Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Friday, June 23, 2006

Time to Pack in Iraq?

by Senator Larry Craig

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” The story goes that this was the definition Albert Einstein gave for insanity. It reminds me of the plan some congressional Democrats have to set a deadline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. None of my colleagues in the House and Senate are insane, but this so-called “cut and run” strategy has reared its head before. It’s the same bad plan, but with new salesmen.

Almost as soon as Baghdad fell in 2003, some in Congress began to call for withdrawal of U.S. forces based on dates that were basically pulled from a hat. As time passes, these calls resurface, perhaps slightly repackaged with different labels. Again and again, the American public rejects them, and rightly so.

Sadly, the idea of leaving early is not unique to Iraq. We left Vietnam before the mission was completed. The same was true of Beirut in 1983 and Somalia in 1993. History has been harsh in showing us what happens when we leave before the mission is accomplished. Somehow, though, congressional Democrats are convinced that this time, the consequences will be different.

Don’t be fooled, though. The outcome, just as before, would be lasting damage to the United States abroad, making us a target for future attacks. It’s difficult enough fighting terrorists who promote a fascist ideology. We shouldn’t look for ways to undermine ourselves too.

What we must do is, for the most part, what we and 28 allied nations have been doing: providing a stabilizing force in Iraq, and killing or capturing terrorist forces, so that the budding democracy can take root there and grow.

A stable, democratic Iraq benefits not just the United States, but the entire region of the Middle East, which, until a few years ago, had little hope for peace and prosperity in our lifetime. Just across the border in Iran, pro-democracy groups and progressive students look to the U.S. and Iraq for inspiration and encouragement. What will they see? Hopefully, two governments that will stand firm for their founding principles in the face of difficulty.

Without question, things have not gone perfectly in Iraq, and no one makes that claim. Progress has been sometimes hard to distinguish. Like many Americans, I have had my moments of doubt, and have at times felt overwhelmed by the challenges our country, the coalition, and the Iraqi people face in establishing a stable country in a volatile region.

However, recent events tell us things are changing.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki successfully formed a national unity government of officials elected by Iraqis. That same day, another hurdle was overcome. The annihilation of Zarqawi was an achievement that signifies many things. It is unquestionable proof that support for Al Qaeda in Iraq is dwindling. And it is dwindling at the hands of former supporters, who not only led coalition forces to Zarqawi, but will also turn others like him over to Iraq and U.S. forces in the near future. This human intelligence has already led to many arrests and seizures of terrorists and their resources.

Getting Zarqawi also demonstrates that U.S. and Iraqi forces are learning and adapting. As Iraqi forces grow and improve in capability, American men and women in uniform will relinquish the reins of security to Iraqis.

That is the standard that must be achieved, not some arbitrary date on a calendar that comes whether we’ve succeeded or not.

The people of the United States know how important it is to receive a little help sometimes. At Yorktown, American troops brought an end to the Revolutionary War, but not without help from French naval ships. The French prevented the British Navy from coming to General Cornwallis’ rescue, and he was forced to surrender to George Washington.

In the same way, the United States must continue to stand by Iraq in its hour of need. We cannot leave before Iraqis are ready to take control of their own security. Abandoning Iraq now would be “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Insanity indeed.

Friday, June 16, 2006

O Long May it Wave

by Idaho Senator Larry Craig

Few symbols in our world stir up more emotion than the American flag. For Americans, it embodies all that we stand for. For our enemies, it represents all they seek to destroy.

It has served as the banner of freedom from Iwo Jima to Normandy, from Korea to Baghdad, from Atlanta to Baltimore. For well over two hundred years, its “broad stripes and bright stars” have stood for the freedoms tens of thousands have died to preserve. We are reminded of that every time we drape our flag over the coffin of an American who has served our country.

Our enemies know what our flag means and the emotions it stirs in our souls. That is why, when terrorists in the Middle East vilify all things American, they burn our flag, and when our soldiers face the enemy, the enemy seeks to destroy our flag. And, it is why when American protesters want to ensure attention is paid to their pet cause, they desecrate a flag.

When Americans desecrate our flag in the name of free speech, they destroy the very symbol of the freedoms they seek to celebrate, inciting fellow Americans. While our Constitution protects speech, it does not protect every conceivable expression, and it was this capacity to incite that our anti-flag desecration laws were designed to protect us from.

Unfortunately, in 1989, the United States Supreme Court, in Texas v. Johnson, disagreed and struck down a Texas law banning desecration of the American flag on a 5-4 decision. Justice Rehnquist wrote in his dissenting opinion:

“The American flag, then, throughout more than 200 years of our history, has come to be the visible symbol embodying our Nation. It does not represent the views of any particular political party, and it does not represent any particular political philosophy. The flag is not simply another ‘idea’ or ‘point of view’ competing for recognition in the marketplace of ideas. Millions and millions of Americans regard it with an almost mystical reverence regardless of what sort of social, political, or philosophical beliefs they may have. I cannot agree that the First Amendment invalidates the Act of Congress and the laws of 48 of the 50 States, which make criminal the public burning of the flag.”

