Tuesday, November 20, 2007

John McCain Iraq Memo


In 2003, Sen. McCain Acknowledged Mistakes Made In Iraq, Pushed For Urgent Changes Or “We Are Facing A Very Serious Long Term Problem”

Sen. McCain: “There is no doubt that we have made mistakes …” (CNN’s “Inside Politics,” 8/19/03)

Sen. McCain: “If we don’t turn things around in the next few months, we are facing a very serious long term problem.” (ABC’s “Good Morning America,” 9/3/03)

For Over Three Years, Sen. McCain Has Consistently Advocated For New Strategy In Iraq


Washington Post Headline, August 24, 2003: “McCain Says U.S. Needs More Money, Troops in Iraq.” (Mike Allen, “McCain Says U.S. Needs More Money, Troops in Iraq,” The Washington Post, 8/24/03)

August 2003: “Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said after visiting Baghdad last week that President Bush needs to level with the public about the need for more U.S. troops as well as dramatically more spending to make postwar Iraq peaceful enough for democracy to unfold. McCain said that when he returns from the Middle East he plans to mount a heavy campaign on the issue in meetings with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and other White House officials and during hearings of the Senate Armed Services Committee. ‘We need to tell the American people directly, and I think they’ll support it,’ McCain said from Islamabad, Pakistan. ‘We must win this conflict. We need a lot more military, and I’m convinced we need to spend a lot more money.’” (Mike Allen, “McCain Says U.S. Needs More Money, Troops in Iraq,” The Washington Post, 8/24/03)

· August 2003: NBC’s TIM RUSSERT: “What must be done in Iraq right now?” SEN. MCCAIN: “First, could I say, Tim, the men and women in the military are doing a superb job. … The problem is that they don’t have enough resources. There’s not enough of them, and we are in a very serious situation, in my view, a race against time. We need to spend a whole lot more money to get the services back to the people. We need to get the electricity going, the fuel, the water. And unless we get that done and get it done pretty soon, we could face a very serious situation. … Time is not on our side. People in 125-degree heat with no electricity and no fuel are going to become angry in a big hurry. The sophistication of the attacks on U.S. and allied troops have increased. And what we do in the next several months will determine whether we’re in a very difficult situation or not, and there’s still time, but we’ve got to act quickly.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 8/24/03)

· August 2003: NBC’s TIM RUSSERT: “MR. RUSSERT: How many more troops do you think we need in Iraq?” SEN. MCCAIN: “I think we need, I would guess, at least another division, but we also need people with specialized skills. Linguists we’re running short of. Our Guard and reservists are at the breaking point. We need civil affairs people. The infrastructure, refinery at Basra cannot be fixed. It needs to be totally replaced. It was 30 years of neglect on the part of the Saddam Hussein regime.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 8/24/03)

November 2003: “To win in Iraq, we should increase the number of forces in-country, including Marines and Special Forces, to conduct offensive operations. I believe we must have in place another full division, giving us the necessary manpower to conduct a focused counterinsurgency campaign across the Sunni triangle that seals off enemy operating areas, conducts search and destroy operations and holds territory. Such a strategy would be the kind of new mission General Sanchez agreed would require additional forces. It’s a mystery to me why they are not forthcoming. We cannot achieve our political goals as long as a strategic region of Iraq is in a state of fundamental insecurity.” (Sen. John McCain, Remarks To Council On Foreign Relations, Washington, DC 11/5/03)

· November 2003: “More American forces and a commitment to keep them in Iraq as long as it takes are required to defeat our adversaries, so that Iraqi democracy is not stillborn. As we learned in Vietnam, if we do not defeat them before we leave, our enemies will continue to fight until any government we help establish is destroyed.” (Sen. John McCain, Remarks To Council On Foreign Relations, Washington, DC 11/5/03)

· November 2003: “The simple truth is that we do not have sufficient forces in Iraq to meet our military objectives. I said this in August, after I returned from visiting Iraq, and before the security situation deteriorated further. It is even more obviously true today.” (Sen. John McCain, Remarks To Council On Foreign Relations, Washington, DC 11/5/03)

· November 2003: “We need more troops. The casualties in November were the highest in history. I hope we are achieving some success. We have to achieve success. We cannot lose. But in order to save American lives, we have to be much more robust and do – and send whatever troops are necessary.” (Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday,” 11/30/03)


April 2004: “When I came back last August from Iraq, I said we needed more troops, thousands that were special forces, linguists, civil affairs type of people, that we’d be dealing with this new insurgency that we are now seeing in spades. Yes, I believe we need more, thousands more of the right kind of military personnel.” (CNN’s “Inside Politics,” 4/6/04)

