Sanders supports Iraq timetable legislation

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(Host) Congressman Bernie Sanders says he’s strongly supporting legislation that calls on President Bush to set a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

Sanders says it’s irresponsible of the president not to have an exit strategy for the Iraq war.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The Congressional resolution calls on the president to begin withdrawing troops in Iraq by the fall of 2006. But it doesn’t set a specific date for a total withdrawal.

Sanders says he’s enthusiastically supporting the plan because he’s very concerned that U.S. troops could be stationed in Iraq for years to come unless Congress intervenes.

(Sanders) “The time is long overdue for the president to give us an exit strategy. It seems to me to be totally irresponsible that we do not have a plan from the president about when we are going to begin withdrawing American troops. And I do not want to see a year from now, two years from now or five years from now the same discussion taking place and more and more Americans dying and getting wounded.”

(Kinzel) Sanders says the continuation of a massive U.S. military presence in Iraq is becoming counter productive to efforts to secure a peaceful settlement in that country:

(Sanders) “Just this past week we had an Iraqi trade union leader come to Vermont who expressed what I think is the feeling of a lot of people in Iraq. These are Iraqis who really think it is time for American troops to be leaving – that American troops themselves are helping foment in a sense helping to divide the Iraqi people.”

(Kinzel) Sanders notes that the resolution is sponsored by a very unusual coalition of House members.

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich is a liberal Democrat. North Carolina Republican Walter Jones is a member of the Armed Services committee and represents a district that includes the Marine base at Camp Lejeune. And Texas Republican Ron Paul describes himself as a libertarian.

(Sanders) “You’re having Republicans increasingly come on board as well as more members of Congress who feel that they were not told the truth by the president about the need to get into the war and the whole question of weapons of mass destruction the so called link between Iraq and Osama bin Laden.”

(Kinzel) Backers of the resolution are hoping to add it as an amendment to one of several appropriations bills that will be considered in the next few weeks.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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