Justice Stevens, a liberal member of the Court, joined in the dissent, stating that our flag, “is a symbol of freedom, of equal opportunity, of religious tolerance, and of good will for other people who share our aspirations. . . The case has nothing to do with ‘disagreeable ideas.’ It involves disagreeable conduct that, in my opinion, diminishes the value of an important national asset.”

Because the Supreme Court narrowly struck down anti-flag desecration statues, both in 1989 and 1990, Congress is forced to amend the Constitution in order to protect our flag. The Senate is slated to once again debate the Flag Protection Amendment, which boasts the cosponsorship of 60 Senators, including myself. The House has already approved the amendment, as it has done six times before.

Our Constitution is designed, with good reason, to be difficult to amend. It is the foundation of our democracy, and the amendment process is the sentry that guards against those who would chip away our foundation. We cannot take this lightly – nor can we take lightly those who seek to incite Americans by desecrating the very symbol of all that America stands for.

As the Senate debates and votes on this amendment, we will not take it lightly. I truly wish we did not have to do this, but the courts have driven us to it. It is the only option to protect the symbol of America and the freedoms she stands for and has fought to protect the world over.

America is the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” Our flag reminds us of that every day, and it deserves the same protection as our inalienable rights.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

TRACY OPENS PR FIRM IN BOISE

(Boise) Mike Tracy, the long-time Communication Director for U.S. Senator Larry Craig, has opened the public relations firm, Tracy Communications, Inc.in Boise, Idaho located on the 5th Floor of the Hoff Building.

Tracy recently retired from a decade of service in the U.S. Senate as the Communication Director for the leader of Idaho’s Congressional Delegation, U.S. Senator Larry Craig. Craig made the following comments on the Senate Floor about Tracy’s service to Idaho.

“Mike has been an invaluable asset to me and the people of Idaho. He provided tremendous experience, enthusiasm, and good humor, and we will miss having him around every day. When you are around Mike, you cannot help but be boosted by this man’s passion,” Craig said.

Tracy Communications, Inc. will offer a full range of public relations services including strategic communications, crisis communications, public relations consulting, media training, issue management, and media relations.

Prior to his work in the Senate, Tracy served for eight years as the Information Director for the state’s largest general farm organization, the Idaho Farm Bureau. He also was the sales manager for KPVI-TV in Pocatello and worked in the public relations department at the University of Idaho’s Agricultural Communication Center.

Tracy is a 1977 graduate of the University of Idaho with a BA in Communications and a 1990 Graduate of Idaho State University with a MA in Rhetorical Studies. In 2003 Idaho State University awarded him with the Professional Achievement Award from the College of Arts and Sciences.

You may listen to (MP3, 1:26, 1.35 MB), watch (streaming), or read Craig's full remarks.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Finding a Family for Every Child

by Senators Larry Craig and Mary Landrieu

Over half a million abused and neglected children in the United States have taken temporary refuge in foster care, and almost 120,000 of these children are currently waiting for adoption. On average, children will remain in foster care for at least three years and, while in care, will move from home to home at least three times. They will be separated from friends, siblings and family. And nearly 19,000 of these children will age out of foster care this year without finding a loving, permanent family. Despite the success of hundreds of foster children, too many of these youth become homeless, incarcerated, or suffer from mental illness.

Last week, ABC’s Primetime and Nightline offered a glimpse behind these statistics, illustrating the hope and pain embodied by these numbers. Under the header “Calling All Angels” the programs featured foster youth, birth, foster and adoptive parents who told their stories and shared their experiences.

Foster youth expressed the uncertainty associated with being moved from home to home, the experience of living with different people – some moving between as many as 19 homes, and waiting to find their forever family. Youth who aged out of foster care spoke of the experience of leaving foster care to live on their own with no stable family to rely on. Foster parents, caseworkers, and other child welfare workers advocated their concern with the type of abuse and neglect these children have suffered, and a commitment to improve the outcome for them.

The Congressional Directors of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) and the 196 members of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption support efforts to increase awareness of these issues and find solutions. CCAI, which does not receive government funding, is dedicated to raising awareness among members of Congress about foster youth and orphans and the issues that they face.

A recent survey conducted by ABC and Time magazine found that only one in four Americans say they know about the foster care system. In order to effect true change and help foster children join safe, loving, permanent families, we must ensure that more people know about the state of the foster care system, the challenges faced by these children, and the ways in which we all can help.

We recognize that, in order to truly impact the lives of children in foster care and improve the system, we must not only focus on the state of the foster care system, and the need for systemic reform, but also emphasize the positive stories and contributions of those who are working to reform the foster care system and to make a lasting difference in the lives of children in foster care through adoption.

This week, CCAI is proud to welcome the fifth annual class of interns who come to work on Capitol Hill through the Congressional Foster Youth Internship Program. These former foster youth spend the summer interning in the offices of members of Congress. And, each year, CCAI and members of Congress partner to recognize Angels in Adoption™ – individuals from all 50 states working to enrich the lives of foster children and orphans. Last year, more than 190 members of Congress participated in this event, making it the year’s largest Congressional event pertaining to child welfare. Recipients included judges, foster and adoptive parents, social workers, legislators, philanthropists, doctors and leaders of local and state organizations. Despite their varying backgrounds, all share a dedication to bettering the lives of children in our nation’s foster care system and orphans around the world.

