I am concerned that for "campaign reasons" Congress is about to further overstep the boundaries of their job description in relation to Iraq. This can only make things worse for the country and especially for our troops.
The only way to salvage the Iraq situation, in the best interest of the United States and the troops, is to get "visible" politics out of the decision process and the press and get the country unified behind a plan. The current "leadership" -- the president and Congress -- is not even attempting to do that and is failing both the country and the troops.
Whatever reasons the president used to dupe Congress into the initial support of his war is history. Bush is still commander in chief and responsible for commanding the Armed Forces of the United States.
The Congress has no mission and/or authority to take over command. Any attempt to do that would be using the Iraq situation for political gain. This would be a great disservice to our country and our troops.
The Congress can, and should, help to unify the country by forcing the president to put an "Iraq Plan" in place that is best for the country and our troops.
Here is a proposal to be pursued with "ultimate priority:"
1. The Congress form an "Iraq Plan Board" (IPB) comprised of seven congressmen -- three senators selected to represent each party and a chairperson from the House of Representatives to be elected by the entire House. The IPB mission would be to represent the Congress in meeting with the President to establish the following:
- A current mission statement for U.S. involvement in Iraq.
- An agreed-to plan for troop involvement based on that mission statement.
2. The IPB membership, mission statement and schedule be released to the press ASAP to shut off political rhetoric on "troop withdrawal."
This press release would be made by the president indicating his support of the IPB Mission and the overall intent to do what is best for the country and best for the troops.
3. At the appropriate time, determined by the IPB, the president should present the following to the American people:
- The Iraq Mission Statement jointly agreed to by the president and the Congress (through the IPB).
- That, based on that mission, he and the IPB had agreed to a military involvement plan that would get the troops out of Iraq as soon as possible.
- That the military involvement plan would be known only to the president, his directly involved staff and the IPB members.
- That the president was the only one authorized to release any information relative to the military involvement plan and that the IPB would pre-approve the content.
- That for reasons of national security, anyone except the president revealing or "leaking" information about the military involvement plan would be guilty of "high treason." The president, his involved staff and the IPB members would sign an agreement to that effect at their first meeting.
- That the IPB and the president would meet monthly to assure that the military involvement plan was on track and/or updated as required and that the president would keep the public appropriately informed.
The president needs some help from Congress to force him to do his job in the best interest of the country, but attempting to usurp his role as commander in chief would be both bad for the country and counterproductive.
Richard S. Lindfors, Payson