Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Cheney, Saying The Obvious, Admits Underestimating Iraqi Insurgency. But Then Came Spin, Spin, Spin!

The conservative spin after Vice President Dick Cheney's June 19 comments at the National Press Club was that he was being honest with the American people, telling us that he wrongly underestimated the strength of the Iraqi insurgency.

But take a closer look at what Cheney said, and you see that this one obvious nod to reality was part of a larger set of comments that can only be described as spin, spin and more spin.


MODERATOR: Do you think that you underestimated the insurgency’s strength?

CHENEY: I think so. I guess if I look back on it now, I don’t think anybody anticipated the level of violence that we have encountered.

This small concession was lauded by conservative pundit Tony Blankley, who said on that night's edition of MSNBC's Hardball:

BLANKLEY: "It‘s obvious, there‘s no other statement one could make at it point, given the characterizations that they made in 2002 and early 2003. ... So he made the concession to reality, which is what ... adults do."

Cheney's small nod to reality followed a similar epiphany in March from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who decided it was time to stop predicting when U.S. forces would be out of Iraq, after making several pre-war predictions that in hindsight looked ridiculous, such as in early 2003, when he said: "It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."


Hardball guest host Norah O'Donnell failed to see through Cheney's spin: Was it true that no one "anticipated the level of violence that we have encountered"? Hardball viewers never found out, because O'Donnell never bothered to ask.

The Associated Press' coverage, widely carried in newspapers nationwide, also used the Cheney spin without fact-checking it.

The Washington Post, however, reported that many respected people anticipated the possibility of a violent resistance.

For example, specialist at the Army War College predicted: "The possibility of the United States winning the war and losing the peace is real and serious. ... Successful occupation will not occur unless the special circumstances of this unusual country" are heeded, they warned.

Also, 70 national security experts and Middle East scholars at the National Defense University issued a report concluding that occupying Iraq "will be the most daunting and complex task the U.S. and the international community will have undertaken since the end of World War II."

Did the administration take these warnings to heart? Of course not. Army Col. Paul Hughes, sent a copy of the National Defense University report to the office of Douglas J. Feith, then the undersecretary of defense for policy, but "never heard back from him or anyone else," Hughes told the Post.


Bloomberg News reported: "Asked if he still believed the insurgency was in its final throes, as he said in a CNN interview on May 31, 2005, Cheney said, 'I do.'' He cited election of an interim government, a constitutional referendum and parliamentary elections in December that established a unity government as evidence the insurgency is being pushed to the margins. (Click here for a full transcript of the response.)

But, as the website News Hounds notes: Cheney's original remarks were not referring to elections, a unity government, or a Constitution.

"I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time," Cheney said then. "The level of activity that we see today from a military standpoint, I think, will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency."

Unfortunately, the AP story didn't fact-check this Cheney spin, either, so it wound up in newspapers nationwide -- uncontested. The cable chatfests also skipped over this inconsistency.


Anonymous The_Casual_Observer said...

Getting any plain truth out of cheney is as impossible as getting some country club miser to give you $500 out of his wallet. Shit, cheney never even admitted that any of the bullshit stories from "curveball" were bogus. And as for the press, don't ever count on them to call cheney out on any of the lies, they are shit scared of being audited or worse as a result.

4:11 PM  
Anonymous grasswire said...

good catch, thanks

4:12 PM  
Anonymous Up2Late said...

It's wrong to just say the "AP" did this, but the AP did lose my trust years ago. Some of the Newspapers and reporters that are members of the AP still good, but some of the AP members are just Crap flingers.

If I see a "too good to be true" story by AP, or a story with a clear or possible bias, it's always good to Google the story or the reporter or both.

Another thing to watch out about the AP is, they allow edited reprinting of a reporters story. Editing that often removes qualifying statements and biases the edited story. The easiest way to find these is to look for the "by line," if it's missing or abbreviated, I usually Google the headline to find the original. If that doesn't work, Google one of the person quoted or a quote in the article.

I wish they would make these edited stories illegal.

4:12 PM  
Anonymous bullimiami said...

the AP is in on it. There is a pattern of deception and half truth.

4:12 PM  
Anonymous Scott said...

The most ridiculous thing was when Russert later asked Rumsfeld if Cheney was wrong about "last throes." Rumsfeld said no, and told him to look up "throes," they can be very violent. Sadly, Russert was not savvy enough to point out that they weren't arguing about the word "throes" but rather the word "last".

10:05 AM  

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