Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Senator Byron Dorgan: bin Laden is "Osama Been Forgotten"

In a speech on the Senate floor designed to counter Jon Kyl's (R-AZ) arguments in favor of the Bush-McCain Doctrine of escalating the Iraq war, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) turned his attention to the people who actually attacked our country on September 11 and charged the Bush administration with abandoning that mission.

Citing testimony given to the Senate last week by John Negroponte, the Director of National Intelligence, Dorgan spelled out how the preoccupation with a pointless war in Iraq has taken all focus off actually neutralizing the biggest threats to our nation. Here's an except from Dorgan's floor speech on Monday:
Let me read something that Mr. John Negroponte, the Director of National Intelligence said last week. He testified before the Select Committee on Intelligence, and here is what he said:

Al Qaeda is the terrorist organization that poses the greatest threat to U.S. interests, including to the homeland.

Al Qaeda is what poses the greatest threat to our interests, including our homeland. Then he went on to say this. This is again John Negroponte, Director of National Intelligence.

Al Qaeda continues to plot attacks against our homeland and other targets with the objective of inflicting mass casualties. And they continue to maintain active connections and relationships that radiate outward from their leaders' secure hideout in Pakistan.
Dorgan then questioned why al Qaeda has been allowed to run around unchecked everywhere but inside Iraq, why their influence and presence has been permitted to spread throughout the world and asked the question millions of Americans have been asking for over five years -- where's Osama?

"Osama bin Laden, do we know him? Yes. He is the person who ordered -- claimed and boasted -- he ordered the attacks against this country, killing thousands of innocent Americans," said Dorgan. "He still lives, apparently, in a secure hideout, according to the top intelligence chief in this country, in Pakistan. It seems to me the elimination of the leadership of al Qaeda, the organization that attacked this country, that murdered thousands of innocent Americans, ought to be the primary interest of this country."

"Does anybody hear anybody talking about Osama bin Laden anymore? Or perhaps better described as 'Osama been forgotten' these days? Nobody wants to talk about it."

The North Dakota Democrat went on to talk about Bush's plan to ship 22,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq, how overstretched the American military really is and the extent to which the Iraq quagmire has taken away from truly mitigating terrorist threats against the United States.

"The most significant terrorist threat to this country is al Qaeda, and it operates from a secure hideout in Pakistan. If that is true, what are we doing, deciding to find 20,000 troops by pulling some of them out of Afghanistan and moving them to Iraq?" said Dorgan. "If those troops are available, they ought to be dedicated to dealing with al Qaeda and bringing to justice those who committed the attacks against this country. I will have more to say about that at some point, but I did want to make note of what the Director of Intelligence said last week that seems to be almost ignored in this debate about Iraq."

"They are fighting hard to destabilize the Government of Afghanistan. That was our first battle, to go into Afghanistan and kick the Taliban out," he continued. "We need more troops in Afghanistan now, not less, and yet my understanding is the President's plan would divert troops we have in Afghanistan to go to Iraq."

Finally, Dorgan went after Kyl, who had just given a speech in favor of Bush's Iraq escalation plan, while also repeating the same old Republican spin about Democrats having no plan for Iraq.

"My colleague suggested this was a circumstance where some were simply willing to criticize the President but offer no plan of their own," he said in response to Kyl's babbling. "Then he subsequently said the resolution that some of my colleagues will offer in the Senate will advocate a different course of action. That is a plan, I guess, isn't it? If one advocates a different course of action than the President is advocating, it seems to me that is a plan."

I'm pretty sure that Senator Kyl didn’t take the floor again to respond to that question… He was probably on the phone to Karl Rove or the Republican National Committee asking what talking point he should use next.