, Salem, MA

Local News

January 11, 2007

Tierney pans Bush's call for more troops

SALEM - President Bush's televised speech last night was a chance to tell viewers how he would change the course in Iraq and justify his plan to increase the number of troops.

Congressman John Tierney, a Democrat from Salem, thinks the president failed.

"He doesn't seem to offer anything new that hasn't been tried before," Tierney said after the prime-time address on Bush's war plans in Iraq. "There was nothing in the presentation that indicated how he expects to get cooperation from the Iraqi government.

"He's ignoring the advice of his own generals, (George) Casey and (John) Abizaid, that increasing troops won't be the solution."

The president called for an additional 21,500 troops to prevent a collapse of the Iraq government, tear the country apart and result in massive killings. The plan envisions Iraq's committing 10,000 to 12,000 more troops to secure Baghdad's neighborhoods.

Tierney criticism of the speech followed that of other new Democratic leaders in Congress and some Republicans, as well as long-established Bush opponents like Sens. Edward Kennedy and John Kerry.

Earlier in the week, Kerry said adding troops was not the answer.

"There is no military solution to the political crisis in Iraq," Kerry said in a statement. "A 'troop buildup' or sending more troops into harm's way to referee a civil war isn't an answer, it's more of the same."

For his part, Kennedy warned that Bush's plan to commit more troops to Iraq would "exact a fearsome toll" on the nation. The Bay State's senior senator is pushing legislation to deny Bush money needed to fund the extra troops, as a way of staving off their deployment. A similar resolution has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Tierney, who was easily re-elected to a sixth term in November, said instead of increasing the number of troops, the president should redeploy them in Iraq, away from front lines.

"Our principal mission ought to transition from combat to training troops, logistics, own-force protection and counter-terrorism, and we ought to begin phase redeployment in the next few months," Tierney said.

Tierney's congressional colleague Martin Meehan, a Lowell Democrat, also was unimpressed with the president's "change of course."

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