calls for the development of an “exit strategy” for the United States from Iraq. This strategy would be based on four steps: evaluating the new Iraqi government, discussing an exit strategy with that government, obtaining an invitation from the Iraqi government to stay in Iraq as a military force but not as a “occupying power,” and accelerating the training of Iraqi security forces. Levin stated that “do not think it is wise at this time to say what specific number of troops we would be withdrawing at a particular moment.”
In this statement, Senator Levin criticized the CIA and the intelligence community for their role in promoting the Iraq War:
The intelligence failures before the Iraq War were massive. The CIA’s errors were all in one direction, making the Iraqi threat clearer, sharper and more imminent, thereby promoting the Administration’s decision to forcibly remove Saddam Hussein from power. Nuances, qualifications and caveats were dropped; a slam-dunk was the assessment relative to the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The CIA was telling the Administration and the American people what it thought the Administration wanted to hear.
In this letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Senator Levin and Senator Ted Kennedy the Senators ask Rumsfeld about what “specific policy guidance was provided to military commanders in Iraq before, during, and after the U.S. invasion to guarantee that known stockpiles of explosives and ammunition at the Al-Qaqaa facility and elsewhere in Iraq would be secured or destroyed.” The two Senators argue that previous attempts to obtain this information have been unsuccessful and that issue of looting weapons is a serious one that has ramifications for the success of the Iraq War.
In this press release, Senator Levin announces the release of a report detailing how intelligence relating to the relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda was exaggerated by high-ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq.
In this statement, Senator Levin criticizes the distortion of intelligence to support the Bush administration’s claims:
The massive intelligence failures before the Iraq War were of a totally different kind from the 9-11 failures. As described in the bipartisan 500-page SSCI report, to a significant degree, the failures were the result of the CIA shaping and manipulating intelligence. The CIA interpreted and communicated intelligence information in manner intended to, in my opinion, and for no other discernable purpose than to, tell the administration what it thought the administration wanted to hear about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction and, at one crucial moment, about Iraq having a close relationship with al-Qaeda. The scope and seriousness of this problem of manipulated intelligence to serve policy goals cannot be overstated.
In this statement, Senator Levin argues that the CIA played a key role in providing distorted and politicized intelligence to the Bush administration to support the invasion of Iraq.
In this statement, Senator Levin highlights failures in developing a clear process for the interrogation of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.
In this statement, Senator Levin argues that legislation that will be considered in response to recommendations from the 9/11 Commission should focus not only on the failure of agencies to share information before 9/11 but also on the role that intelligence agencies played in “politicizing intelligence” in advance of the Iraq War.
In this statement, Senator Levin argues that the United States has experienced significant intelligence failures:
We have suffered from massive intelligence failures in the last several years. First, as reported by the 9/11 commission, the intelligence community failed to share information necessary to “connect the dots” in a manner that might have warned us of the coming terrorist attacks. Second, as reported by the Intelligence Committee, much of the intelligence analysis leading up to the war in Iraq was overstated or unsupported, or exaggerated or mischaracterized the evidence in the possession of the CIA.
In this essay, Senator Levin argues that while the failures of the intelligence community were “alarming,” “the central issue of how intelligence on Iraq was misused or exaggerated by Bush administration officials” was not included in a recent report by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Levin argues that this was extremely problematic as:
During a crucial period of debate on whether a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq was necessary, U.S. policymakers were presented with an exaggerated picture of the threat posed by Iraqi weapons programs. Top Bush administration officials then went further and brushed aside the caveats that the Intelligence Community had placed on Iraq’s links to terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
By selectively releasing and mischaracterizing intelligence information that supported an Iraq – al-Qaeda collaboration, while continuing to keep information classified and out of the public realm that did not, the administration distorted intelligence to persuade Americans into believing the actions of al-Qaeda and Iraq were indistinguishable.
This press release, based on a floor statement by Senator Levin, argues that while the CIA made numerous failures in its pre-war intelligence efforts, the Bush administration was responsible for ignoring doubts raise by the CIA, such as those over an alleged meeting between a 9/11 hijacker and an Iraqi agent:
This newly released unclassified statement by the CIA demonstrates that it was the Administration, not the CIA that exaggerated the connections between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. The new CIA statement states that the CIA finds no credible information that the April 2001, meeting occurred, and in fact, that it was unlikely that it did occur.
In this statement, Senator Levin praised the “transfer of governmental authority” and urged Iraqis to “support this interim government and recognize that those who seek to perpetuate violence and instability are working against Iraq’s best interest.”
