Published June 11, 2006
WASHINGTON – Hello. I am Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the Democratic Leader of the United States Senate.
This week, America received good news from a place we don't often see it -- Iraq.
First came reports that our military tracked down and destroyed Al Qaeda terrorist Zarqawi.
He was a cold blooded murderer who got what he deserved. With his death, America continues to serve notice to those who would do us harm. You can run. You can hide. But you'll meet a just fate.
Then came news that Iraq's Prime Minister has filled his cabinet. With the Iraqi government now complete, the country is another step closer to assuming control of its own future.
Today, I congratulate our troops and the Iraqi people, and offer a prayer that more good news follows
We're now into the fourth year of the Iraq war, with staggering human and financial costs to our nation. Almost 2,500 brave American soldiers have given their lives, and nearly 18,000 more have been wounded. America's taxpayers have contributed well over $300 billion to this effort.
As the Iraqis turn to Baghdad and their new government for answers about the future, we turn to Washington and George W. Bush.
Our troops and the American people have been exceedingly patient as previous mileposts in Iraq have passed without progress. The President is asking too much if he expects us to do it again.
With Zarqawi gone and the cabinet filled, we need more than platitudes next week when the President convenes a conference with Iraq's leaders and his War Cabinet. He must present a concrete plan -- a plan for Iraqis to take control of their own security.
Last year, the United States Congress -- on a bipartisan basis -- passed legislation demanding President Bush make 2006 the year of significant transition in Iraq. We are approaching the mid-point of 2006, but instead of transitioning out, President Bush recently sent in more troops to handle the surge in violence
To most Americans, this looks like we're moving in the wrong direction, at a time when our national security demands we chart a new course.
As our troops are bogged down in Iraq, the threats to our freedom around the world have grown.
In North Korea.
Now Somalia. And in our own hemisphere, where anti-American leaders have shown a willingness to leverage our addiction to foreign oil.
These threats will not hold until we are ready to meet them. They will only grow worse.
Which is why -- more than ever -- it is time for the President's plan.
Iraq is THIS President's war. It is up to him -- not the next president, as he has suggested -- to turn Iraq over to Iraqis.
He must reach the political solutions that are desperately required so our troops can begin to come home, and America can refocus its attention on destroying Al Qaeda and addressing the threats that have grown on the Bush administration's watch.
Shortly before Memorial Day, I had the great privilege to meet two Nevada mothers -- Gloria Salazar and Helana Lukac.
Their sons-Corporal William Salazar and Private John Lukac-both died while serving in Iraq.
Corporal Salazar at 23. Private Lukac when he was just 19.
These two young heroes are no longer with us, but our obligation to them remains bright as day.
The mission they started should end with honor, and it is up to President Bush to make sure it does.
I'm Senator Harry Reid. Thank you for listening.