Friday, December 28, 2007

A Veto for Iraq

My head is now officially spinning. Shrub will veto a defense spending bill at the request of the Iraqi's:

CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - President George W. Bush intends to veto defense legislation after Iraq objected to a provision that could freeze its assets in the United States if Americans sue the country, the White House said on Friday.

Iraqi officials raised their concerns with U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker about 10 days ago and when administration officials took a closer look at the provision they agreed that it could pose "grave financial risk" for Iraq, tying up assets needed for reconstruction, the White House said.

Iraq also discussed with the United States the possibility of pulling its assets, about $20 billion to $30 billion, out of U.S. institutions if the defense policy bill became law, a senior administration official said on condition of anonymity.

Congressional Democratic leaders House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the administration should have raised its objections earlier.

"It is unfortunate that the president will not sign this critical legislation," they said in a statement. "Instead, we understand that the president is bowing to the demands of the Iraqi government, which is threatening to withdraw billions of dollars invested in U.S. banks if this bill is signed."

The White House said it became more acutely aware of the potential consequences for Iraq and its relations with the United States after Baghdad raised its concerns.

WTF? Does this mean that Iraq can now tell shrub what to do? Can they tell us to leave Iraq? (please). The bill included a pay raise for troops, so maybe shrub was just looking for an excuse:

The broad defense policy bill also authorizes a pay raise for U.S. troops, expands the size of the Army and sets conditions on the Bush administration's plan to build a missile defense system in Europe.

Either way, this is one of the strangest political moves I've ever seen.

Added: Pelosi and Reid respond:

“Despite the Administration’s earlier support for the Department of Defense authorization bill, it appears that President Bush plans to veto this legislation, which is crucial to our armed forces and their families.

“The Defense bill passed both houses of Congress by overwhelming bipartisan margins and addresses urgent national security priorities, including a 3.5 percent pay raise for our troops and Wounded Warriors legislation to remedy our veterans’ health care system. It is unfortunate that the President will not sign this critical legislation.

“Instead, we understand that the President is bowing to the demands of the Iraqi government, which is threatening to withdraw billions of dollars invested in U.S. banks if this bill is signed.

Will they ever learn? If shrub is given a choice between our troops or rich cronies, he always sticks with the cronies.

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