Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fitzpatrick / Murphy Debate Notes

Patrick Murphy / Mike Fitzpatrick Debate 9/24/06
Doylestown Intelligencer
Doylestown, PA

Note: There was an overflow crowd which sometimes made it difficult to hear. People were, by and large, well behaved, but there were times when audience noise and my distance from the speakers meant I could not hear what was being said. My apologies for the gaps and for anything that I misinterpreted. I think the debate was broadcast on PCN tonight but I missed the opportunity to double check my notes. My apologies.

Introductions – I missed these again. It took awhile to find a place to sit and take notes.

Q1: Why are we fighting in Iraq?

PM: When he was in Iraq there were two objectives: 1) to get rid of Hussein and 2) WMD. #1 was easy, #2, there weren’t any. We need to refocus and bring the troops home, refocus efforts on Afghanistan. We all love our country, Democrats, Republicans, everyone. Why are there only 18,000 troops in Afghanistan but 10 times that in Iraq.

MF: We’re there because a decision made by Congress before MF elected. We deposed a dictator and freed Iraq. In ’04 a provisional government was set up, in ’05 there were elections, mid ’05 10 million Iraqis voted, later in permanent elections 11.5 Iraqis voted. Gen. Abizaid says there are 300,000 trained Iraqi soldiers. The troops will come home with Iraqi democracy is complete.

Q2: In Oct ’02 neither candidate was in Congress when military force was approved. If you had the information available to Congress at that time would you have voted to use force? If you knew what we know today would you vote to use force?

MF: Yes, in ’02. The information used to make that decision was developed in part by both the Bush and Clinton administrations. It is not always right in war to look over your shoulder, you need to look forward. Now, he would not vote to use force. We did not send enough troops or adequate equipment. Quotes Tony Blair – “If we went in and found no WMD the world would forgive us, if we didn’t go and he has them and uses them the world would never forgive us.”

PM: In ’02, he would have believed the president and Colin Powell. Now, it is easy to play Monday morning quarterback. He would not vote yes now. What to do now? We need the moral courage to say we need to turn things over to the Iraqis. It is important to show we are not an occupying force. He served in Bosnia and Kosovo in ’02. They had enough troops and diplomatic leadership. They found peace and did the job right. Now we don’t have diplomatic leadership. We need leaders how have been there.

Q3: Cite specific instances where Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s decisions and actions were detrimental in Iraq?

PM: When he was in Ambush Alley in Iraq his humvee didn’t have doors. If troops don’t have body armor it isn’t a laughing matter. Rumsfeld is trying to close the Willow Grove Naval Air Base and cut National Guard units. He wants Rumsfeld to resign or be fired. Think about which candidate would keep Bucks Co. safe.

MF: Donald Rumsfeld didn’t make the decision on Willow Grove. Fitzpatrick testified before the congressional committee making the decision, in favor of keeping Willow Grove open. Concerns with Rumsfeld – 1) his chief of staff came to the senate to talk about levels of troop force and didn’t ask for enough, and 2) his remark about going to war with the army we have not the army we want to have. Our troops had insufficient equipment. Congress passed special funding to increase equipment funds. MF has been to Iraq twice to see for himself how facilities were working – there was a big improvement in Dec of 05 and June 06.

Q4: President Bush says leaving Iraq before the mission is accomplished would lead to a more dangerous world.

MF: Early withdrawal would be dangerous. Timelines give the enemy a date of withdraw and then can then turn Iraq into a terrorist training ground.

PM: Served in the military, where there are timelines for everything. Until the Iraqis have a timeline it is human nature to sit on the sidelines. Troops serving honorably deserve respect. We should leave a small strategic strike force, 20,000 to 30,000 troops. He mentions that the president doesn’t read the papers.

Q5: What measures would you support to avoid war in the future?

PM: The iconic American eagle has arrows in one talon and an olive branch in the other. American is a moral beacon to others. We need true leadership using diplomatic and economic means, and be a reluctant warrior.

MF: First we need to promote more aggressive diplomatic efforts and he has opposed cuts to diplomatic efforts. Second we need to promote programs that promote peace. For example, he supports Seeds of Peace, which brings children from differing sides of the Mid East conflict to America in the summer, similar to programs for Irish children. Third we need to project a more positive image. He goes back to Murphy’s previous remark and quotes from the Intelligencer from 2.5 months ago, opposing a timeline. We can’t cut and run.

