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About Those Permanent Military Bases in Iraq

leah's picture

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Have we established definitively yet, that this gang of four isn't just insane? It would certainly explain a lot.

Piggybacking on Lambert's post Halliburton's permanent presence in Iraq, , Reuters has a chilling story that illustrates just how unwilling the majority Republicans are to provide congressional oversight for Bush's policies in Iraq, no matter their attempts to suggest otherwise.

You may remember that when panic set in among Republicans about the impact of the Iraq war on 2006, an amendment to a supplemental bill to fund our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan was passed unanimously that stated clearly none of the money was to be spent on permanent US military basis in Iraq.

Behind our backs, in a late-night Friday conference committee session, the language of the amendment was removed by Republicans.

As originally passed by the House of Representatives, the Pentagon would have been prohibited from spending any of the funds for entering into a military basing rights agreement with Iraq.

A similar amendment passed by the Senate said the Pentagon could not use the next round of war funding to "establish permanent United States military bases in Iraq, or to exercise United States control over the oil infrastructure or oil resources of Iraq."

Of course the point of that prohibition was to lighten our footprint in Iraq, with the hope of convincing Iraqis that we don't intend to stay there indefinitely. I think it may be true that more Iraqis than before are worried about too abrupt a US departure, but that doesn't mean they want permanent military bases.

The only reason we know about this is that Rep. Barbara Lee, the Democrat who authored the original amendment, went to the press. And wow, don't you love the coverage it's received?

Think Progress noticed the Reuters story, (do they miss anything?), and makes an airtight case here that once again, House Republicans are shovelling shit for Bush and the way he's running our Iraqi policy (into the ground).

It appears that conservatives caved to pressure from the administration. Testifying before Congress in April, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice "did not directly answer" a question about whether the Bush administration was planning for permanent bases, and Gen. Abizaid has refused to rule it out. And according to the Congressional Research Service, the Bush administration has asked for more than $1.1 billion for new military construction in Iraq.

Read the rest.

Here's what Think Progress said when the amendment was passed:

Congress has now spoken with a clear and unambiguous voice a time when there are troubling signs that the administration wants to make the U.S. presence permanent in Iraq. For example, the administration is currently constructing a $592 million U.S. embassy in Baghdad that spans the size of 80 football fields.

Think Progress and Atrios were skeptical that the President what heed the stricture.

Should we be encouraged that instead of depending on a signing statement which expresses the intention of the President of the United States not to implement legislation as passed by the congress, this time around, the administration has chosen instead to pull the strings of the puppet Republican majority in order to get rid of pesky provisions that might get in the way of Bush & co’s master plan for Iraq? No, I don’t think so, either.

What on earth is wrong with these guys? Are they just nuts, is that it?

Our permanent presence in Iraq will probably put the final nail in the coffin of Iraq as a democracy.

Permanent American military bases will become a permanent target, not only for insurgent Iraqis, they will function the same way for young Muslims around the world; could "Al Qaeda In Iraq" think of a better recruiting tool, and we taxpayers are going to be paying for it.

It's not yet a done deal, the supplemental bill is in conference, and the Senate version of the amendment was authored by Biden, which probably means that even most centrist Democrats are against those permanent bases; David Obey made an unsuccessful attempt on Friday to reinsert the amendment language, but the fight isn't over yet. Next week, extended debate on Bush's Iraq policy is scheduled in the House.

If you care about this issue, you might try and organize a concerted calling/emailing effort aimed at the Democrats in the Senate, pointing out that they need to call out the fact of this provision being removed; yes, make a big deal of it, and threaten that if it isn't reinstated Democrats won't vote for the funding.

Senators will be reluctant to go that far; look what happened to Kerry when he refused to vote for a funding bill that included no genuine oversight on how the money was to be spent.

Has anyone noticed that Kerry was right - what did that 20 billion meant for Iraqi construction buy us, or the Iraqis?

I half suspect that this is a Rove operation; he gets Republicans to eighty-six that provision, Democrats make a fuss and threaten not to vote for the funding, and voila, Republicans can run against the Democratic culture of defeatism.

You tell me, is this worth pursuing with Senators? It's not as if there aren't plenty of other issues - net neutrality, Specter's proposed amnesty for the NSA law-breaking, and Republicans are set to make more drastic cuts in funding for NPR and PBS.

Don't depend on the SCLM to notice any of this; maybe someone should do a diary on Daily Kos and see if the blogisphere can get some Democrats to at least make a stink about that obscene opulent embassy, and the insanity of funding permanent bases, especially if we point out to them that making that fuss would help to undercut the media’s gullible acceptance of this week’s dog and pony show of a War Council, and the conventional wisdom, straight from Rove’s brain to SCLM keyboards, that Bush is becoming more humble, more open to new voices, or that the moves Bush is making in the context of the insane war he’s led us into in Iraq, is anything other than the same old, same old.

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