Dave Reichert was King County sheriff in 2003 when Congress voted to authorize President George Bush to use military force in Iraq.
But Reichert, the Eighth District congressional representative since 2005, said last week in a speech that given the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction available at the time, he knows what he would have done.
“I’ll be honest with everybody in this room,” Reichert told the Rotary Club of Auburn. “If I was there, I would have voted yes. Some people won’t admit that.”
The two-term Republican, who is running for re-election, explained his position on other issues. His district includes part of Renton.
He supports making congressional earmarks more transparent, not doing away with them, despite recent abuses of the privilege, he said.
“When you stop one person for exceeding the 60 mph speed limit, you don’t take away everybody’s driver’s license. What we need is transparency in the earmark system,” Reichert said.
Reichert decried the bitter partisanship in Washington, D.C., that blocks meaningful progress on issues crucial to the nation. As an example, he cited the recent lack of Democratic support to his Alpine Lakes Wilderness Additions and Wild Pratt River Act, which would have designated more than 22,000 acres of wilderness next to the existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area and protect 10 miles of the Pratt as a wild river.
“I dropped the bill four months ago when I couldn’t find a Democrat to co-sponsor that bill. It comes down to politics,” Reichert said, adding that partisanship is not restricted to one side of the political aisle.
Reichert said it is crucial that the nation begin to wean itself from its dependence on Middle Eastern oil and that it needs to invest in research to ferret out the best energy alternatives.
“What is going to be the final technology that powers our transportation and our economy? I don’t think we really know right now, although scientists have some ideas,” Reichert said. “I was talking to a guy who has a business in the Redmond area who has some ideas about how to use our coal reserves, because we have the largest coal reserves in the world here in the United States in Montana and Alaska. We have enough coal to probably power the United States for the next 1,000 years.”
As for Iraq, Reichert said his job as a member of Congress is to ask questions on behalf of his constituents. And since the United States is there, the most important question is how to get out and bring home the troops, including his own nephew and sister.
Reichert said Democrats and war opponents might criticize the war and how the country got into it, but they have yet to come up with a plan for extricating the United States from Iraq without that country falling into chaos, bloodshed and anarchy.
“Are we going to go back in when people start to be murdered?” Reichert asked. “You can’t go back in; once you’re gone, you’re gone. One other option is we could stand and watch that happen. No, we are not going to stand and watch. So your last option is to turn your back. Is the United States of America going to turn its back on Iraq? No.”
Yes, Reichert said, the United States should not have gone in there in the first place, but talking that way doesn’t solve the problem. He said the recent troop surge has worked and such progress should be allowed to continue. He said Iraq has enough oil to reconstruct itself. He said the United States should be helping the Iraqi people.