Lautenberg Rips Bush And Cheney On War
"We started this fight because we were told things that proved not to be true. We believed in our leaders, and we thought they were telling us the truth," said Lautenberg, a World War II Veteran. "What else would we think? The President, the Vice President, then the chief of the military, Colin Powell, and others -- we had faith in their belief. We had faith in the mission. We had faith, but the mission in Iraq was surrounded in a fog."
Lautenberg had especially harsh words for Cheney after the vice president's bizarre appearance on CNN in which he seemed even more delusional than usual about Iraq.
Here's what he had to say about Cheney's performance:
"Even more disturbing is the behavior and the rhetoric of the Vice President. I don't know how many of my colleagues had a chance to watch the Vice President's interview with Wolf Blitzer this week on CNN's "The Situation Room.' But I encourage my colleagues who have not seen it to watch it. You have to see it to believe it. In that interview, Vice President Cheney boasted of 'enormous successes in Iraq.'The New Jersey Senator also slammed the Bush administration for escalating the war and accused them of misleading the American people by even using the phrase "troop surge."
"He also rejected the idea that Iraq is in a 'terrible situation.' Imagine him dismissing that. The interview was so incredible that the Washington Post discussed it on its front page on Thursday. The Vice President blamed everybody but himself for any troubles in Iraq.
"As far as the Vice President was concerned, it was all the media's fault. What did he say of us, the Congress? He said we were helping the terrorists. Vice President Cheney's boasting of the Iraq successes was on the front page of the Washington Post that day. The story is incredible. It says on the front page of Thursday's paper: 'Defending Iraq war, defiant Cheney cites enormous successes.'' He says that the media is so eager to write off this effort or to declare it a failure. It goes on to say that there are problems in Iraq, but he said it's not a terrible situation.
"Not a terrible situation. Describe that to the families who lost someone in the last few weeks in Iraq."
"The administration's troop increase is not simply a surge," said Lautenberg. "What they did is they searched the word files, probably went to the computer and to the dictionaries to try to find a word that would evade the truth of what this is about. Surge is a euphemism for escalation of our involvement in this war."
And, like so many people in the last few months, Lautenberg commented on the Iraq fantasy world that only the White House seems to inhabit these days -- despite how the American people feel about Iraq and no matter how low Bush's approval rating goes.
"When we hear the Vice President talking about enormous successes, it makes one wonder if the President and Vice President have been shielded from reality by their handlers," he said. "We see it in the continuation of the policy that says don't take any pictures of the flag-draped coffins when the remains of our soldiers are returned to the United States of America; don't do that. It is against the rules. Can you imagine that? That sign of honor to the deceased shielded from the view of the public because underneath that flag lies the remains of some young person."
"It is time to redefine this mission in Iraq, a mission that includes bringing our troops home. The Iraqis say they want us to leave. Members of Congress and military leaders want us to leave, and the American people, in a broad consensus, want us to leave. Bring home those troops, they say."