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Sen Feingold Says Troops Out by End of 2006

Feingold Proposes Target Time For Completion Of Military Mission In Iraq; Says Senators Must Break "Taboo" On Discussing Timing Of End Of Mission

Proposes Gradual Troop Drawdown with Target Completion Date of December 31, 2006

PRESS RELEASE August 18, 2005

Marquette, WI -- U.S. Senator Russ Feingold today, at a local Listening Session in Marquette, Wisconsin, proposed a target timeframe for the completion of the military mission in Iraq and suggested December 31, 2006 as the target date for the completion of the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.

In June, Feingold introduced a resolution calling for the President to clarify the military mission in Iraq, lay out a plan and timeframe for accomplishing that mission, and publicly articulate a plan for subsequent troop withdrawal. Because of the Administration's recent flurry of conflicting signals about the duration of U.S. troop deployments, Feingold said he feels obligated to help jump start that process by proposing a specific goal for bringing U.S. forces home from Iraq.

The former chief of Australia's armed forces, General Peter Cosgrove, recently argued that the foreign troop presence was fueling terrorist activity in Iraq, and called for foreign troops to be out of Iraq by the end of 2006. "Those remarks were constructive, and we need to be having this discussion here at home. I am putting a vision of when this ends on the table in the hope that we can get the focus back on our top priority and that is keeping America and the American people safe," Feingold said.

Feingold has argued that this kind of clarity, combined with an effective reconstruction effort and constructive assistance to the political process, could help the U.S. to:

-- Undermine the recruiting efforts and the unity of insurgents;

-- Encourage Iraqi ownership of the transition process and bolster the legitimacy of the Iraqi authorities;

-- Reassure the American people that our Iraq policy is not directionless; and

-- Most importantly, create space for a broader discussion of our real national security priorities.

"Intense American diplomatic and political engagement in and support for Iraq will likely last long after the troops' mission is accomplished and they are withdrawn. I expect that we will continue some important degree of military and security cooperation with the Iraqis, as we work with them and with others around the world to combat terrorist networks, whether they are operating in Iraq or Afghanistan or England," said Feingold.

"But it's almost as if talking about completing the mission in Iraq has become 'taboo,'" said Feingold. "It's time for senators and Members of Congress, especially those from my own party, to be less timid while this Administration neglects urgent national security priorities in favor of staying a flawed policy course in Iraq. We need to refocus on fighting and defeating the terrorist network that attacked this country on September 11, 2001, and that means placing our Iraq policy in the context of a global effort, rather than letting it dominate our security strategy and drain vital security resources for an unlimited amount of time."
In late July, Feingold gave the first in a series of national security speeches on the Senate floor. He is scheduled to give the next one this month in Los Angeles, CA.

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