Retiring GOP congressman breaks ranks on Iraq
Bereuter calls war 'a mistake'; "our country's reputation around the world has never been lower and our alliances are weakened."
Wednesday, August 18, 2004 Posted: 4:07 PM EDT (2007 GMT)
LINCOLN, Nebraska (AP) -- A top Republican congressman has broken from his party in the final days of his House career, saying he believes the U.S. military assault on Iraq was unjustified and the situation there has deteriorated into "a dangerous, costly mess."
"I've reached the conclusion, retrospectively, now that the inadequate intelligence and faulty conclusions are being revealed, that all things being considered, it was a mistake to launch that military action," Rep. Doug Bereuter wrote in a letter to his constituents.
"Left unresolved for now is whether intelligence was intentionally misconstrued to justify military action," he said.
Bereuter is a senior member of the House International Relations Committee and vice chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. He is stepping down after 13 terms to become the president of the Asia Foundation effective September 1.
The letter, sent to constituents who have contacted him about the war, was reported by the Lincoln Journal Star in its Wednesday editions.
In 2002, Bereuter had spoken out in support of a House resolution authorizing the president to go to war.
President Bush has continued to argue the war was justified because Saddam represented a threat to the United States, his neighbors and the people of Iraq.
In addition to "a massive failure or misinterpretation of intelligence," Bereuter said the Bush administration made several other errors in going to war despite warnings about the consequences.
"From the beginning of the conflict, it was doubtful that we for long would be seen as liberators, but instead increasingly as an occupying force," he said. "Now we are immersed in a dangerous, costly mess, and there is no easy and quick way to end our responsibilities in Iraq without creating bigger future problems in the region and, in general, in the Muslim world."
Bereuter said as a result of the war, "our country's reputation around the world has never been lower and our alliances are weakened."
Lincoln City Council member Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican, is facing off against Democratic state Sen. Matt Connealy to replace Bereuter said.
Bereuter declined to answer questions Wednesday about the letter. His spokesman Alan Feyerherm said the congressman "feels the letter speaks for itself."
A powerful series of ads sponsored by MoveOn and featuring repentant Republican voters has yet to air in swing states.
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