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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today regarding President Bush’s speech in Cleveland on Iraq:
“Today, the President outlined some positive developments in Iraq. Few will disagree that Iraq is better off without Hussein, who now awaits the justice he deserves. In addition, the fact that the Iraqi people have held three democratic elections in the last 14 months and that Iraqi political leaders so far seem to be working to quell sectarian violence in the wake of the Samarra bombing are hopeful signs.
“However, some positive signs do not mitigate this Administration’s gross miscalculations and stunning incompetence in Iraq. When the history of this war is written for future generations, I believe one colossal blunder, above all others, will stand out: the failure of this Administration to put enough troops on the ground at the outset of hostilities, and over the ensuing three years when it became clear that we did not have sufficient forces to secure and stabilize Iraq.
“Furthermore, this Administration was wrong on weapons of mass destruction, wrong on the costs of this war, and wrong in stating that our troops – more than 2,310 of whom have given the ultimate measure of sacrifice – would be greeted as liberators.
“The Administration even botched critical elements of the war plan that were acutely within its control. It had no plan for getting Iraq’s infrastructure built or repaired, and it failed to properly equip our own troops with the protective gear and equipment that they needed – and deserved.
“At this point, I believe it is imperative that the Administration make crystal clear to Iraqi officials that they must make significant strides toward the formation of a unity government in the months ahead. This must be a year of transition for American forces in Iraq. While our commitment to helping the Iraqi people form a democratic government that can establish and maintain security is unwavering, it must not be unending.”