In this statement, Senator Levin argues that while there have been positive developments, “the United States appears to be losing the war for the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people” as 92% of Iraqis view the United States as occupiers. Levin argues for the need to “reverse the view of Iraqis of the allied forces as occupiers” by giving the interim Iraqi government genuine decision-making power and control over reconstruction resources. This must be part of an effort that will encourage “the ordinary Iraqi” to see the interim government as “an entity that has a positive impact on his or her life, and as an entity that merits support.” Then, Levin argues, “Iraqis will see the insurgents as a threat to their own well-being, rather than as a force against the occupier.”
In this statement, Senator Levin states argues that “the allegations of abuses of Iraqi detainees has shocked the nation and our armed forces” and that:
This inquiry is not just about the behavior of a few soldiers at the Abu Ghraib detention facility. We must not only do what we can to ensure that the perpetrators of these abuses at Abu Ghraib are held accountable, but also those who are responsible for encouraging, condoning or tolerating such behavior, or who established or created an atmosphere or climate for such abusive behavior.
In this statement, Senator Levin argues that finding out who was responsible for the abuses of prisoners at Abu Ghraib is an essential component for the “success of our mission in Iraq.” Levin argued that:
All of those up and down the chain of command who bear any responsibility must be held accountable for the brutality and humiliation they inflicted on the prisoners, and for the damage and dishonor they have brought to our nation and to the United States Armed Forces which is otherwise filled with honorable men and women acting with courage and professionalism to bring stability and security to Iraq.
In this statement, Senator Levin calls for the United States to:
apologize directly to the victims and to the Iraqi people as a whole for these actions. But words alone are not sufficient. Prompt and decisive action that establishes responsibility and holds people accountable is essential here. It will also hopefully convince the world that our free and open society does not condone and will not tolerate this outrageous behavior.
In a statement regarding the abuse of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib, Senator Levin asserted that:
The despicable acts of abuse of detainees in Iraq threaten the security of our troops and our Nation. This is a significant setback for the United States’ efforts in Iraq and around the world. These actions fuel the hatred and fury of those who oppose us…
For the security of this nation, we must root out those responsible and reassure the world that in our open society, criminal actions of this kind will be investigated and punished.
In this statement, Senator Levin dismisses President Bush’s assertion that the only two solutions in Iraq are to “stay the course” or “cut and run.” Instead, Levin argues that there is a third way of correcting the course that the United States is on. Levin asserts that the current situation in Iraq is a result of mistakes made by the Bush administration including disbanding the Iraqi army, allowing civilians to plan for the post-war situation, and not involving the United Nations earlier in the process. Levin concludes by stating that “if we have a chance of succeeding in bringing stability and democracy to Iraq, it will mean learning from our mistakes, not denying or ignoring them.”
In this statement, Senator Levin asserts that “Despite the obvious setbacks that we have experienced, I believe that we can succeed in bringing peace and stability to Iraq. It will help to achieve that goal if we are willing to learn from our mistakes.”
In this speech, Senator Levin argues in favor of involving the United Nations as a full political partner in Iraq and argues in favor of inviting the United Nations to the table in determining a plan for meeting the June 30, 2004 date for transferring sovereignty to an Iraqi government. Levin argued that the war was based on a “massive intelligence failure” and that he “argued against attacking Iraq in the absence of an imminent threat to our own security, unless we could enlist the support of the international community.” Levin also stated that “One of the painful lessons we’ve learned again in Iraq is that military power has limits. I’m glad we’re the world’s only superpower, but we must be super wise when using it.”
In this essay, Senator Levin argues that massive failures were made before the war in eschewing the support of the United Nations and in the use of politicized intelligence. Levin asserts that the United States must learn from its mistakes in Iraq in order to avoid making a similar mistake in transferring sovereignty to the Iraqis before the country is ready. Levin also explains his vote against the war:
Prior to the war, I argued against attacking Iraq in the absence of an imminent threat to our own security, unless we could enlist the support of the international community. I thought we had a better chance of forcing Saddam to comply with the U.N. resolutions if he clearly understood that he was facing the world community rather than just Western powers. And we had opportunities to forge such a coalition: when the U.N. weapons inspectors returned to Iraq in November of 2002 to oversee the disarmament process, it clearly was the international community working to disarm and contain Saddam.
In this statement, Senator Levin expresses that he is “deeply troubled” by the “selective use of information in public statements by the CIA” in an attempt to convince the American public that the Iraqi government had a WMD program despite significant doubts expressed in the classified report delivered to Congress by the CIA.
