Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Petraeus, Round 2

On Monday, General David Petraeus presented his long-awaited, eagerly-anticipated, much-ballyhooed progress report to Congress during a hearing conducted by the House armed services committee and the foreign affairs committees. Given the buildup, the hearing was mostly a dud. Petraeus was hardly a galvanizing force, no Douglas MacArthur, and the Democrats, while expressing skepticism about his we're-on-the-right-course pitch, didn't land too many blows. (ADD declared: I could only bring myself to watch about four hours of the hearing.) The event showed the limitations of congressional hearing. Each legislator had but five minutes to question Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Cocker. Considering the genetic predisposition of elected officials to bloviate, five minutes is not enough time for most of them to clear their throats, let alone craft a significant line of inquiry. On Tuesday, Petraeus faces senators. Though they also can run on a bit (paging Senator Biden), perhaps the Senate Dems will be able to put forward a more focused grilling of the man who in 2004 was claiming "tangible progress" in Iraq.

Here are some points raised during Petraeus and Crocker's first appearance that provide fodder for Democrats in the Senate.

* Why did neither of them in their prepared statements explicitly say that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is up to the task in Iraq? Crocker merely saluted Maliki's "patriotism." A lot is riding on Maliki, and as I've noted in past days, he presides over a government riddled with corruption. The senators should ask Petraeus and Crocker if Maliki's administration is too crooked or inept to do what must be done.

* In his opening statement, Petraeus said, "The fundamental source of the conflict in Iraq is competition among ethnic and sectarian communities for power and resources." Wait a moment. How does this jibe with what the commander in chief has been saying? In an August 22 speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, George W. Bush provided this explanation of the Iraq war:

If we were to abandon the Iraqi people, the terrorists would be emboldened, and use their victory to gain new recruits. As we saw on September the 11th, a terrorist safe haven on the other side of the world can bring death and destruction to the streets of our own cities. Unlike in Vietnam, if we withdraw before the job is done, this enemy will follow us home. And that is why, for the security of the] United States of America, we must defeat them overseas so we do not face them in the United States of America.

Fight the bastards there so we don't have to fight them in Cincinnati. But Petraeus is saying that the major issue in Iraq is not us-versus-the-terrorists but Iraqi-factions-versus-Iraqi factions. In his opening remarks, he only briefly discussed al Qaeda in Iraq, noting it is now "off balance." But Petraeus was confirming what many critics of the war have said: the lead mission is not rounding up anti-American terrorists but intervening in a sectarian conflict. A senator ought to ask Petraeus if he believes his main mission is to beat 'em there so they leave us alone here.

* In talking up the Iraqi security forces, Petraeus said, "Currently, there are 445,000 individuals on the payrolls of Iraq's Interior and Defense Ministries. Based on recent decisions by Prime Minister Maliki, the number of Iraq's security forces will grow further by the end of this year, possibly by as much as 40,000." Petraeus failed to mention that the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq--headed by retired General James Jones-- recently reported that the Ministry of Interior is "dysfunctional and sectarian...rife with political and sectarian intrigues and is struggling to be even partially effective as a government institution." The commission noted that "sectarianism and corruption are pervasive in the MOI and cripple the ministry's ability to accomplish its mission to provide internal security for Iraqi citizens."

If that's the case, how can Petraeus in good conscious cite the number of MOI security forces as a positive factor? Maybe it would be best if this corrupt ministry had fewer troops.

* Petraeus did mention that he could foresee some troop withdrawals at the end of the year. He said that by next summer, U.S. troop levels could be back to pre-surge levels. But that prompts an obvious question. If the so-called surge takes 18 months to create a situation in which the U.S. troops presence falls to what it was at the start of the surge, is that real success?

Petraeus has a tough task: to sell a war his boss has bungled from the start (and from even before that). Democrats need not be put off by all the medals on his chest. This war is still Bush's endeavor. He's the guy who has to answer for it--and to explain it.

Posted by David Corn at September 11, 2007 12:36 AM


capt said...

