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Tell truth on troops' stay, says Feinstein

Good for her. Someone needs to be saying this, because it’s apparent that the rose-colored glasses crowd are doing our troops more harm than good by not saying how desperately bad the situation is. Dianne Feinstein needs to be joined by many more who are willing to speak the truth. (SFGate):

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, fresh from what she called a “very sobering” one-day trip to Iraq, challenged President Bush on Friday to “tell the American people the truth” that large numbers of U.S. forces would have to stay in Iraq for several years.

Feinstein was one of four senators who flew to Baghdad and Fallujah on Thursday to meet with American commanders and soldiers and Iraqi leaders. She said the experience of being shuttled around Baghdad by heavily armed guards while wearing an armored vest inside an armored vehicle and flown to and from Fallujah at 100 feet above ground in a Blackhawk helicopter showed that security in the Sunni heartland of Iraq remained a major challenge 1 1/2 years after Saddam Hussein was ousted.

Feinstein, who voted in October 2002 for the resolution authorizing Bush to begin military operations in Iraq, said the president’s decision this week to increase U.S. forces in Iraq from 138,000 to 150,000 before the scheduled Jan. 30 Iraqi elections was “long overdue.”

But she said the president must tell the American people that troops would have to stay in Iraq “for a substantial period of time.”

The rumor in the souk (the marketplace in Iraqi towns) is that we’ll start to pull out after the elections,” the Democrat said. “I believe the American people have to be told the truth.

Every military person says it will take two, three or five years at least. It’s really true,” added Feinstein, who was joined on the trip by Democratic Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware and Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island.

Bush has declined to put a time limit on the U.S. military presence in Iraq, saying to do so would tell insurgents how long they must wait out the Americans. On Thursday, Bush again said at the White House that “at some point in time, when Iraq is able to defend itself against the terrorists who are trying to destroy democracy, as I’ve said many times, our troops will come home with the honor they have earned.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding