HONOLULU - (KHNL) News 8's Kristine Uyeno spoke with Congresswoman Mazie Hirono on Monday July 7, 2008 about her recent trip to Iraq.
Kristine Uyeno - Hawaii U.S. Congresswoman Mazie Hirono is back from her trip to the Middle East. She visited with Hawaii based troops and got a firsthand look at the situation in Iraq. And the Congresswoman is here now to tell us more about her experience. Welcome back.
Maize Hirono - Thank you, Good morning.
Kristine uyeno - Good morning so why did you decide to go to Iraq?
Mazie Hirono - Well first of all, as you probably know my voice, sorry maybe it is all of the sand..
Kristine Uyeno - Or from the Fourth of July celebration?
Mazie Hirono - Yes, that's true..First of all most people know by now I have been against the war on Iraq since the very beginning and we've been given conflicting kinds of information. First of all you know, the President has said the war is not going well so we need to keep our troops there, and now the war is going better so we need to keep out troops there. I needed to go there to see for myself what kind of conditions are troops are operating in. and to hear first hand from General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker as to what is the latest information in Iraq.
Kristine Uyeno - So what kind of conditions did you see?
Mazie Hirono - You can't imagine how hot it is there for one thing, and they have sand storms, but of course it's a very dangerous it's a war zone. The good thing was that General Petraeus said that the violence has gone down. When we had our briefing with him, I said well that should mean that we should be able to be bringing our troops home safely, sooner.
Kristine Uyeno - Speaking of the troops how is there morale?
Mazie Hirono - There morale is good. I had a chance to meet with a number of our people from Hawaii. That was really a special thing for me. I asked them, "How are you doing?" and are you getting the kind of support, armor and all of that. There morale was high, so there is no question that are troops are doing what we've asked them to do. Now we need to make some tough and decisive political decisions. I believe that the right course is for us to have a strategy to bring our troops home safely from Iraq.
Kristine Uyeno - What else did you tell them? What was your message there?
Mazie Hirono - To thank them, mainly, I was very impressed with their professionalism, their commitment. Those of us in Congress have said that we support the troops, we are against the President's policies and how he is conducting this war. It's been a tragedy. But we support the troops, that was my message to them also to thank them for the job that they are doing. But I did mention to them that I would like to bring them home safely. I believe the troops that I talked to, you know they would not object to that.
Kristine Uyeno - When do you think they will be brought home safely?
Mazie Hirono - This is a strategy that we have to develop when talking with our generals, and that is something that has been lacking in this war. There has been no strategy, a coherent strategy I can discern. There are other members who feel the way I do and you know we very much wanting to bring our troops home. Because this war, the way the President has conducted this war has been very tragic.
Kristine Uyeno - And you are running for reelection again?
Mazie Hirono - Yes
Kristine Uyeno - What is going on with your campaign and what do you want to tell the voters?
Mazie Hirono - I want to tell them that it is a privilege to be serving in Congress and to be working on issues. Such as I have voted consistently for benchmarks in Iraq.For bringing our troops home as some kind of strategy and time frame. To be able to be in Congress, to vote in that way which I think the majority of the people in our country and certainly in my district believe, that that is an important step to take. So to be able to vote for those things. And last week just before we came back to our districts my Pre-K bill passed a major committee. That was a big thing, because the Education and Labor committee has almost over eight hundred bills referred to it and we have only made decisions within the committee on about twenty five of them and mine was one of them. The Pre-K act is really important to set the stage for education success in our youngest kids.
Kristine Uyeno - When are you headed back to Capitol Hill?
Mazie Hirono - I am heading back today.
Kristine Uyeno - Today, wow! Well thank you so much, extra mahalos for stopping by.
Mazie Hirono - I want to wish everybody, you know I hope they had a really good Fourth of July, and to be thankful for the freedoms that we have in our country and to not take anything for granted