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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Democrat Reid Challenges Bush On Various Security Threats

While he and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi challenge President Bush on Bush's course for U.S. involvement in Iraq, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid also calls Bush's moves inadequate on several other security matters facing the United States.

"As much as we're convinced the president has chosen the wrong direction in Iraq, we're increasingly concerned he's headed in the wrong direction in Iran and Afghanistan," Reid, Democrat of Nevada, says. "Five years after we defeated the Taliban, the extremists are returning. Drug production is soaring. And attacks on U.S. and NATO forces are on the rise. By all measures, the country is at risk of slipping away; yet, some reports suggest the president will be moving some U.S. troops out of Afghanistan and into Iraq. This is a terrible mistake."

Bush must put more attention on the mission in Afghanistan, Reid says.

"Although time is short, there is still an opportunity to defeat our enemies in Afghanistan once and for all," he says. "The president must acknowledge what's at stake, and immediately take action to prevent the country from returning to what it was -- a haven for international terrorism."

President Bush will need explicit new authorization from Congress if Bush wants to pursue military action against Iran.

"Much has been made about President Bush's recent saber rattling toward Iran. This morning, I'd like to be clear: The president does not have the authority to launch military action in Iran without first seeking congressional authorization -- the current use of force resolution for Iraq does not give him such authorization," Reid says.

Reid also criticizes Bush's approach to the threat posed by the apparent nuclear ambitions of Iran, saying ultimately the best way to defang the regime in Iran to cut U.S. dependence on Middle East oil.

"Let there be no doubt, the Iranian regime poses one of the great threats of the new century, but the Iranian people -- two-thirds of which are under the age of 30 -- present a great opportunity for progress. Regrettably, this administration has no strategy for connecting with this generation of potential reformers.

"Iran sends millions of barrels of crude oil to theWestern world, and gets billions of dollars in return," Reid says. "Fortunately, we have the power to turn the tables on Iran. That power is energy independence. If the United States led the world in developing new alternative fuel technologies, we could create new jobs, export new products, slow global warming and reduce Iran's leverage on the international stage."

Democrats in Congress are advancing an energy bill that would shift priorities away from oil production to alternative sources.

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