Friday, April 14, 2006

Cantwell Meets with Constituents About Iraq War (UPDATED)

UPDATE: After my original post, Dina called my attention to the more extensive account by David Edelman of this meeting at the bottom of the Washblog post. He lists the attendees, gives some account of their indivitual comments and provides more details on Maria's responses. I encourage you to read the entire thing!

"There were 8 representatives from different organizations and interest groups; each one was there to address Sen. Cantwell's position on Iraq. I was invited into this meeting to represent Military Families Speak Out - Washington state chapter. It took a little more than 6 months of persistence, planning and perseverance for this collective to obtain this meeting.

As the introductions and presentations finished, the last presenter, David Edelman, ended our round table of concerns expressed by pointing out Sen. Kerry's new position plan on Iraq war and asked Sen. Cantwell if she agreed with Sen. Kerry's plan. This was to facilitate opening the discussion for Sen. Cantwell to give explanation of her views and position.

Sen. Cantwell said she agreed with parts of Sen. Kerry's plan, but not in entirety, and had some concerns that if we issue the May 16 deadline and the Iraqi sovereign government is unable to comply, what do we actually do at that point?

Sen. Cantwell then spoke to some of our concerns and while we did not bring up the issue of her vote for the war, she did, repeatedly. Our intent at this meeting was to get clarification on her current position on the Iraq war rather than review the history of how we got there or her vote. However, as she explained her position, it became apparent that her own sense of her vote factors heavily into her current position on the war. She conveyed that since she did vote for the war, she felt a responsibility to that vote and therefore to a responsible plan for stability in Iraq.

She seemed surprised that the group seemed unaware she had a position on the war in that she signed onto the Werner Amendment which addresses transition with benchmarks. She had her staff give us copies of the document. The discussion then moved to transition, more talk of security and stabilization and she again addressed her responsibility to her vote. (I may have the sequencing not in correct order that it occurred here).

She seemed focused on 'transition' as her position. In fairness, I was trying to understand what transition means to her and indicated I did want to hear what she had to say. As near as I can tell, it seems her belief is transition means some kind of assurance that Iraqi security forces can responsibly secure Iraq. As I was struggling to assimilate her expressed thoughts on transition, earnestly wanting to understand her thinking, David pointed out that if it is to be transition in 2006, we are already well into April 2006 and nothing of progress reports or benchmarks in that transition plan are yet in place.

To her credit, she did ask of us to state what we wanted if we didn't agree with her position. This seemed to me to be a way to open further discussion, but given the time constraints, and she knew the time constraints, it also seemed a way to let the conversation drift, having the group problem solve the solution to Iraq, while affording her leeway in not having to expand on her own thinking on her position."-excerpted from the post on Washblog by Lietta Ruger, from Military Families Speak Out - Washington state chapter. Lietta went to Crawford, Texas with Cindy Sheehan. Thanks to Dina Lydia Johnson for passing this along.

No comments: