THE PLANK DECEMBER 6, 2006
Newsweek's Michael Isikioff and Mark Hosenball have a fascinating piece on Silvestre Reyes, who is soon to be the next chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. In an interview, Reyes said that he wants to increase troop levels in Iraq:
"We’re not going to have stability in Iraq until we eliminate those militias, those private armies," Reyes said. "We have to consider the need for additional troops to be in Iraq, to take out the militias and stabilize Iraq ... We certainly can’t leave Iraq and run the risk that it becomes [like] Afghanistan" was before the 2001 invasion by the United States.
Reyes--a Vietnam War veteran who partially lost his hearing in that conflict--even compared his position to that of another Vietnam vet, Sen. John McCain, a staunch supporter of the Iraq war. Like Reyes, McCain also has called for an increase in U.S. troop strength. When asked how many additional troops he envisioned sending to Iraq, Reyes replied: "I would say 20,000 to 30,000--for the specific purpose of making sure those militias are dismantled, working in concert with the Iraqi military."
When a reporter suggested that was not a position that was likely to be popular with many House Democrats, Reyes replied: "Well again, I differ in that I don’t want Iraq to become the next Afghanistan. We could not allow Iraq to become a safe haven for Al Qaeda, for Hamas, for Hizbullah, or anybody else. We cannot allow Iran or Syria to have a free hand in there to further destabilize the Middle East."
Reyes also told Isikoff and Hosenball that Pelosi knew his current position on the war before choosing him. Anyway, this stance should give him more credibility with the media when he confronts the Bush administration over various past and present issues. --Isaac Chotiner