It was five years ago today that President George W. Bush landed on the deck of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and, against the backdrop of an enormous “Mission Accomplished” banner, declared major combat operations in Iraq at an end. Lest there be any confusion about what was and wasn’t said and seen that day, here it is in two parts:
Some critics are particularly irked by what White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said during her briefing yesterday: “President Bush is well aware that the banner should have been much more specific and said ‘mission accomplished for these sailors who are on this ship on their mission.’ And we have certainly paid a price for not being more specific on that banner. And I recognize that the media is going to play this up again tomorrow, as they do every single year.”
Cue House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller‘s head exploding:
“This latest White House comment is reprehensible and should be repudiated. Yet again, the Bush Administration, faced with its own failures in Iraq, is trying to rewrite history rather than write a new policy to end the war and bring our troops home in a timely and responsible manner.
“The assertion yesterday by the White House that the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner was meant simply to describe the mission of the USS Abraham Lincoln and its sailors in 2003 is clearly not believable and should be publicly repudiated by the President. The unjustified and misleading declaration of ‘Mission Accomplished’ by the President was the entire basis for his speech five years ago today, and it is a deep insult to all Americans and our servicemen and servicewomen that the White House is once again deliberately distorting the truth.
“The White House knowingly hung the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner in a public relations effort to convince the world that military operations in Iraq had been completed quickly just as White House and Pentagon officials had repeatedly said would happen before the war began. Well, we all know what happened after that, because so far over 4,000 military personnel have lost their lives in Iraq and nearly 30,000 have been wounded.
“The President’s reckless and shortsighted decision to send America into an unjustified war in Iraq is one of the most costly and devastating foreign policy decision ever made by an American president. What the White House owes Americans is a new policy in Iraq that will bring our troops home, not a new version of history that only deceives Americans further, just as the Administration knowingly deceived Americans and the Congress in the buildup to this tragic war.”
However, the White House has been backing off on this for quite a long time — this is from more than a year ago:
And, lest we forget, the media had a lot to do with how this was spun in the first place.
More from Barbara Lee and Lynn Woolsey, after the jump…
From Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland:
“In front of the infamous ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner backdrop, 5 years ago President Bush told the nation that ‘major combat operations in Iraq have ended.’ That was not true then and it is glaringly not true today, as we have lost over 4,000 brave soldiers and more than 28,000 others have been wounded.
“The Bush administration misled the American people into believing there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; misled many to believe Iraq posed an imminent threat, and; misled the nation about a false connection between the tragic events of 911 and Saddam Hussein.
“Misinformation has been the driving force behind the failed US occupation in Iraq. It is time we fully fund the safe redeployment of our troops and contractors from Iraq.”
From Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma:
“But the American public gets it. They see first hand the toll that this war has had on our economy here at home, and the damage that has been done to our reputation abroad. And they know that no country should be forced to bear the costs of such a failed policy in blood and treasure that we have endured. They have turned against this war and are demanding that those of us in Washington stand up to the President and force him to bring our troops home.
“That’s why across this country Americans are holding rallies and vigils to mark this occasion. And in the Bay Area members of the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Unions are giving up a day’s pay and marching in the streets to show their opposition to the President’s continued mistake.
“3,900 Americans, and tens of thousands of Iraqis, have lost their lives since the President’s announcement. It’s time for this madness to end – it’s time to bring them home.”
UPDATE @ 4:35 P.M. THURSDAY: From Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo:
“It is easy to get caught up in the political rhetoric that has been associated with the Iraq War since the onset, but the undeniable facts are that five years after being told that major military operations had ended the war in Iraq, that conflict continues to take a grave toll on our troops and their families. It is undermining our military readiness, our fight against terrorism worldwide, our standing in the world and the American economy.
“While we have spent an estimated $46 billion on reconstruction contracts in Iraq many of our domestic priorities are being overlooked. American’s want a greater investment in education, health care, roads and bridges, and a solution to the current economic downturn that has led to a housing crisis and a credit crunch.
“While the Bush administration is dead-set on hemorrhaging money with failed policies and misplaced priorities the Democratic Congress is committed to enacting policies that not only protect our nation but invest in our economic security. We are all counting down the days until we have a new administration committed to working with the Congress, listening to the American people, and getting America back on track.”