Shelby says U.S. can#039;t #8216;cut and run#039; in Iraq during annual county visit

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 14, 2006

An overflow crowd was on hand in council chambers at Greenville City Hall on Wednesday to hear U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (Rep. – Ala.) during an hour-long public meeting.

Shelby said it was his 20th straight year in the county conducting the meetings, which take him to all 67 counties in Alabama.

During the meeting, the senator discussed his upcoming legislative agenda with the crowd and also took questions from the audience.

Shelby expressed his hope Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito will be confirmed by the Senate as new Supreme Court appointees.

&#8220This may be the most important thing President Bush does in his tenure in office. We need someone strong, qualified and conservative as these men are.”

He also addressed the continuing war in Iraq.

&#8220No one wants to see more of our soldiers killed. And I believe we have made some mistakes along the way…we underestimated the strength of these insurgents,” Shelby said.

&#8220However, I believe we cannot ‘cut and run.' That would send the worst possible message we could send to the insurgents. We've got to define a victory or success in some way over there.”

Shelby said if U.S. forces are driven out of the Middle East, &#8220we will pay dearly for it.”

Shelby also stated his opposition to President Bush's desire to grant amnesty to some of the 12 million illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S.

&#8220I don't think we should reward these people if they have come to our country illegally…our immigration system is broken, and it needs fixing.”

The senator also touched on the issue of Medicare and Medicaid, saying they are continuing to grow &#8220very fast.”

&#8220We are living longer and we want better health…we have to figure out a way to pay for it. It will be a big challenge in the years to come.”

One hot-button issue addressed by Shelby was the controversy over the recent wiretapping of numerous individuals with suspected terrorist ties, and just how far the president's executive power to approve such actions actually extends.

&#8220A lot of this is highly classified…but I do know the president was told he had this power after 9/11 and during a war…I don't think he would be interested in our private matters. But I do think he should do everything he can to protect the American people.”

The senator stressed no terrorist attacks had taken place in the U.S. since 9/11, and &#8220maybe that is due to some of these intercepts.”

&#8220Of course, we have our individual rights, but my hope is sleeper cells don't develop because we don't want to wire tap someone. Our nation's safety is most important,” Shelby said.

Among other topics, Shelby also addressed disabled veteran issues, the tremendous federal deficit and projected shortfalls in the Social Security system in the future.