Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Snow: Everyone's for the Surge!

From Tony Snow's press briefing Monday at the White House:

Q: I'm asking you to respond to a growing feeling that there's a question, at least, being raised that I think people want a very straight answer to: Either the administration is engaged in intensifying discussions about reducing the number of troops, or it's not.

MR. SNOW: There is no intensifying discussion about reducing troops. What there is, is a -- again, you are talking about a surge that literally just got completed, in terms of troop complements, two weeks ago. And so the idea –

Q: And all you -- asked Republicans to wait to give that a chance. And there's an ever-increasing number of Republicans who aren't waiting.

MR. SNOW: I'm not sure that's an accurate rendition of what they're saying. Again, if you take a look at the comments, there is anxiety about the political atmosphere, which has been reflected in your questioning, but on the other hand, there is also a recognition that you've got to succeed in Iraq. And I don't think it's inconsistent -- again, the President has been talking about getting to different configurations, exactly what Senator Lugar said. He wants to do it as quickly as possible. That's one of the reasons why you have the surge.

The surge is not an open-ended commitment that says -- it's not an occupation, it's a surge. It's designed to create space so that we can achieve as swiftly as possible some of those basic necessities for the Iraqi people to be able to step up and stand in the lead. And then at that point, the Americans step back into less visible, more support positions, which was recommended by Baker-Hamilton. As a matter of fact, the surge is part of Baker-Hamilton, for heaven's sake.

For heaven's sake, the surge is part of the report of the Iraq Study Group led by former Secretary of State James Baker and former Representative Lee Hamilton? Well, that's easy to factcheck. Everyone, take out your copies of the Baker-Hamilton report released last December. Skip past the first page--where the Baker-Hamilton group says, "The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating"--and go to page 38. Here, the bipartisan commission observes, "Sustained increases in U.S. troop levels would not solve the fundamental cause of violence in Iraq, which is the absence of national reconciliation." Okay, the group was naysaying a "sustained" boost in U.S. troops. What about a temporary increase? Flip ahead to page 73--skimming by the point where the group notes, "There is no action the American military can take that, by itself, can bring about success in Iraq"--to the point in the recommendations section where the commission discusses a surge. Baker, Hamilton, and their colleagues write,

Adding more American troops could conceivably worsen those aspects of the security problem that are fed by the view that the U.S. presence is intended to be a long-term "occupation." We could, however, support a short-term redeployment or surge of American combat forces to stabilize Baghdad, or to speed up the training and equipping mission, if the U.S. commander in Iraq determines that such steps would be effective.

That's hardly an endorsement of the surge. In fact, the detailed plan the Baker-Hamilton group proposes does not include the surge. But at the time their report was released, Baker and Hamilton knew that Bush was considering a surge. They and their comrades decided to be polite and not oppose Bush's surge outright. But for Snow to suggest that the surge is part of the Baker-Hamilton plan is disingenuous.

Moments later in the press briefing, Snow did it again.

Q: What does the President say to Republicans like Senator Lugar, who say we can't wait [to compose a Plan B for Iraq]? What is his response to that?

MR. SNOW: Again, I'm just not sure Senator Lugar is saying we can't wait. What he's saying is, he's concerned about the political atmosphere in this country, and he's trying to make sure that we don't rip ourselves apart politically short of achieving the goals. If you look at what Senator Lugar has said about the surge so far, he says it's working. His comments indicate that he thinks it's working.

Did Senator Dick Lugar, the senior Republican on the foreign relations committee, really say the surge is "working" during his recent speech, in which he declared, "our course in Iraq has lost contact with our vital national security interests in the Middle East and beyond"? You don't have to take Snow's word for it. Here's how Lugar put it:

The prospects that the current "surge" strategy will succeed in the way originally envisioned by the President are very limited within the short period framed by our own domestic political debate....

In my judgment, the current surge strategy is not an effective means of protecting [U.S.] interests. Its prospects for success are too dependent on the actions of others who do not share our agenda. It relies on military power to achieve goals that it cannot achieve. It distances allies that we will need for any regional diplomatic effort. Its failure, without a careful transition to a back-up policy would intensify our loss of credibility. It uses tremendous amounts of resources that cannot be employed in other ways to secure our objectives. And it lacks domestic support that is necessary to sustain a policy of this type.

Yes, more disingenuousness from the White House.

Before Snow took over as White House press secretary, I sent him a note that simply said, "Don't do it." I'd worked with Snow at Fox News Channel and had found him to be a reasonably fair and convivial host. He had been fun and easy to work with. And I subsequently explained to him--after he took his job--that I did not believe he (or perhaps anyone) could do this job without trampling the truth. Yesterday was just one of many examples of truth-bending that borders on lying.

Posted by David Corn at July 10, 2007 10:48 AM


capt said...

Mr. David Corn,

"Before Snow took over as White House press secretary, I sent him a note that simply said, "Don't do it." "

Seems like you think more of Tony than he thinks of himself. Sadly he sounds like Baghdad Bob and is branded with the nickname " Flaming Mc Snowjob"


capt said...

New Thread

WTF said...

I still want those WH press briefers to start to wear a clown suit and orange hair at least we could get a laugh, otherwise it is just another shill, end of story. Not worth wasting one minute on so I just mute him and the his bitch bush.