Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he and his colleagues on the House International Relations Committee met with National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley on Thursday September 29, 2005. Mr. Hadley is the top advisor to the President for National Security Affairs including the war in Iraq. The meeting was held in the U.S. Capitol and only the Chairs and Ranking Members of the International Relations Committee were invited to the meeting.
“This is the first time in five years that the National Security Advisor has made an appearance before Members of the International Relations Committee and I commend President Bush for his outreach. This is a new development and a new course of action by President Bush to open up the channels of communication between the White House and the International Relations Committee,” Faleomavaega said.
“Mr. Hadley briefed us about the war in Iraq and other security matters facing our nation. In turn, I drew Mr. Hadley’s attention to the fact that as a percentage of the islands’ population American Samoa has the highest casualty rate in the U.S. In fact, the Iraq war death rate per 1 million population is almost as high for American Samoa as for the 10 highest states combined. As of this week, American Samoa has now lost seven soldiers in Iraq and I am deeply concerned about where we are going with this war.”
“Iraq has serious, internal problems. A constitution has not yet been passed. Arab Sunnis remain opposed to the proposed draft and are pressuring the U.S. to broker a deal. The top U.S. Commander in Iraq, General George Casey, warns that conditions may worsen even if a constitution is approved. General Casey also disclosed that only a single Iraqi battalion is capable of independent operations. These are troubling developments since U.S. plans to reduce U.S. forces in Iraq next year rely heavily on whether or not a constitution is passed and whether or not we can turn over responsibility for security to Iraqi security forces.”
“While I am supportive of promoting democracy throughout the world, we went into the war in Iraq because we were told Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. As it turned out, he did not. Again, Hussein possessed and used chemical and biological weapons against thousands of Kurds but the more critical question for the U.S. engaging in war was whether or not he had nuclear weapons, and he did not.”
“So our policy now is to provide regime change and offer the people of Iraq an opportunity to establish a democratic form of government. In the process, almost 2,000 U.S. soldiers and Marines have been killed in combat. Some 20,000 are wounded and maimed for life. And, over 50,000 Iraqis have lost their lives since the beginning of this war.”
“I believe it is time for us to win this conflict and bring our troops home. As I shared with the President’s National Security Advisor, the people of American Samoa are contributing significantly to the defense needs of our country and there is a sense of pride among our people that our sons and daughters are serving with distinction and honor. I salute our troops and I stand with our soldiers and I join with you in praying for their safe return,” the Congressman concluded.