Obama's Iraq Speech

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Obama's Iraq Speech

WASHINGTON - NIR ROSEN
Available for a limited number of interviews, Rosen is author of In the Belly of the Green Bird: The Triumph of the Martyrs in Iraq and a fellow at New York University's Center on Law and Security.

RAED JARRAR
Jarrar is an Iraqi-born political analyst and Iraq consultant with the American Friends Service Committee. He recently wrote "End of War in Iraq or Rebranding of Occupation? Neither."

Jarrar said today: "Today's date is actually quite meaningless and
people in Iraq are barely aware of it. The critical date is Dec. 31,
2011 -- the bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Iraq signed in 2008
mandates that all U.S. troops and all Pentagon contractors be out by
then and that all U.S. bases be closed or turned over. The loopholes in
that are that the U.S. Embassy is itself a small city and the U.S. is
also building two huge consulates in Basra and Arbil. Also, the U.S.
State Department, oil companies and other foreign companies can maintain
security contractors in Iraq beyond the Dec. 31, 2011 deadline. For
example, the current number of U.S. State Department security
contractors in Iraq is around 3,500 but a New York Times piece recently
revealed a plan to increase this number to 7,000 by the end of next
year."

JOSE VASQUEZ
Executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War,
Vasquez said today: "This notion of 'combat troops' not in Iraq anymore
is incredibly dubious. There are still 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and
as many military contractors."

AARON GLANTZ
Glantz is an editor at New America Media and author of The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle Against America's Veterans.
He said today: "President Obama talks a good game on caring for wounded
veterans and their families -- and he has spent much more money on the
VA [Veterans Administration] than George Bush. But on his watch the
number of soldiers and veterans falling through the cracks has only
increased. A recent Army report showed last year -- the first year of
Obama's presidency -- more soldiers died as a result of suicides, drunk
driving accidents and other high risk behavior than died in combat. The
same report showed spousal abuse is up 177 percent since the start of
the Iraq war and the number of soldiers going AWOL, deserting, and
'missing movement' -- that is failing to deploy when they're supposed to
-- has gone up a shocking 234 percent. Our military and veterans are in
crisis. They need more than words and a few extra dollars. They need
leadership."

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