Bill doesn’t set date for Iraq pullout
WASHINGTON – Left-leaning interest groups on Thursday warned that Colorado Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar faces a negative ad campaign that will cause “shock and awe” if he continues to push an Iraq war bill that does not set a firm deadline for withdrawing troops.Salazar’s bill is “toothless political cover for those who don’t really want to change failed Bush policy,” leaders of VoteVets.org, a veteran’s group critical of the Iraq war, and a handful of others said in a conference call with reporters.Salazar “is putting himself and his career in front of the lives of American soldiers,” warned Jon Soltz, an Iraq veteran and chairman of http://www.votevets.org, which has already spent millions of dollars on television ads against members of Congress who support President Bush’s strategy in Iraq.”If he continues to push it, there’s going to be political ramifications for him,” Soltz said.The groups made their threat as the Senate debates a military spending bill that will help decide the future of the Iraq war.Salazar is offering his proposal as an amendment. So far, he has attracted support from several moderates in both parties, including co-sponsor, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. Their measure would make the Iraq Study Group’s recommendations U.S. policy for the war.The bipartisan group of political and policy experts said that if Iraqis met a set of benchmarks and other changes were made, the U.S. could begin pulling back troops by March.Salazar maintained Thursday that it’s time to change direction in the war but that any proposal must have bipartisan support to pass Congress.”We need a statement that says we have had enough,” he said. “It’s time for a new strategy.”The left-leaning groups are pressuring senators to support a rival Democratic measure sponsored by Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, which would require troop withdrawal to begin within 120 days and to be completed by the end of April 2008.Any senator who does not support a firm withdrawal date will face “shock and awe from our organization,” Soltz said.”The Salazar amendment is a fake amendment – it will not force the president to change policy at all,” Soltz added.