Ladies and Gentlemen – the Executive Order was signed July 17, 2007.  Do you honestly believe that if they react in this manner to Sen. Clinton they will not take an even stronger stance with you? 

From MSNBC July 19, 2007

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has issued a stinging rebuke to Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, arguing that she is boosting enemy propaganda by asking how the U.S. plans to eventually withdraw from Iraq.

Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman wrote a biting reply to questions Clinton raised in May, urging the Pentagon to start planning now for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

A copy of Edelman’s response, dated July 16, was obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

“Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia,” Edelman wrote.

He added that “such talk understandably unnerves the very same Iraqi allies we are asking to assume enormous personal risks.”

Clinton pushes for withdrawal plan
Clinton, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has privately and publicly pushed Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace two months ago to begin drafting the plans for what she said will be a complicated withdrawal of troops, trucks and equipment.

“If we’re not planning for it, it will be difficult to execute it in a safe and efficacious way,” she said then.

Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines called the response “at once outrageous and dangerous.”

“Redeploying out of Iraq with the same combination of arrogance and incompetence with which the Bush administration deployed our young men and women into Iraq is completely unacceptable, and our troops deserve far better,” said Reines, who said military leaders should offer a withdrawal plan rather than “a political plan to attack those who question them.”

As she runs for president, the New York senator has ratcheted up her criticism of the Bush administration’s war effort, answering critics of her 2002 vote to authorize the Iraq invasion by saying she would end the war if elected president.

Hillary’s letter to Robert Gates:

July 19, 2007

The Honorable Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
The United States Department of Defense
The Pentagon
Suite 319
Washington, D.C. 20301

Dear Mr. Secretary:

On May 22, 2007, I wrote to you to request that you provide the appropriate oversight committees in Congress – including the Senate Armed Services Committee – with briefings on what current contingency plans exist for the future withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq. Alternatively, if no such plans exist, I asked for an explanation for the decision not to engage in such planning.

I am in receipt of a letter from Eric Edelman, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy who wrote that he was responding on your behalf. Under Secretary Edelman’s response did not address the issues raised in my letter and instead made spurious arguments to avoid addressing contingency planning for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

As I noted in my original letter, “the seeds of many problems that continue to plague our troops and mission in Iraq were planted in the failure to adequately plan for the conflict and properly equip our men and women in uniform. Congress must be sure that we are prepared to withdraw our forces without any unnecessary danger.”

Rather than offer to brief the congressional oversight committees on this critical issue, Under Secretary Edelman – writing on your behalf – instead claims that congressional oversight emboldens our enemies. Under Secretary Edelman has his priorities backward. Open and honest debate and congressional oversight strengthens our nation and supports our military. His suggestion to the contrary is outrageous and dangerous. Indeed, you acknowledged the importance of Congress in our Iraq policy at a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee in March, when you stated, “I believe that the debate here on the Hill and the issues that have been raised have been helpful in bringing pressure to bear on the Maliki government and on the Iraqis in knowing that there is a very real limit to American patience in this entire enterprise.”

Redeploying out of Iraq will be difficult and requires careful planning. I continue to call on the Bush Administration to immediately provide a redeployment strategy that will keep our brave men and women safe as they leave Iraq – instead of adhering to a political strategy to attack those who rightfully question their competence and preparedness after years of mistakes and misjudgments.

Other members of this Administration have not engaged in political attacks when the prospect of withdrawal planning has been raised. At the June 7 Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing on Lieutenant General Douglas Lute, I asked General Lute “what level of planning has taken place” and “whether the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs have been briefed about the level of planning.” I also asked General Lute to determine “what kind of timeline would exist if a decision for either military or political reasons were taken to begin withdrawal” and if he considered this kind of planning to be part of his responsibilities.

General Lute replied, “Thank you Senator. I do think such an adaptation, if the conditions on the ground call for it, will be part of this position.”

I renew my request for a briefing, classified if necessary, on current plans for the future withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq or an explanation for the decision not to engage in such planning. I also renew my concern that our troops will be placed in unnecessary danger if the Bush Administration fails to plan for the withdrawal of U.S. Forces. Finally, I request that you describe whether Under Secretary Edelman’s letter accurately characterizes your views as Secretary of Defense.

I would appreciate the courtesy of a prompt response directly from you. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,
Hillary Rodham Clinton

 

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