Friday, August 25, 2006

Shays Calls For Iraq Exit Timetable

Another formerly pro-Iraq war lawmaker has tired of the "let's just drag this thing out and dump it on the next president" strategy of the Bush administration.

Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), once an ardent supporter of the war in Iraq, said yesterday that the Bush administration should set a time frame for withdrawing U.S. troops. He added that most of the withdrawal could take place next year.

Shays, who faces a tough reelection campaign because of his previous support for President Bush's war policies, made his comments after completing his 14th trip to Iraq this week.

He said he found a "noticeable lack of political will" among Iraqis "to move in what I would call a timely fashion" and concluded that Iraqi officials would act with greater urgency if the United States this fall set a timetable for withdrawal....

Critics said Shays is significantly modifying his stand because he is facing a tough challenge from an antiwar opponent in a state that has become a center of opposition to the war. "Americans have known for a long time that Iraq was a mess, and the only thing that changed is proximity to Election Day," said Bill Burton, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Diane Farrell, Shays's Democratic challenger, said: "I think it is unfortunate it took him 14 trips and three years to recognize that Iraq has been in a constant state of turmoil since the day that Baghdad fell." She added that Shays's timetable may not meet the "expectations of the American public."

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