· April 2004: “I was there in last August and have said since then that we needed more troops, we need them very badly. We may be paying a price for not having had more troops there, and I feel sorry for these young men and women having to remain there, but they know their job and I’m sure they’ll do it well.” (Sen. John McCain, Remarks At Media Availability, Washington, DC, 4/11/04)

· April 2004: “[W]hen I was there in Iraq in August, I talked to [the] British. I talked to sergeant majors. I talked to colonels and captains. And I came back absolutely convinced that we needed more boots on the ground. These people warned me. They said, ‘Look, if you don’t have more soldiers here, you’re going to lose control of this situation and you’re going to face an insurgency some months from now.’ I begged and pleaded that we send more troops. Secretary Rumsfeld said, ‘Well, our commanders on the ground haven’t asked for them.’ It’s not up to the commanders on the ground. It’s up to the leadership of the country to make these decisions. That’s why we elect them and have civilian supremacy. We’re now facing a terrible insurgency. We can prevail, but we’ve got to have more people over there to get the job done.” (Fox News’ “Hannity & Colmes,” 4/14/04)

· April 2004: “Third, it is painfully clear that we need more troops. Before the war, the U.S. Army chief of staff said that several hundred thousand troops would be necessary to keep the peace. While criticized at the time, General [Eric K.] Shinseki now looks prescient. I have said since my visit to Iraq last August that our military presence is insufficient to bring stability to the country. We should increase the number of forces, including Marines and Special Forces, to conduct offensive operations. There is also a dire need for other types of forces, including linguists, intelligence officers, and civil affairs officers. We must deploy at least another full division, and probably more.” (Sen. John McCain, Remarks To Council On Foreign Relations, Washington, DC, 4/22/04)

May 2004: “We need more troops in, need more troops now. Yes, there are more troops that are going to stay there, but we may even need more than that, and we have to expand the size of the military. We really do.” (Fox News’ “The Big Story With John Gibson,” 5/10/04)

June 2004: “Some of this could have been prevented if Secretary Rumsfeld had recognized long ago what so many of us were saying urgently, that we needed more troops on the ground in Iraq, particularly of particular specifications, specialties that these people have that are being called up involuntarily.” (MSNBC’s “Hardball,” 6/29/04)

August 2004: “I think the events on the ground right now indicate clearly that we cannot bring anybody home. In certain areas we may even have to strengthen our troop presence.” (ABC’s “Good Morning America,” 8/11/04)

September 2004: “I think that we need more troops in Iraq. I’ve thought that for a long time, election or no election. … [I]’ve been asking since a year ago last August. So I’m not sure that the elections have a lot to do with it, but I’ve been saying since a year ago August that we needed more boots on the ground, particularly in the form of Special Forces, civil affairs, linguists and others.” (CNBC’s “Capital Report,” 9/23/04)

November 2004: “It’s very tough and we still need more troops. We still need more people there. I believe those reports of those young Marines that said, ‘Look, unless we keep a significant presence here, they’re going to filter back in.’“ (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 11/21/04)

December 2004: “[T]he problem that we have here is that the Pentagon has been reacting to initiatives of the enemy rather than taking initiatives from which the enemy has to react to. Many of us, as long as a year and a half ago, said, ‘You have to have more people there. You have to have more linguists. You have to have more special forces. You have to have’ – and the Pentagon has reluctantly, obviously, gradually made some increases. And the problem, when you react, you have to extend people on duty there, which is terrible for morale. There’s a terrific strain on Guard and reservists. If you plan ahead, then you don’t have to do some of these things. The military is too small. The good news is we went into Fallujah and we dug then out of there. And I’m proud of the work. These men and women are magnificent. Their leadership is magnificent. The bad news is we allowed Fallujah to become a sanctuary to start with. So, yes, we need more troops. Yes, we have to win.” (Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday,” 12/5/04)

December 2004: MCCAIN: “I have to say that I want to work with Secretary Rumsfeld because he will be the secretary of defense for an undetermined length of time. And I want to work with him and I want to do the best that I can for the country.” QUESTION: “That’s not a vote of confidence.” MCCAIN: “No, it’s not.” (CNN’s “American Morning,” 12/6/04)

December 2004: “Asked about his confidence in the secretary’s leadership, McCain recalled fielding a similar question a couple weeks ago. ‘I said no. My answer is still no. No confidence,’ McCain said.” (Beth DeFalco, “AP Interview: McCain Says He Has ‘No Confidence’ In Defense Secretary Rumsfeld,” The Associated Press, 12/13/04)

