In case you wanted to fact check Petraeus’s report to Bush, compare it to his testimony before Congress, or do a comparison between what Petraeus tells Bush and what the White House writes, forget about it:
A senior military officer said there will be no written presentation to the president on security and stability in Iraq. “There is no report. It is an assessment provided by them by testimony,” the officer said.
The only hard copy will be Gen. Petraeus’ opening statement to Congress, scheduled for Monday, along with any charts he will use in explaining the results of the troop surge in Baghdad over the past several months.
Meanwhile, at the Weekly Standard, Michael Goldfarb writes:
The Dems are already in full retreat over the war in Iraq, having failed completely to peel off enough Republicans to pass a date-certain for withdrawal and having already voted to fund the war. As news of progress mounted this summer, there were numerous attempts to puncture Petraeus’s credibility–but if the Democratic leadership has now decided they must separate the man from the report, then they clearly view those efforts as a failure.
But that still leaves one question unanswered: Do the Democrats believe that Petraeus will be saying whatever the administration wants him to say–that he will essentially be lying to the U.S. Congress? If that’s what they believe, why dance around it? They ought to just come out and call the general a liar–or another of the countless victims of the BushCheney war machine.
Got it? The guy who spent hundreds of hours crawling up Scott Beauchamp’s ass to find out whether or not he actually saw someone run over a dog in a Bradley thinks it is silly for you to be able to fact check the General leading our war efforts in Iraq.
Oh, and for the record, here is my prediction for how the Congressional testimony will go:
1.) Petraeus will enter the room, and Joe Lieberman and several other moderate Democrats will faint when they see him in Class A’s with lots of ribbons and medals.
2.) Petraeus will offer a mixed report, citing temporary tactical advantage and listing points of progress. Lots of cheese charts with arrows pointing in the right direction, but little to no sourcing, will be on display.
3.) Lieberman, freshly revived from his initial fainting, hears Petraeus utter the words “our brave men and women in uniform,” and promptly passes out again.
4.) Petraeus mentions, in passing, that we are facing difficulties. Democrats fail to press him. The difficulties are not mentioned specifically, but in vague generalities.
5.) Petraeus states the situation is too tenuous to drawdown troops before fall of 2008.
6.) Lieberman is revived yet again, only to hear the phrase “Al Qaeda in Iraq,” and promptly falls to the ground in shock and horror. Ron Paul gives him the finger.
7.) Afterwards, numerous Blue Dog Democrats state to the media that the General was impressive, and has assured them that we are making progress, and, as such, they are reluctant to do anything.
8.) Republicans, when speaking to the press, state that this is clear proof we are winning, and evidence that we do not need to cut and run like some of the Democrats want.
9.) Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and John Warner all state how impressed they are, but note that they have some unspecfied concerns and that we need to proceed cautiously.
10.) Some cranky Democrat notes that there was no real information presented, and wants to have some hard data to compare to the numerous negative reports we have received from independent organizations. Michelle Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, NRO, and the Weekly Standard promptly call him a traitor. Malkin breaks out a cheerleader outfit. Michael O’Hanlon goes on Hardball and claims the GAO is the most corrupt organization in Washington.
11.) The rest of the media cover the story until about 7:45 EST, at which point it is learned that Lindsey Lohan may have smoked pot while in rehab. The Petraeus story dies.
12.) Seven more members of the military die.
We will see how it actually turns out.
*** Update ***
Apparently I am “lost in space” because I am a little chagrined that we have no way to document what Petraeus is telling the White House. I am well aware that the WH is actually writing the report- I want to know what Petraeus tells the WH, what the WH writes in their report, and what Petraeus tells Congress. You know- that whole accuracy thing, because never in the history of the Bush administration have they been told one thing privately and said something completely different publicly. Apparently to our authoritarian ‘libertarian’ friends, that makes me crazy. Or something. I have decided that “neo-libertarian” means taking whatever the President says at face value- provided he cuts taxes.
Why don’t our libertarian friends understand that this is my money we are spending in Iraq? These are my fellow citizens dying in Iraq. This is my military, our military. Not Bush’s. I not only have every right to know what is going on, I demand it. Since when did government accountability and transparency become anathema to libertarian principles?
*** Update ***
Apparently I am now in a tizzy.
Spin this, McQ:
All of this is just so odd, I wonder if the Washington Times, which isn’t exactly known for high journliastic standards, somehow got this wrong. A month ago, Tony Snow told reporters, “Now, let us keep in mind that the full burden of this report does not fall on his shoulders. A lot of the key judgments, especially about politics, will fall on Ambassador Crocker. So this is — although I know a lot of people talk about ‘the Petraeus report,’ in fact, you have a report that is a joint report by General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker.”
In three sentences, Snow referenced a “report” (the noun) four times. And now there isn’t going to be any such document?
Two things are worth noting in advance. First, according to Petraeus’ spokesman, there will be no report per se. The word is being taken as a verb, not a noun; that is, the general and the ambassador will report to Congress, testifying before the House on Monday, the Senate on Tuesday, and, as a follow-up, the National Press Club on Wednesday.
It is cute watching grown men hinge their credibility on whether or not the word “report” was used as a verb or a noun. The WH pretends for months there will be a report from Petraeus, then days before the expected report, we are told that the report is actually just a private talk between Petraeus and Bush. We are now down to Clintonian parsings from these guys, and McQ is lapping it up. I guess it depends on what the meaning of report is, ehh?
I also like the notion that we are supposed to fact check Petraeus’s oral testimony. Here is how that will work:
1.) Petraeus will make a claim, offer no data to back it up (BUT HE HAS CHARTS!!!!!!!).
2.) Numerous independent sources will sift through available data and their own data, disprove it, or prove (as was done here), that Petraeus is misrepresenting things.
3.) McQ will call them liars and question their patriotism.
The only excuse for no written report is that it provides no paper trail. Petraeus’s command has time to reserach, print up, and distribute dossiers on VIP’s visiting Baghdad, but they can’t be bothered to put their accumulated knowledge about progress (or lack thereof) in Iraq on paper?
And as an aside, McQ, does your back ever get sore from carrying these guy’s baggage? Is there ever anything they say or do that you don’t just look at it and say to yourself- ‘Screw it. Even I can’t spin this shit.’