Q6: The Los Angeles Times reports that the United Nations’ anti-American rhetoric is emblematic of the world view of America. How can this be improved?

MF: All of us need to do a better job of projecting a positive image but the UN rhetoric is emblematic of the UN, anti-American and anti-Israel. We need to reform the UN.

PM: It is wrong for foreign leaders to talk about the U.S. president badly, that’s our president. We need leadership. We don’t need folks who don’t get it. President Bush has been derelict in his leadership duties. We need to be an America leading a diplomatic change.

Q7: President Bush says we will fight in Iraq and win. Who is our enemy? It looks like a civil war between Shi’ites and Sunnis.

PM: Our troops are doing a great job. Only when the Iraqis stand up for themselves will the enemy be clear. A poll showed the 80% of the Iraqis want us out.

MF: The enemies are radical fundamentalists. They blow up themselves and others, trying to break the US’s will.

Q8: John Kerry has said the central front of the war is Afghanistan. Has Afghanistan be overlooked?

MF: We have 23,000 troops in Afghanistan, 70% of the troops in Afghanistan are under NATO command. Other NATO nations have made commitments to Afghanistan. If they follow through there will be enough troops.

PM: Kerry is right. 9/11 had one culprit, Osama bin Laden, who is in Afghanistan. We are losing ground in Afghanistan, and the Taliban is stronger. We need to capture and kill Osama bin Laden. The National Guard can provide homeland security. Whether NATO is involved or not, they killed Americans and we can’t forget that.

Q9: Can we fight a war against terrorism when we have such a large national debt?

PM: Discusses debt. Mentions that MF voted for funds to build a teapot museum. We need to implement the 9/11 commission report. We need to protect mass transit. PA has 9 nuclear plants, more than any state except Illinois. He sees no sense of urgency in government. We still aren’t checking ports, etc. We can’t fund VA benefits. Why fund a bridge to nowhere, etc? We need leaders in Washington to work in a bipartisan fashion to pay down the debt.

MF: On the economic issue – PM has not acknowledged the deficit is dropping and there is an 11-14% increase in revenue, job growth, [lost something here]. He voted for radio interoperability, increased homeland security, etc.

Q10: Should we have a plan or legislation to redefine the war on terror? [lost some of this question]

MF: Wish we had a larger coalition of willing to go in. Our allies need to get over their hurt feelings when we went into Iraq without them. We need to learn from history. JFK suggested a flexible response in one of his state of the union addresses. MF sent a copy to the Dept of State for them to read and think about.

PM: We need to understand the war on terror started on 9/11. Colin Powell who said the lesson of Vietnam is to have a clear mission and an exit strategy. Our mission is to capture and kill Osama bin Laden and Al Quada and its network in Afghanistan not Iraq.

Q11: Colin Powell said “the world is beginning to doubt…. [ lost the rest of the quote] / treatment of prisoners.

PM: The US does not condone or conduct torture. It is not right morally and it not right strategically. In a previous war enemy people surrendered to the US because they knew they would be treated humanely. Army values cannot be breached. We must follow the laws of war.

MF: Agrees with PM. He stood with McCain and voted for the McCain amendment.

Q12: What should we do about illegal immigration?

MF: 2 approaches. He opposes amnesty, which was proposed in the senate. The House supports better border security and he likes this. We need to secure the southern border, and he voted to build a fence and increase border patrols, increase funding, punish employers of illegal immigrants.

PM: agrees with MF. There are 11 million illegal immigrants in the US. He supports a fence and patrolling the north and south borders. Use high tech surveillance, crack down on employers. Don’t be fooled by the Bush administration. There has been a decrease in the number of employers persecuted for employing illegal immigrants. Last week the house voted on more border agents, MF didn’t show up to vote. PM doesn’t condone illegal behavior by granting amnesty.

Q13: Terrorism has led to warrantless surveillance. Do you support this?

PM: I support warrantless surveillance when law enforcement agrees it is needed, go retroactively and get the paperwork done. Abide by the law – no unreasonable searches. The war on terror has changed things.

MF: The warrantless surveillance program has saved lives. The New York Times was wrong to put sensitive information on the front page.

