This morning, news arrived that our troops in Iraq have tracked down and killed the evil terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. We are proud of our troops for their tireless work. Their efforts should be commended and their sacrifices should be honored. But the security situation on the ground continues to threaten the safety of our troops. Several hours after Zarqawi's death, 19 Iraqis were killed and 40 were wounded in a roadside bombing in Baghdad. These deaths are a stark reminder of the ongoing violence facing our brave men and women in uniform.
And just yesterday, we learned that our active-duty soldiers, many of them overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, are now distracted with the threat of identity theft. The Washington Post reported that as many as 2.2 million military personnel were among the 26.5 million records mishandled and lost by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The fact that it took nearly three weeks for the Bush Administration to alert those affected is simply the latest example of incompetence in the Bush Administration. It is unconscionable that anyone whose personal information had fallen into the wrong hands would be left vulnerable for 19 days. It is not only wrong, it is a cover up. The Administration has clearly failed in its duty to protect those who have protected us. If we can't even protect the personal records of our men and women in uniform, what does that say about our ability to secure a nation?
Time and time again, I have urged President Bush to present the American people with a strategy to transfer the responsibility for security to the Iraqis and to bring our troops home safely. I support Congressman Murtha's plan to redeploy U.S. forces "over the horizon" to ensure that Iraq does not become a safe haven for terrorists and that the Iraqi people can decide their country's future for themselves. Zarqawi's death should be a resounding call to President Bush and the Republican Congress that we must have a serious debate about U.S. policy in Iraq. His death does not alter the fact that our brave men and women in uniform are fighting a war of choice in which the President sent our troops into harm's way without a plan for victory and without leveling with the American people.