In this statement, Senator Levin criticizes the Bush administration for underestimating the likely cost of the Iraq War in its FY 2005 budget.
In this statement, Senator Levin criticizes the CIA and the intelligence community for its massive failures in producing accurate intelligence information prior to the invasion of Iraq. Levin criticizes the intelligence community for the fact that the war was largely based on distortions about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and argues that this is an important issue regardless of whether or not one is for or against the war.
In this statement, Senator Levin argues that:
There is now confirmation from the Administration’s own leading weapons inspector that the Intelligence Community produced greatly flawed assessments about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq.
… the Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet, misled the American people before the war about the status of our sharing of US intelligence information with the United Nations inspectors. Director Tenet, after 12 months of indefensible stonewalling, recently relented and declassified the material that I requested, which makes clear that his public testimony before the Congress on the extent to which the United States had shared intelligence with the United Nations on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs was false.
In this statement, Senator Levin criticizes President Bush’s Commission on Iraq for its failure to look at exaggerations of intelligence information by the Bush administration and the “analysis, production, and use” of pre-war intelligence.
In this statement, Senator Levin commented on President Bush’s call for the United Nations to get involved in Iraq:
Simply saying that we want the support of the United Nations isn’t enough. Given the Administration’s unilateral track record so far, actions have to follow words. The Administration must demonstrate a real willingness to share political decision making with the UN so that the UN can play a meaningful role in the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq. Without that, the costs will continue to be borne largely by our military personnel, their families, and our taxpayers.
In this press release, Senator Levin said that it was “appalling” that President Bush said that there is “no difference between Saddam actually having WMD and the ‘possibility that he could acquire weapons.’” Levin went on to state that there is a “huge difference between having something and seeking something” it is “alarming” that Bush cannot recognize this.
In response to the capture of Saddam Hussein, Senator Levin stated that:
While Saddam’s capture is a major achievement, we should beware of premature euphoria. We still face significant challenges in Iraq and in the ongoing global war on terrorism. But capturing Saddam Hussein will hopefully speed up the process of reconstruction and reconciliation in Iraq and lead to the stability that will reduce the risk to our military personnel serving there.
In this statement, Senator Levin criticizes the Bush administration’s decision to exclude some countries from bidding on Iraq countries. Levin argues that the “failure to internationalize the reconstruction of Iraq simply means that American troops will continue to bear a greater burden and face greater risks.”
This letter, written by Senator Levin and Senator Lugar (R-Indiana), asks President Bush to consider recalling Iraqi military units at the mid-officer level and below in order to speed up the process of establishing an Iraqi army.
In this statement, Senator Levin remembers the sacrifices made by those in serving in Iraq and remembers the deaths of the 395 soldiers and 1,889 wounded up to that point. Senator Levin also calls for additional funding for veterans’ healthcare.
In this statement, Senator Levin expresses disappointment in the fact that funding for Iraqi reconstruction was not provided as a loan, which Levin argues “would have given the Iraqis a stake in the reconstruction of their own country, which I believe is important both for them and for us.” Levin also argues that the Bush administration should consider recalling units of the Iraqi army not loyal to Saddam Hussein. Levin raises the issue of learning from mistakes and argues that thus far the Bush administration has not done that.
In this statement, Senator Levin supports the call of the Iraqi Governing Council to recall the Iraqi army:
Would this not more quickly give Iraqis the responsibility for and a stake in securing their own country? And, more importantly, wouldn’t it be better for all concerned if primarily Iraqi soldiers and not Americans were acting to restore security in Iraq and dealing with those who would seek to disrupt it?
In this press release, Senator Levin calls on the GAO to audit the awarding of contracts for Iraqi reconstruction projects in order to examine whether or not contracts worth “millions, and even billions of dollars, have been awarded without full and open competition.”
While Senator Levin argues that he opposes many things in this spending bill such as “Bremer’s unilateral approach to spend U.S. taxpayer’s money on such things as zip codes for Iraq, expensive business school scholarships, and a honey pot for high-priced U.S. consultants,” he will vote for the bill “in order to provide $67 billion to support the American troops who are in harms way in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere.” He also states his support for an amendment that gives reconstruction funds as a loan because “Iraqis must have a stake in the reconstruction of their own country and Iraqis must have a say in decisions that affect their future. The Bayh et al amendment gives them the investment in their own future that is so important to them and to us.”
