GOP senator blames Democrats for troop deaths

South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint says al-Qaida knows about the "wimps" in Congress.

Published May 31, 2007 3:48PM (EDT)

May 2007 is winding up as the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq in nearly three years. Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno today attributed the spike in U.S. deaths to a "combination" of a resurging insurgency and the changing tactics of the president's "surge."

"I think it has to do a lot with the fact that we are going into places we have not been before," Odierno explained. "And what we're finding is [that] the insurgents and extremists use IEDs as their own little security and support zones. And they use large buried IEDs in areas we have not been before. And some of them have been somewhat effective, which has raised our death toll."

Sounds like a reasonable explanation to us, but Sen. Jim DeMint has a different one. In a luncheon speech earlier this week, the South Carolina Republican said "a lot of the casualties can be laid at the feet of all the talk in Congress about how we've got to get out, we've got to cut and run." Asked to clarify afterward, DeMint said he was blaming "the Democratic Party and those who basically declared defeat like Harry Reid."

DeMint said that "al-Qaida knows that we've got a lot of wimps in Congress." And as badly as things have gone in Iraq, he said, "it would have been worse if we hadn't gone in."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Iraq War Jim Demint R-s.c.