Did Cheney Know Of Casey's Redeployment Plan When He Said Democrats' Redeployment Plan Was "Worst Possible Thing?"
Vice President Dick Cheney, in a Thursday interview, told CNN's John King that the Democrats' plans for troop redeployment were "the worst possible thing we could do."
"No matter how you carve it -- you can call it anything you want -- but basically, it is packing it in, going home, persuading and convincing and validating the theory that the Americans don't have the stomach for this fight," Cheney said.
At about the same time, Senate Republicans -- following the administration's wishes -- led an effort to kill a proposal by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jack Reed (D-RI) that would have required a redeployment to begin by the end of the year but not set a timetable for a complete withdrawal. (Note: A second proposal calling for a near-complete withdrawal by next year, from Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) was overwhelmingly defeated.)
A clear statement by the Bush Administration, right?
But, as we now know, the top American commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, has also drafted a plan to reduce U.S. troops in Iraq, with the first cuts perhaps coming by September, and much deeper cuts coming in 2007.
Now, of course, the administration may reject the plan, but assuming it doesn't, it's fair to say that what Casey is reportedly planning and what Levin and Reed proposed is conceptually similar. Specific details may vary -- no two proposals are going to be identical -- but the idea is that the U.S. begin withdrawing troops gradually, in keeping with Bush's frequent statements that as the Iraqi troops "step up," the U.S.-led coalition will "step down."
Something tells me that the Republicans who denounced Democrats aren't going to turn around and denounce Casey.
Here's a question I'd like to see answered: Did Cheney know about Casey's gameplan when he denounced Levin and Reed's similar proposal?
It's doubtful that the multitudes of Republicans who denounced the Democrats' proposal -- some blasting it as a "cut and run" policy -- were aware of Casey's classified briefing.
However, it's not nearly as hard to believe one well-placed Republican -- Cheney -- was aware of Casey's briefing when he denounced the Democrats.
On Fox News Sunday, Levin told host Chris Wallace that "General Casey at the Pentagon a few days ago said he believes there will be fairly substantial troop reductions this year." The New York Times reported on Saturday that Casey "met this week" with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
In other words, Rumsfeld and Pace were aware of Casey's briefing days before Cheney and various Congressional Republicans made their denouncements.
Should we assume that Cheney -- by various accounts a hands-on player since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and noted to be one of the architects of the Iraq War -- was not in the loop about Casey's briefing to Rumsfeld and Pace? It's extremely far-fetched.
The only other excuse is extreme naivete -- the assumption that Casey's plan would not be known by the public for several months, or after the Republicans had successfully linked the idea of "Democrats = white flag" in the minds of voters.
If true, it would be the latest example of Cheney putting partisan politics above Iraq War policy.
Last week, Cheney either lied or showed unconscionable ignorance when he suggested no one "anticipated the level of violence" from an Iraqi insurgency. And he played Americans for fools when he redefined his infamous "last throes" comment of a year ago.
Someone who so brazenly plays with the facts could certainly be capable of denouncing the Democrats' plan, while simultaneously being aware of Casey's similar plan, right?