Q14: What is your opinion of Pres. Bush, especially in regards to the war in Iraq?

MF: Our troops are doing a great job. The president is bold, resolute and mistaken from time to time. He is a principled man. We should support him as we support the troops.

PM: Bush has not done a good job and it pains him to say that. The Republican majority in Congress has been his accomplice. He has heard that “we are turning the corner” so many times we’re doing laps around the Pentagon. Mentions again making public transit safe and that his pregnant wife takes public transit to work. He wants public transit to be safe. MF has a 37% record on voting for VA benefits. We need to change directions to make families safe.

Q15: What is your position on the US speaking directly to Iran and North Korea?

PM: We need to use every diplomatic means possible to keep America safe. We need multilateral talks but if one on one is needed then we should do that. The clock is ticking.

MF: Increasing diplomatic efforts called for, leverage interests of other countries. Questions PM berating Bush for not speaking to the Iranian president when the Iranian president calls for wiping out Israel and denies the Holocaust.

Q16: Iran and nuclear weapons – how close are they? [missed the wording of this]

MF: yes and quickly [since I didn’t catch all of the question I can’t offer interpretation of his answer]

PM: He is not a career politician. MF was wrong to say PM berated the president. When PM was in the army he was in Germany and visited Dachau and he has been to the Middle East. We need leaders that understand that we need to sit down with the Iranians now, when they are still 5 to 10 years away from having nuclear weapons.

Q17: [something about Bush and making peace in the Middle East an objective]

PM: Israel must understand the US is an ally. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. We shouldn’t play politics with foreign aid. We need to understand what is going on in the world and be proactive not reactive.

MF: [missed first part] Israel has never had a better friend than America, never had a better friend in the White House than George Bush. He has visited Israel. When they pulled out to the 67/68 boundaries but were still bombed. He also saw Palestinians and Israelis living side by side in peace.

Q18: How to you balance security and civil liberties?

MF: We should be guided by the Constitution and our own heart. Says he has lived his whole live in Bucks Co. Takes a piece of each of one of you when he goes to the House floor.

PM: Those in the military take an oath to support the Constitution. We can’t throw that out in a time of war. We need to do what is necessary to make our citizens and families safe. He taught Constitutional law at West Point. On the House floor he will have a copy of the Constitution in his breast pocket, close to his heart.

Closing remarks

PM: Thanks the moderator and the newspaper for sponsoring the debate. We must put partisan politics aside. Mentions making mass transit, nuclear facilities, borders, etc. safe. Will serve and make you proud.

MF: He will put his voting record against Patrick’s any day of the week. He is a true independent representative, 2nd most independent of Republican representatives. Pat has been running for Congress longer than I have. Remark about PM moving into the 8th to run. MF says he is not a career politics. Was a Bucks County commissioner for 10 years. Lived here his whole life. Mentions that on 9/11 he was a county commissioner sacrificing for his community.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We (some of the employees who work at the Willow Grove Air Base ) just saw the part of the debate where Captain Patrick Murphy mentioned Rumsfeld's responsibility in trying to close the base at Willow Grove.

Fitzpatrick tried to correct Patrick Murphy saying that Rumsfeld didn't close it the Base Closure Commission did. Patrick Murphy was right, Fitzpatrick was wrong andshould know better, enough of us at the base have contacted him for help.

Rumsfeld and team put Willow Grove on the list in the first place, they drew the list up, then what the Commission did was say yes, or no, or modify it. The commission gave the Pentagon 90% of what it wanted.

The Commission Left the Willow Grove Air Base open, that is the part the Air Force has. They closed the Naval Station.

If we were not on the list to begin with, then we would not have been subject to this closure. Rumsfeld and team put us on it, and our congressional and senatorial people were lacking, if not unhelpful, which is why we did not get off the list where other bases did . The Blue States suffered more than the red states.

A Federal court ruled that the 111th Air National Guard could not be closed without Governor Rendells OK. Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon are appealing that ruling and trying to close the base. They are also trying to close the 913th Airlift Wing, which the Commission left at Willow Grove.Rumsfeld is hurting the morale of the Pennsylvanians who work there. Unforunately Mike Fitzpatrick is not working hard enough to stop this.

Again Captain Patrick Murphy knew what he was talking about, where Fitzpatrick, who should have known better, since many of the base employees have contacted him did not.