Schiff meets with U.S. troops in Iraq

Glendale News Press
Aug 20 2004

Schiff meets with U.S. troops in Iraq
Congressman is in delegation touring war zones, meeting with
soldiers and political leaders

By Jackson Bell, News-Press

GLENDALE – Iraq is worse off than the last time Rep. Adam Schiff
(D-Glendale) visited it a year ago, but he believes the country’s new
prime minister will stabilize the struggling new democracy.

Schiff, traveling with four other members of Congress, left for Iraq
on Tuesday and met with Prime Minister Iyad Allawi to discuss the
leader’s vision for his country. Schiff also met with troops from
various California cities, including La Crescenta, Montrose and

“I want to make sure that the money we appropriated in Congress [for
troops] is getting to its intended destination, and see if there is
anything they need that they aren’t getting,” Schiff said Thursday
afternoon in a telephone interview from Jordan. “And to be here on
the ground to get a firsthand sense of what is happening here that is
not filtered through the Pentagon.”

Schiff strongly supports Allawi and believes the prime minister has a
“sober” understanding of what it will take to successfully lead a
democracy, especially when dealing with increased terrorism and
neighboring Iran.

But Schiff has seen changes for the worse in Iraq since he visited
last summer.

“Security continues to deteriorate since I was last here,” he said.
“The violence is more widespread and difficult to confront, and is
impeding the reconstruction.”

Schiff added that mortar was fired about 500 yards from a helicopter
he was riding in.

Regardless, he found “pretty good” morale among the troops he spoke
with, even in the wake of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal and a report
implicating about two dozen soldiers and civilian contractors.

“I think a great many of them feel betrayed, but it’s the soldier’s
ethic to move on to the next challenge,” Schiff said.

“What I found on this trip – which is similar to my last trip – is
that morale is highly dependent on [soldiers] individually knowing
when they are coming home,” he added. “Those who have a date can get
through just about anything. It’s harder without a date. That’s why
it’s so important to meet our commitment to the troops when telling
them when they are going home.”

Spirits were also lifted when Schiff handed out cards, posters and
banners made by local children from such organizations as the
Armenian National Committee’s Western Region, New Horizons Family
Center and the Boys & Girls Club of Burbank.

Schiff and the delegates will also travel to Afghanistan and
Pakistan, where he will visit more troops and meet with other foreign
leaders, including Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. But
because of security concerns, Schiff cannot say exactly where he is
going next or when he will leave.