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With the potential for hostilities with Iran rising and uncertain, the top Senate Democrat is calling on acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford to testify publicly before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“Earlier this week, it was reported that the administration’s national security team discussed a plan that would deploy at least 120,000 US troops in the Middle East. Today we learned that personnel were removed from the U.S. Embassy in Iraq,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Wednesday.
“The president himself initially denied that there was a plan, and then seemed to confirm the reports by saying that he would ‘absolutely’ would send troops, and if he did, ‘it would be a hell of lot more than [120,000],'” Schumer added.
A military buildup in the Middle East would be ironic, in the least, for Donald Trump who loudly criticized US military action in Iraq under President George W Bush.
“The news comes as quite a surprise to the American people who have grown quite tired of wars in the Middle East, of the loss of life and fortune when there’s so much that has to be done in America,” Schumer said. “The American people deserve to know what’s going on here. We are talking about not only putting 120,000 U.S. troops in harms’ way in this possible deployment, but also about the safety and the actions of the thousands of troops we have stationed in the Middle East right now.”
Schumer called for hearings by the end of this week but there were no signs such a session had yet been added to the Senate Armed Services Committee schedule.
“The hearings that are done in secret, do not inform the American people of what’s going on, and they are entitled to know,” Schumer said. “Because the lessons of history teach us that when these things are done in secret, behind closed doors, mistakes can be made and momentum built for a course of action that the nation ultimately regrets.
“So I’d repeat: The American people deserve to know what’s going on. If the president and Republicans in Congress are planning to take the United States to a conflict, even a war, in the Middle East, the American people deserve to know that, and they deserve to know why,” Schumer concluded.