Thursday, August 16, 2007

The so-called 'Petraeus' Report


So now, Petraeus might not even be the one who reports to congress on the progress of the Iraq occupation.

Senior congressional aides said yesterday that the White House has proposed limiting the much-anticipated appearance on Capitol Hill next month of Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker to a private congressional briefing, suggesting instead that the Bush administration's progress report on the Iraq war should be delivered to Congress by the secretaries of state and defense.


White House officials suggested to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week that Petraeus and Crocker would brief lawmakers in a closed session before the release of the report, congressional aides said. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates would provide the only public testimony.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) told the White House that Bush's presentation plan was unacceptable. An aide to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) said that "we are in talks with the administration and . . . Senator Levin wants an open hearing" with Petraeus.

Those positions only hardened yesterday with reports that the document would not be written by the Army general but instead would come from the White House, with input from Petraeus, Crocker and other administration officials.
Frankly, I don't have a problem with this. We already know that White House aides are writing the report. Why does it matter who actually presents the pack of lies to congress?

Rather than insisting that Gen. Petraeus appear on stage, reading somebody else's script, I say Democrats should make the most of this opportunity to knock down the perception that The Report is anything more than a tactic to help Bush run out the clock on the occupation. Rather than reacting with anger, they should just laugh.

There he goes again, up to his old tricks! How stupid does he think the American people are?

Come on, Dems! Smarten up a bit. Play the hand you're dealt with a little finesse, and you can actually win this one.


Or, as Matt puts it:

Petraeus and Crocker work for Bush and it's always been silly to portray them as independent actors. But the point is that there's no independent assessment here -- the White House is going to make an official statement of the White House's assessment of the situation and why the White House believes its official assessment supports the policies the White House favors. All that's fine, and insofar as the White House is persuasive it should sway people. But we've already seen what the White House talking points on the surge are -- tribal alliances in Anbar Province, unsupported claims that civilian casualties are declining, plus we need more time for progress on the political front to take hold -- there's no particular reason to wait with baited breath to see how they format the official document.
We already know everything we need to know about the inevitable conclusions of the September report. The only surprise will be if, in addition to arguing for the continued occupation of Iraq, it makes an explicit case for hostilities against Iran. That would be quite a shocker, but by helping Bush to pretend that the report is anything more than a press release, the Democrats have limited their ability to challenge its conclusions.