Credit where Credit is Due
Democrats have developed a very clear path forward. There are three areas we believe need to be addressed:A plan so simple, coherent and obviously right that a bunch of Republicans have appropriated it as their own. Which is fine, I guess. It'd be nice if they credited the Democrats for their national security wisdom on the issue, but we all know that would be going against human nature, making it far too much to ask of the current ethically challenged leadership of the Republican Congress.
* First, 2006 should be a significant year of transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, with Iraqis taking more and more responsibility for their own security. It's time to take the training wheels off the Iraqi government. Iraqis must begin to run their own country. In 2006, the US and our allies must do everything we can to make that possible.
* Second, the Administration must advise the Iraqi people that U.S. military forces will not stay indefinitely in Iraq, and that it is their responsibility to achieve the broad-based and sustainable political environment essential for defeating the insurgency.
* Third, the President needs to submit — on a quarterly basis - a plan for success to Congress and the American people. This plan must specify the challenges and progress being made in Iraq, timetables for achieving our goals and estimated dates for redeployment from Iraq as these goals are met.
The key is that last point, since the other two parts have been floating around as the obvious next step for the last couple of years. The Iraqi army has been just around the corner from the ability to work on its own that there's nothing credible about those claims. The last point involves Congressional oversight, a key part of our system of government.
While we're discussing checks and balances, it looks like Senators are working toward a deal that will link the McCain torture amendment with a version of the Graham habeas corpus amendment. The new Graham amendment will remove habeas claims but will incorporate a proposal by Senator Levin that would allow appeals of decisions by the military tribunals in federal courts. Whether the version of the McCain amendment that emerges from this sausage factory will include the CIA exemption championed by Senator Ted "fucking moron" Stevens remains to be seen.
Yes, boys and girls, this is how sausage gets made. Keep the pressure on your senators to support this compromise without Senator Stevens's pro-torture amendment. This compromise isn't pretty, but it protects the basic principles. The details matter, and your congresscritters need to know what you think the important details are.