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June 14, 2006

Cantwell calls for Haditha investigation

Posted by David Postman at 8:14 AM

During debate this morning on an emergency supplemental bill with money for Iraq and Afghanistan, Sen. Maria Cantwell called for a congressional investigation of the killings in Haditha:

"The United State must make sure it does not ever condone indiscriminate, deliberate, killings of civilians."

She said soldiers accused of wrongdoing should be subject to the military justice system:

"But I think we should also play our oversight role here in Congress and make sure that Congress is not leaving the investigation of this issue simply up to the Department of Defense. We need to make sure that Congress is also investigating this issue and giving the accountability and oversight that everyone deserves."

Cantwell also called on President Bush to appoint a special envoy to Iraq, suggesting Bill Clinton or the president's father for the job.

Cantwell's stance on the war has put her at odds with anti-war Democratic activists. The speech this morning didn't include any dramatic turns for Cantwell. But she continued to stress what she has said about 2006 needing to be a year of transition and talked tough about holding the Administration accountable, including the Department of Defense's goal of training and equipping 325,000 Iraqi troops by the end of the year.

"I want to make sure that Congress in our budget process holds them accountable to meeting those goals. This is for the sake of the troops that are on the ground and for our own security; to make sure that the Iraqi government knows that we want the security responsibilities transitioned to them. And we must make it clear that the United States will not stay in Iraq indefinitely.

"I take Prime Minister Maliki at his word. He basically has said that the Iraqi forces could take complete control of security within the next 18 months and that the new government could deal with the militias and that the security forces would take control as quickly as possible. I think we need to continue to push that issue and make sure that we are meeting the milestones that will help that event occur as soon as possible."

UPDATE: Here's the transcript of Cantwell's comments.

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