The war in Iraq is non-partisan, with sons, daughters, husbands, fathers and others dying, regardless of their political persuasion, Congresswoman Maxine Waters told more than 200 who attended a West Los Angeles Democratic Club meeting in Venice Thursday, August 18th.
Waters — whose congressional district includes Westchester and Playa Vista — is one of seven co-founders of the “Out of Iraq Caucus” in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The U.S. is spending $1 billion a week in Iraq for the war, Homeland Security doesn’t have a clue, our government has only trained approximately 5,000 Iraqi soldiers for self-defense rather than the 170,000 claimed by the government, and a ‘street heat’ is building up against the Bush administration,” Waters said.
Waters said the Out of Iraq Caucus was founded to put pressure on the Bush Administration and Congress to bring troops home from Iraq.
More than 100 members of the House have joined the caucus since it began the first week of June, Waters told the Venice audience.
“I’m beginning to feel like a real Democrat again,” said Waters to loud applause and cheers from the audience.
Americans need to question our government and demand answers from it regarding this illegitimate war, said Waters.
The more than $1 billion per week the U.S. is spending on the war should be spent here at home, on healthcare, housing, education and employment, Waters said.
That money should be put into our domestic needs, because this war isn’t being paid for by Iraq oil proceeds as we were told, she said.
“First and foremost, we support our brave soldiers who are doing their duty fighting in Iraq, and this caucus is not against them,” she said.
“We have to force President Bush, his administration and elected members of the House and Senate to have open debates about this war,” Waters said.
“We should not have another death when over 1,860 soldiers have already died and over 14,000 seriously injured,” Waters said.
“Our soldiers are suffering physically and emotionally, and our government doesn’t want you to know,” she said.
“Homeland Security doesn’t have a clue and they still don’t x-ray all containers in port, or screen airline cargo in many cases,” the local congresswoman said.
“We need to recognize that we must reduce the possibility of nuclear war in the world, and people must put pressure on their politicians to listen to them,” she said.
“It’s senseless to talk about losing face by pulling out of Iraq, we already did that when we went in,” Waters said.
Waters said she is no “shrinking violet” and will be among the first to fight to protect this country in case of attack, but she said she wants the Bush administration to find Osama bin Laden, and that too many people believe Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11.
Waters praised activist Cindy Sheehan — who lost her son in Iraq — for camping out near the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, waiting for President Bush to talk to her about why people are losing their lives in Iraq.
“Cindy Sheehan is a hero, said Waters, amending that to “Shero,” “and she is trying to get out her message not just about the loss of her son, but the loss of other people’s family members in Iraq.”
Waters said she is encouraged by the number of Democratic clubs starting up over the country, and she encouraged people to demand answers from their elected officials when those officials swing by to raise funds.