Mr. David Corn,

I didn't watch the dog and pony show either, bad for the blood pressure.

We should keep the focus on the original issue - the complete failure to achieve even one of the original goals.

Bush has been very effective in changing the subject. Instead of addressing the failure of Bush we are discussing the merits of escalation.

The democrats are letting this happen or are being lead by the nose like so many GOP lemmings.

Where is the opposition party?



capt said...

'Swear Him In' Provokes Expulsion

“Swear him in.” That’s all I said in the unusual silence this afternoon as first aid was being administered to Gen. David Petraeus’s microphone at the hearing before the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees.

It had dawned on me that when House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Missouri, invited Gen. Petraeus to make his presentation, Skelton forgot to ask him to take the customary oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. I had no idea that would be enough to get me thrown out of the hearing.

I had a flashback to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in early 2006, when Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, reminded chairman Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, that Specter had forgotten to swear in the witness, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; and how Specter insisted that that would not be necessary.

Now that may, or may not, be an invidious comparison. But Petraeus and Gonzales work for the same boss, who has a rather unusual relationship with the truth. How many of his senior staff could readily be convicted, as was the hapless-and-now-commuted Scooter Libby, of perjury?

So I didn’t think twice about it. I really thought that Skelton perhaps forgot, and that the 10-minute interlude of silence while they fixed the microphone was a good chance to raise this seemingly innocent question.

The more so since the ranking Republican representatives had been protesting too much. In the obverse of “killing the messenger,” they had been canonizing the messenger with protective fire.


*****end of clip*****

This is not America.


capt said...

Bush policy to bequeath Iraq to successor


The plans also would allow Bush to live up to his pledge to the defining mission of his presidency, and perhaps to improve his chances for a decent legacy. He can say he left office pursuing a strategy that was having at least some success in suppressing violence, a claim that some historians may view sympathetically.

"Bush has found his exit strategy," said Kenneth M. Pollack, a former government Mideast specialist now at the Brookings Institution. As Petraeus met with lawmakers and unveiled chart upon chart showing declining troop levels, the U.S. commander seemed to have opened a new discussion about how the United States would wind up its commitment to Iraq. Yet viewed more closely, his presentation, and that of U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, were better suited to the defense of an earlier strategy: "stay the course."


*****end of clip*****

This whole mess of lies is doing EXACTLY what it is intended - the SURGE is allowing Bunnypants to pretend Iraq is not HIS failure - it is the next guys (or gals) and the Democrats have not only allowed it they have endorsed it by that little $124,000,000,000 deposit on the Bush legacy.


Hajji said...

I don't think "swearing an oath" to "Tell the TRUTH, WHOLE TRUTH, and NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH" would inspire these weasels to do anything remotely resembling the common sense definition.


capt said...


That is what makes it all so silly. These slugs lie under oath without any worry - they would be pardoned or commuted.



capt said...

Matthews called "civil war" "the lingo of the anti-war movement," but his own network calls it that, too

On the September 10 edition of MSNBC Live , MSNBC host Chris Matthews -- during a break in the congressional testimony of Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the Multi-National Force-Iraq, and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker -- said that Petraeus "avoided the word 'civil war,' " adding: "I think 'civil war' has become the lingo of the anti-war movement." But referring to the conflict in Iraq as a "civil war" is the stated policy of MSNBC and NBC News. Moreover, the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), released on February 2, said that while the phrase "does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, al-Qa'ida and Sunni insurgent attacks on Coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence," it "accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilization, and population displacements."

On the November 27, 2006, broadcast of NBC's Today , co-host Matt Lauer announced that NBC News would begin referring to the war in Iraq as a "civil war":


*****end of clip*****

Good old tweety - always carrying water for the neocons. Why do progressives watch the slug. If people used the off button we could be done with his sycophancy and man crush on Bush and the other “strong men.”


capt said...

New Orleans Sex Worker to Reveal Four-Month Relationship With Sen. Vitter


A former New Orleans prostitute who says she had an affair with Sen. David Vitter has passed a lie-detector test and will provide details of the four-month relationship at a press conference Tuesday, according to Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt.