As the ABC specials illustrated, these vulnerable children deserve our best effort to improve their lives and circumstances and to provide a safe, loving, and permanent home.

Senator Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Senator Mary Landrieu, D-LA, are Co-Chairs of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption and Congressional Directors of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. For more information on CCAI, go to www.ccainstitute.org.

Friday, June 02, 2006

CRAIG HONORS IDAHO SOLDIER KILLED IN NORTH AFRICA

(Tunis, Tunisa) A soldier from Idaho was honored in North Africa Friday by U.S. Senator Larry Craig.

“George Campbell, Jr., was from my home state, and he proudly served his country and died while fighting against the Germans in World War II. I was pleased today to honor him on behalf of all Americans, but especially on behalf of his sister who called my office to let me know that no one in the family has ever been able to visit his grave,” Craig said.

“I intend to return to her a small flag that I flew briefly at his final resting place, as well as a picture of his headstone. I hope it will provide some degree of comfort to know that while her brother is gone, he is not forgotten. He is resting in a beautiful location.”

Campbell was a private, first class, in the 3rd U.S. Infantry Division and was awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart. He was wounded in Sicily and was transferred to Tunisia where he died September 7, 1943.

Three of his brothers also served in the military during World War II.

Of the four, two survived. John Henry Campbell was killed in action in 1945. He is buried in Luxemburg. There is a memorial plaque with the names of each of the “band of brothers” in Culdesac, Idaho.

Their sister, Ethel Hohnstein, lives in Lewiston, Idaho, and called Craig’s office when she learned that Senator Craig would be visiting the North African cemetery where her brother is buried. She said that none of her family has ever been able to visit that site and asked that he take time to remember her brother.

Craig is the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and has been leading a delegation of Senators on a weeklong tour of American battlefield cemeteries in Europe. The group visited cemeteries and attended Memorial Day events in Belgium, the Netherlands, and France, before headed south to the ancient city of Tunis.

Tunis was once known as the Roman city of Carthage and is the location of the North Africa American Cemetery.

Over 2,800 American servicemen and women are buried at the historic Tunisian location, including 240 soldiers whose remains were never identified. Most of them were inexperienced and had never seen battle until landing in North Africa. There many were led by U.S. General George Patton and faced off against battle-hardened German troops led by Field Marshall Erwin Rommel.

After some early losses, American and British forces finally beat Rommel’s troops in North Africa.

“We learned the other day that the experiences the Americans gained fighting the Germans here in Tunisia led to U.S. victories at places like Normandy,” Craig said. “George Campbell’s death, like so many others, while certainly tragic, was not in vain.”

For more information, see the American Battlefields Monuments Commission website at: http://www.abmc.gov

Fostering a Better Future

by Senator Larry Craig

This morning, I woke up to a little confusion. Could it be June already? Sure enough, May has drawn to a close, and with it, National Foster Care Month has wrapped up as well. But just because the month is over doesn’t mean the need for foster care families has gone.

There are more than 500,000 children in foster care in the United States, and the need for foster care providers is ongoing. Many people do not realize there are children right next door, down the street, or elsewhere in their own community in desperate need of temporary refuge.

Children in need of foster care come from homes that are in a state of upheaval. While it is true that some are eventually adopted by their foster parents or another loving family, the majority are simply in need of a stable, caring environment for a limited period of time. According to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System, during fiscal year 2004, 53 percent of the young people leaving the foster care system were reunified with their birth parents or primary caregivers.

For those unable to return home, sadly, some never are adopted, and “age out” of the system. When these young people age out of the foster care system without any strong ties to a caring adult, they are vulnerable to a number of difficulties. Barely more than half will finish high school, and as many as 1 in 5 will be homeless within four years of leaving foster care. The list goes on, and each item is an obstacle that makes it more difficult for that young man or woman to succeed in life.

In an effort to help, my office in Washington, D.C., participates in the Congressional Foster Youth Internship Program. This program gives young people who were once foster youths an opportunity, not only to work on Capitol Hill, but to gain valuable work experience in an office environment. Many have gone on to successful careers and some even become advocates for foster care and foster care reform.

You can help too. Perhaps you would consider serving as a mentor or advocate for one of these children in your community. And if you haven’t thought about becoming a foster care provider, I strongly encourage you to consider taking on that challenge. There are many resources available to help you decide how you can get involved and how to go about doing so.

A great place to start is the website for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare: www.healthandwelfare.idaho.gov. Follow the links to find information about foster care, including answers about frequently asked questions, phone numbers and contact information in each region of Idaho, and links to other websites on foster care. There is no shortage of organizations who stand ready to help you get involved.

If you love children and want to make a positive difference in your community, please consider foster care. The experience can be very rewarding. The need is great, but the impact you make will be a lasting one. As a result of your caring involvement, those you take in will benefit for years to come, and your community will be a better place for it.