On Fox News, Mara Liasson claimed that President Bush is "trying to take control of his Iraq policy, and he's going to put his own imprint on it." But Bush is commander in chief of the armed forces and has famously declared that he is "the decider."
On the "All-Star Panel" segment of the January 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report, National Public Radio national correspondent Mara Liasson claimed that recent personnel shifts in the Bush administration show that President Bush is "trying to take control of his Iraq policy, and he's going to put his own imprint on it." She later said that, based on these personnel moves, "it sounds like the president is moving to ... really, in a hands-on way, take control." Liasson did not explain who she thought had previously been making the decisions about U.S. policy in Iraq. As president, Bush is "commander in chief" of the armed forces. Bush has stated that the war in Iraq itself was ultimately "my decision," and famously declared that he is "the decider."
He made the declaration on April 18, 2006, when rejecting calls from several retired generals that he fire then-Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld. Asked by a reporter to respond to "critics" of Rumsfeld "who say that there needs to be a change," Bush declared:
BUSH: I say, I listen to all voices, but mine is the final decision. And Don Rumsfeld is doing a fine job. He's not only transforming the military, he's fighting a war on terror. He's helping us fight a war on terror. I have strong confidence in Don Rumsfeld. I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense.
Indeed, Bush has often said the decision to invade Iraq was his decision. For example, November 11, 2005: "I made the decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power"; December 14, 2005: "As president, I'm responsible for the decision to go into Iraq. ... Given Saddam's history and the lessons of September the 11th, my decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision"; and March 19, 2003: "On my orders, coalition forces have begun striking selected targets of military importance to undermine Saddam Hussein's ability to wage war. These are opening stages of what will be a broad and concerted campaign."
In addition, as Media Matters for America has noted, in a December 21 article, The Washington Post reported that, although "Bush has traditionally paid public deference to the generals, saying any decisions on moving U.S. forces in the region would depend on their views," an unnamed Bush "senior aide" said that Bush has "never left the decision to commanders. ... He is the commander in chief."
Finally, on November 30, 2005, Bush released his "National Strategy for Victory in Iraq." Liasson did not mention that document or distinguish it from his forthcoming plan, which she said will bear his imprint.
From the January 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Brit Hume:
BRIT HUME (host): So, what does all this portend? And [Director of National Intelligence John] Negroponte moving on, that's interesting.
LIASSON: Look, I think that it's interesting that [Sen. John D.] Rockefeller [D-WV] said this is not the way to start the new year. Actually, it's exactly the way to start the new year because the president is trying to take control of his Iraq policy, and he's going to put his own imprint on it --
HUME: And redirect it to some extent.
LIASSON: -- and redirect it, and he's going to put his own imprint on it. And it sounds like what he wants is a different direction, both militarily and diplomatically. I mean, moving Negroponte to the State Department, he is a seasoned diplomat. Whatever you might say about what he was not able to accomplish in the intelligence area, he is going to be -- he is a very strong diplomatic person.
HUME: It's someone they all -- members of this administration like Negroponte.
HUME: He's in good standing.
LIASSON: And in terms of the military change, looks like the generals who are leaving are the ones who resisted this idea of more troops. [Lieutenant General David H.] Petraeus has a reputation of somebody who's very effective in terms of melding the kind of military and --
HUME: Well, he's a troop trainer guy, wasn't he? He's the guy --
LIASSON: -- and also -- and also understood how you had to do all these different things in Iraq at the same time, both train the troops and do this kind of reconstruction and deal with --
HUME: The security crisis.
LIASSON: -- the security crisis. So, it sounds like the president is moving to -- to, really, in a hands-on way, take control.