Dodd takes issue with criticism by Gates


U.S. Senator Christopher Dodd on Sunday defended the right of Congress to oppose a troop buildup in Iraq and called Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ criticism of lawmakers dangerous and irresponsible.

Speaking on CNN’s “Late Edition”, Dodd, D-Conn., blasted Gates for saying that a resolution opposing an escalation of forces would embolden the nation’s enemies and advisories.

The Democratic-controlled Senate plans to begin debate this week on a nonbinding resolution declaring that Bush’s proposal to send 21,500 more troops to Baghdad and Anbar province is “not in the national interest.”

“I voted to confirm (Gates),” Dodd said. “But that’s a very dangerous thing to be suggesting that the United States Congress has no business suggesting an alternative here, or recommending a course of action different from the president of the United States. For us not to do that would be the height of irresponsibility if that was the feeling in Congress.”

Dodd, one of several Democrats seeking the party’s 2008 nomination for president, said he believes that the problems in Iraq will not be solved by the military.

“If you’re looking for stability there, I think there’s a possibility that you can get that,” Dodd said. “But you’re going to have to engage diplomatically, the Syrians, probably the Iranians as well.”

Dodd said he was wrong to have voted to authorize President Bush to use force in Iraq, and wishes he could have that vote back.

“I regret that vote deeply,” Dodd said. “But I’m not going to compound it by making more mistakes as we go down the road here, which is what the president’s asking to do. And Congress has to meet its obligation. Those who seek to lead better have some clear ideas on how to deal with the situation. I want to see us put an end to this before it gets down the road much further.”