The following is a transcript of the Democrats radio response to President Bush's weekly radio address:
This is Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island.
While visiting with U.S. troops in Iraq in July 2003 on my first of six visits, Rhode Island National Guard soldiers told me that they needed armor for their vehicles and better body armor. When I returned toWashington and told the Bush Administration officials what the troops wanted, I was told that the supply of both was adequate.
It took monthsof effort by Congress to finally get the National Guard troops the equipment they required to carry out their mission. The response to the lack of equipment for our troops typifies the Bush Administration's failure to plan for the war in Iraq and acknowledge the realities on the ground.
Two and a half years later, this disturbing trend continues. President Bush is not meeting his responsibility to provide Americans with candid information on Iraq. Failing to plan, misstating the casefor weapons of mass destruction, declaring the "mission accomplished"years too soon, ignoring a growing insurgency, and underestimating the costs of reconstruction, have seriously eroded his credibly with the American people and diminished his ability to rally support for the nation's mission.
The American people are eager to hear the President's plan for success in Iraq, rebuilding the country and bringing our troops home.
Instead,the President continues to offer vague generalities and rhetoric with no specifics about what needs to be done and the time and resources necessary to accomplish it. I have found it disturbing that the Bush Administration has attacked the patriotism of those who question the Administration's policies in Iraq.
Baseless, partisan attacks won't help us win the war, won't help the troops and won't protect our nation from our enemies.This is not partisan politics.
In the Senate, Republicans and Democrats joined together to pass an amendment requiring the President to providea detailed plan. Continuing to follow the current course in Iraq is a mistake.
If the President has any hope of regaining the nation's support for operations in Iraq and justifying the growing cost in lives and taxpayer dollars,he must articulate a clear plan for success. He must be candid and honest about the current situation, what is at stake, what it will take to succeed, how long the mission will last and what it will cost.
In two speeches in the past two weeks the President has again failed to provide this plan and these details. Our military won a decisive victory over Saddam Hussein's Army. While the Iraqi people and the world are better off without that tyrant in power, our troops and the American people continue to pay an enormous price as a result of the Administration's mistakes and failure to plan and to be honest.
No one can defeat the United States military and Democrats firmly believe that the U.S. can and must succeed, but the President's open-ended, ill-defined policy will not get us there. 2006 must truly be a year of significant transition in Iraq in which the Iraqi government assumes greater responsibility for its own security.
The President must identify and clearly layout for the American people the political, economic and military benchmarks that must to be met for success if he hopes to regain the trust of the American people and the support of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.