In this statement, Senator Levin outlines a proposal to use Iraq’s oil as collateral so that the United States can help Iraq secure a loan from a source other than the United States to finance its reconstruction. It would make “Iraqis the designers” of a new Iraq and give Iraq a “financial stake in its own reconstruction.”
In this statement, Senator Levin argues that the report of the chief United States official searching for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, David Kay, is making the “claims the Administration made before, during and after the war” look “more and more dubious.” Levin also expresses hope that the Bush administration will take heed of Kay’s report and stop making “unsupported claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.”
In response to President Bush’s address to the United Nations, Senator Levin stated that he was “disappointed that President Bush continued to downplay the role of the United Nations in Iraq by seeming to relegate the UN’s role to assisting in developing a constitution, training civil servants and conducting free and fair elections.” He also stated that “Unless the UN is more involved in the administration of the physical and political reconstruction of Iraq, key member nations of the UN will not share in the risks and costs of this effort through contributions of financial resources and military troops.”
In response to President Bush’s address to the nation on Iraq, Senator Levin stated that he was “glad the President has finally begun to level with the American people on the costs and number of U.S. soldiers that will be needed for the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq” and that the administration “will have to provide a meaningful role for the UN in the political development of a new Iraqi government and in the reconstruction of Iraq” in order to get troop and resource contributions from other countries.
In response to media reports that the Bush administration was seeking a new United Nations resolution on Iraq, Senator Levin stated that it was a “tragically long overdue recognition of the importance” of getting international help in Iraq. Levin argues that the internationalization of the Iraqi reconstruction effort will hopefully reduce and ease the burdens on US forces, convince Iraqis of the international support for the United States’ military presence, and result in intelligence sharing between nations to stop terrorist attacks.
In this essay, Senator Levin argues that because “our military forces conducted a brilliant campaign to rid the world of the brutal regime of Saddam Hussein” that “now our challenge must be to bring democracy and stability to Iraq.” Levin argues that a critical means of doing this is getting entities such as NATO and the UN involved in peacekeeping and reconstruction efforts. Levin also argues that much of the intelligence on which the war was based was distorted.
In this statement, Senator Levin highlights the fact that the intelligence community had serious doubts about Iraq’s attempts to acquire uranium from Africa yet the claim showed up in President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address and in a January 20, 2003 report to Congress. Levin also points out that the CIA raised concerns about this claim in September of 2002 yet by January of 2003 the Bush administration was still using the claim.
In this statement, Senator Levin argues that while CIA Director George Tenet was right to accept responsibility for the inclusion of the African uranium statement in the State of the Union address, this is only one of many issues pertaining to errors in pre-war intelligence. Levin argues that the National Security Council must take responsibility for their role and that the inclusion of the claim in the State of the Union address was a calculated move by the CIA and the National Security Council. It is one of many likely distortions, including claims about a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda, the reconstitution of Iraq’s nuclear program, certainty that Iraq had chemical and biological weapons, that Iraq had mobile warfare labs, and photos posted online by the White House purportedly showing the construction of Iraqi nuclear weapons-related facilities.
In this press release, Senator Levin announces that he has directed his staff on the Senate Armed Services Committee to “begin an inquiry into the objectivity and credibility of the intelligence concerning the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq immediately before the war and the alleged Iraq-al Qaeda connection, and the effect of such intelligence on Department of Defense policy decisions, military planning and conduct of operations in Iraq.”
In this letter to CIA Director George Tenet, Senator Levin questioned Tenet about a CIA report on Iraqi trailers that the CIA claimed were connected to biological weapons programs despite claims to the contrary by other government agencies.
In this press release, Senator Levin announces that he is visiting Iraq to examine the current security situation, the search for weapons of mass destruction, reconstruction efforts, and US military readiness.
In this statement, Senator Levin explains that the CIA failed to disclose many suspected WMD sites to United Nations inspectors and that the CIA has refused to explain why this information was withheld. Levin raises the prospect that passing along the information “could have worked against the Administration’s timetable for initiating military action against Iraq” and that may account for why it was withheld.
In this press release, Senator Levin expresses hope that different congressional committees can work together to investigate the issue of flawed intelligence because the “security of our people and nation can ride upon it.” Levin further states that intelligence must be accurate “if the United States is to gain international support for taking military action in the future, particularly preemptive action, the evidence the U.S. offers to back up its action must be totally reliable and trustworthy and be seen as such.”
In this press release, Senator Levin supports the decision of the Senate’s Armed Services and Intelligence committees to conduct an investigation into the “the reliability and credibility of our intelligence relative to the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.”