December 2004: “I have strenuously argued for larger troop numbers in Iraq, including the right kind of troops – linguists, special forces, civil affairs, etc. … There are very strong differences of opinion between myself and Secretary Rumsfeld on that issue.” (Beth DeFalco, “McCain says He Has ‘No Confidence’ In Secretary Of Defense,” The Associated Press, 12/13/04)


June 2005: “I think we need – I think we need more troops there … because we’re not staying once we attack and clear. We’ve got stay and expand.” (MSNBC’s “Hardball,” 6/28/05)

· June 2005: “I’ve thought for a long, long time, since the very beginning, that we needed more troops, and one of the reasons why we’ve experienced many of the difficulties we have is we didn’t have enough boots on the ground, and we still do.” (CNN’s “American Morning,” 6/29/05)

August 2005: “We not only don’t need to withdraw, we need more troops there.” (Fox News’ “Fox News Sunday,” 8/14/05)

· August 2005: TIME’s MIKE DUFFY: “Do you think we need more troops?” SEN. MCCAIN: “I’ve always said that … I think we need more and I think they need to stay longer. The problem is, is that we didn’t expand the size of the Army and the Marine Corps and we put enormous strains on the Guard and Reserves and on active duty personnel. We need to expand the Army and expand the Marine Corps, and have more troops over there for as long as is necessary. The irony here is that we could have had less troops here now if we had had more troops when they were needed where, in the view of literally every military person I talked to in Iraq, right after the victory.” (CBS’ “Face The Nation,” 8/28/05)

· August 2005: “Well, I don’t have confidence [in Rumsfeld], but it’s up the president. The important thing is that he has the president’s confidence, and that’s the important thing. … Have I disagreed with the secretary of defense? Yes. But my job is not to have an open confrontation with the secretary of defense. My job is to try to work with him as long as he enjoys the confidence of the president to try and get this job completed. It doesn’t help if I get into some kind of fight with him.” (Fox News’ “News Sunday,” 8/14/05)

September 2005: “I have always said we need more troops. I believed it then. I believe it now.” (NPR’s “Morning Edition,” 9/20/05)

October 2005: “[W]hen I say that I don’t have confidence in [Rumsfeld], I can’t look people in the eye and say that I do [have confidence in him], because so many mistakes were made that – that cost us so much in American blood and treasure.” (PBS’ “Charlie Rose,” 10/31/05)

November 2005: “Securing ever-increasing parts of Iraq and preventing the emergence of new terrorist safe havens will require more troops and money. It will take time, probably years, and mean more American casualties. Those are terrible prices to pay. But with the stakes so high, I believe we must choose the strategy with the best chance of success.” (Sen. John McCain, Remarks To American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC, 11/10/05)

· November 2005: “To enhance our chances of success with this strategy and enable our forces to hold as much territory as possible, we need more troops. For this reason, I believe that current ideas to effect a partial drawdown during 2006 are exactly wrong. … Instead of drawing down, we should be ramping up, with more civil-military soldiers, translators and counterinsurgency operations teams.” (Sen. John McCain, Remarks To American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC, 11/10/05)

December 2005: “I’ve wanted to send troops. I still think we should have more troops there.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press, 12/4/05)

December 2005: “When the first insurgents – or when the looting started, Secretary Rumsfeld said, ‘Stuff happens.’ And then when the insurgency started, he said there was a few dead-enders. The reason why I mention that, there was a gross misunderestimation of the challenge we faced in the post-conflict aspect of Iraq.” (NPR’s “Fresh Air,” 12/6/05)

· December 2005: “If the president wants him on his team, I’m not going to question that. But, as I said – very strong disagreements because early on after the initial military phase, I said, ‘You’ve got to have more troops over there.’ And I didn’t think of it myself. I heard from everybody from sergeant majors to generals saying the same thing; that they didn’t have enough troops over there. And we paid a very heavy price for that.” (NPR’s “Fresh Air,” 12/6/05)


March 2006: “Of course, I would, quote, like to see more troops.” (CNN’s “The Situation Room,” 3/30/06)

April 2006: “It’s well known, because I was asked a direct question about my confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld, that I do not have confidence. But that does not mean that I’m calling for his removal, because that’s what the president of the United States’ job is.” (CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees,” 4/13/06)

June 2006: “You know, I’ve always said that we needed more troops over there. I have said that for years.” (CBS’ “Evening News,” 6/20/06)

July 2006: CNN’s JOHN KING: “The United States is sending more troops to Iraq. What do you think?” SEN. MCCAIN: “I think it’s necessary. I think it was necessary a long, long time ago. I think one of the biggest mistakes we made that we’ve paid a very heavy price for was not having enough boots on the ground. I said that three years ago.” (CNN’s “Larry King Live,” 7/26/06)

