Fleeing before the press could ask him questions Monday, U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman laid out his 10-point plan for how to handle the war in Iraq in a major policy speech on the subject. The “question is not just about when we get out troops home, but also how we get our troops home, and what they leave behind,” Lieberman told the crowd gathered at the V.F.W. in East Hampton.
Inside following an endorsement from the “Vets for Freedom” PAC, Lieberman said if his 10-point plan is followed “we can help Iraq stand on its own faster and begin the drawdown of our troops sooner.” The first step in is to remove the Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield and “reinvigorate our military, from the halls of the Pentagon to the streets of Baghdad,” Lieberman said. In addition Lieberman said he wanted to triple the number of U.S. soldiers embedded in Iraqi units and called on the U.S. to get tougher with Iraqi leadership. He said this is a message he will convey Tuesday when he meets with Iraqi President Talabani and Arizona’s Republican Senator John McCain. As far as withdrawal is concerned, Lieberman said the withdrawal of combat troops “best able to suppress sectarian violence and target and kill the enemy, then you leave our other troops and personnel much more vulnerable to attack. That’s not right.” Lieberman criticized his Democratic opponent, Ned Lamont, for his Iraq exit strategy. “Lamont’s plan is not a plan for changing course. It is a plan for giving up in Iraq,” Lieberman said to a room of applause. During his major policy speech a few weeks ago Lamont said the war on terrorism needs to be refocused on Afghanistan. “To prevail, we must devote to Afghanistan the resources needed to finish the job,” and “we must fully and finally implement the 9/11 recommendations,” Lamont said Sept. 13 at Yale Law School. “The Iraqis need to know that ours is not an open-ended commitment. The Iraqis need to take responsibility for their own future. They will not do so until we make it clear that their fate is in their hands, not ours. They must carry the responsibility of creating a workable political outcome, and they must own the outcome,” Lamont concluded. See how Lamont reacted to Lieberman’s spin Monday in New Haven. Lieberman said Monday that he opposed an open-ended commitment to Iraq, “that is something Ned Lamont and I do agree on.“Lieberman said “staying course,” is not a viable option either which is why he laid out his 10-point plan. And while he said he had not read the National Intelligence Estimate, a report by 16-security agencies that outlines how the terrorist threat has grown since the start of the war, he mentioned it in his speech to make the argument that terrorism will grow exponentially if the U.S. rushes its troops out to meet a “politically pre-set deadline nine months from now.” Lamont used the release of the intelligence report to criticize Lieberman for wanting to keep U.S. troops in Iraq. Lamont, in a letter to Lieberman, said “the Iraq War has and continues to unnecessarily endanger U.S. national security. Never again can a political leader claim otherwise, lest they deliberately ignore the concrete facts presented to us by our intelligence agencies.”