Wendy Cortez, whose real name is Wendy Ellis, says she had a sexual relationship with Vitter, R-La., in 1999, when he was a state legislator.

Copies of the results of Cortez's polygraph test, which she took at Flynt's request, will be provided to reporters at the news conference at Flynt's office in Beverly Hills, Calif., Hustler said in a news release Monday.

Vitter spokesman Joel Digrado wouldn't comment on the Flynt news conference. In an e-mail, Digrado said, "Sen. Vitter and his wife have addressed all of this very directly. The senator is focused on important Louisiana priorities like the water resources bill and the Iraq debate."

...Vitter, a first-term senator elected in 2004, has denied having relationships with New Orleans prostitutes. In a call-in radio show during the Senate campaign, he dismissed as "absolutely and completely untrue" that he had a relationship with a Wendy Cortez.


*****end of clip*****

I think Vitter has tried to Hustle us so it is only right that Larry outs Vitter for his lies.


capt said...

The Politics of Petraeus

The report by the US military's top man in Iraq has a little bit for everyone. Still, Petraeus' highly political case will change very little. It is unlikely he can convince the Democrats to stay the course in Iraq, and support for Bush's Iraq policies will likely continue even amongst wavering Republicans.

On Monday night, after a very long day of assessing what the report from General David Petraeus to Congress might say, I had a decision to make. I could watch the keenly awaited Congressional testimony of our senior American commander in Iraq, or take time off to listen to a new Bob Dylan CD I had brought back from America.

With little hesitation I opted for Dylan.

For the Petraeus Report has nothing to do with Middle Eastern realities; it has everything to do with American politics. For this is a report that will be seen as all things to all people -- and it will change very little.

The White House

For the White House, current poll numbers on Iraq make for grim reading. The new Associated Press-Ipsos poll, published this past Sunday, finds that by 59 to 34 percent, those surveyed think the Iraq war will be judged a historical mistake. This large, two-to-one ratio holds across the board; 58 to 36 percent think the surge is a flop. These numbers have barely moved in the past year. It is clear that the majority of Americans have made their minds up about the war, and think it is a catastrophe. Like a failed gambler coming to the end of his stake, the president is frantically looking around for someone to loan him some cash, or in this case public trust, so he can continue his spree. In desperation, the president has turned to General Petraeus.


*****end of clip*****

We should not avoid the consideration that Bush as CIC can order Petraeus to say and do almost anything. The fact is I hear Bunnypants speaking but see Petraeus's mouth moving.


Carey said...

Mr. Corn,

Petraeus is so arrogantly disingenuous he insults our collective intelligence. He can't be as stupid as he makes himself out to be in pretending his answers aren't in full contradiction of the known facts.

What I can't understand is how is everyone keeping their eyes open during this excruciatingly redundant laugh of a report to Congress.


The Ray McGovern tidbit is incisive. And yes, where the f**k is the opposition party?

I have been monitoring the hearings, and to save time I'll double post this:

Petraeus has a way of talking over the questioner, be it a Representative or Senator. He speaks all the way through what the person is saying.

This is a juvenile tactic of domination. Apparently Petraeus thinks it appropriate for a military officer to behave this way in front of a Congressman. Me thinks not. Methinks it's a total violation of protocol and, more importantly, rank of power. Military people are not above Congress people. Furthermore, Petraeus is testifying and reporting before Congress.

Petraeus postively astounds me. He makes no bones about his insincerity. He just blurts it all out without a care. Where is this respected military general so full of integrity I've been hearing of?

Carey said...

the SURGE is allowing Bunnypants to pretend Iraq is not HIS failure

It is the escape they have planned that has raised my blood pressure dangerously high. It will all be on us Dems. It's gonna be in our ball park soon!


Carey said...

And the fact that Bush/Petraeus just keep making it so much worse in their attempt to avoid blame.

We have to figure out how to clean it all up, if it can be at all.

David B. Benson said...

An MSU performance!

MSU: Making Stuff Up

capt said...

New Thread