August 2006: NBC’s DAVID GREGORY: “But to do that, do you need more U.S. soldiers on the ground now?” SEN. MCCAIN: “I think so. I think so. We took troops from places like Ramadi, which are still not under control, to put them into Baghdad. We’ve had to send in additional troops as they are. All along, we have not had enough troops on the ground to control the situation. Many, many people knew that and it’s – we’re paying a very heavy price for it. But I want to emphasize that we cannot lose this. It will cause chaos in Iraq and in the region, and it’s – I still believe that we, we must prevail.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 8/20/06)

· August 2006: “I know that military commanders on the ground need more troops, whether they’re asking for them or not. But see, this is kind of a false argument. … It’s not up to the commanders on the ground, it’s up to the leaders who assess the entire battlefield situation to decide whether they need. I’ve known very few – General McCaffrey’s going to follow us – I’ve known very few commanders in the field who see I – say, ‘I need help.’“ (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 8/20/06)

September 2006: “I still think we need more troops over there.” (CBS’ “Face The Nation,” 9/24/06)

October 2006: “I would increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps by some hundred thousand people, and I would send more troops over there where necessary, and I would listen very carefully to my military commanders.” (CBS’ “Evening News,” 10/19/06)

· October 2006: “Roughly, you need another 20,000 troops in Iraq, but that means expanding the Army and Marine Corps by as much as 100,000 people …” (Lorna Colquhoun, “ McCain Urges More Troops For ‘Insurgency,’“ The Union Leader, 10/28/06)

· October 2006: “I have said, as long ago as nearly three years ago, when I was asked if I had confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld, I said I did not.” (MSNBC’s “Hardball,” 10/18/06)

November 2006: “I believe that there are a lot of things that we can do to salvage this, but they all require the presence of additional troops. … I also said three years ago, if we don’t have more troops over there, and we don’t do what’s necessary, we are going to be doomed to failure. I gave a speech to the Foreign Relations – Council on Foreign Relations – that said basically that, and I’ve been saying it all along in every hearing, and I’ve been saying, ‘You are going to face this situation we’re facing today if we didn’t have a more robust presence and a better strategy,’ and that’s – I proved to be right in that respect.” (NBC’s “Meet The Press,” 11/12/06)

· November 2006: “I’ve said for a long time that I had no confidence in Secretary Rumsfeld, but that’s a decision to be made by the president.” (Fox News’ “Live Event,” 11/8/06)

December 2006: “We must have more troops over there. That has to be accompanied by a larger Marine Corps or Army. Maybe 20,000 more Marines and 80,000 more Army troops so that we can handle whatever is necessary. And we have to have a big enough surge that we can get Baghdad under control and then Anbar province under control.” (Fox News’ “Special Report With Brit Hume,” 12/12/06)


January 2007: “The presence of additional coalition forces would give the Iraqi government the ability to do what it cannot accomplish today on its own: impose its rule throughout the country. In bringing security to Iraq, and chiefly to Baghdad, our forces would give the government a fighting chance to pursue reconciliation. … There are two keys to any surge of U.S. troops. To be of value the surge must be substantial and it must be sustained – it must be substantial and it must be sustained. We will need a large number of troops. During our recent trip commanders on the ground spoke of a surge of three to five additional brigades in Baghdad and at least an additional brigade in Anbar province. I believe these numbers are the minimum that’s required – a minimum. We need more of the right kind of troops: civil affairs teams, special forces, translators, troops to conduct information operations, among others. The mission of these reinforcements would be to implement the thus-elusive hold element of the military’s clear, hold, build strategy, to maintain security in cleared areas to protect the population and critical infrastructure, and to impose the government’s authority: essential elements of a traditional counterinsurgency strategy.” (Sen. John McCain, Remarks To American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC, 1/5/07)

· January 2007: “Rumsfeld will go down in history, along with McNamara, as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history.” (Roger Simon, “McCain Bashes Cheney Over Iraq Policy,” The Politico, 1/24/07)

April 2007: “After my first visit to Iraq in 2003, I argued for more troops. I took issue with statements characterizing the insurgency as a few ‘dead-enders’ or being in its ‘last throes.’ I criticized the search and destroy strategy and argued for a counter-insurgency approach that separated the reconcilable population from the irreconcilable. That is the course now followed by General Petraeus, and the brave Americans and coalition troops he has the honor to command.” (Sen. John McCain, Remarks To The Virginia Military Institute, 4/11/07)

May 2007: “The war was terribly mismanaged and we now have to fix a lot of the mistakes that were made.” (Republican Presidential Debate, Ronald Reagan Library, Simi Valley, CA, 5/3/07)

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