CBS' Chen: Casey's reported Iraq withdrawal plan "not a cut-and-run strategy"
In reporting on the purported pullout plan proposed by Gen. George Casey Jr. for Iraq, on the CBS Evening News, correspondent Joie Chen stated: "It's not a cut-and-run strategy, but the report suggests the Pentagon is contemplating a sharp change in direction, a way out for some forces." Chen did not say how she thought Casey's reported plan differs from what the White House and Senate Republicans have labeled the Democrats' "cut-and-run" proposals for U.S. troop withdrawals.
On the June 25 edition of the CBS Evening News, correspondent Joie Chen asserted that a plan reportedly presented to senior members of the Bush administration by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the senior U.S. commander in Iraq -- that, according to The New York Times, "projects sharp reductions in the United States military presence there [in Iraq] by the end of 2007, with the first cuts coming this September" -- is "not a cut-and-run strategy, but the report suggests the Pentagon is contemplating a sharp change in direction, a way out for some forces."
As Media Matters for America has noted (here and here), media outlets have uncritically repeated Republican attacks on Democratic proposals for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq -- with or without a timetable -- as tantamount to "cutting and running." Chen did not say how she thought Casey's reported plan differs from what the White House and Senate Republicans have labeled the Democrats' "cut-and-run" proposals.
From the June 25 edition of the CBS Evening News:
RUSS MITCHELL (anchor): There is word tonight the Pentagon may be looking for ways to bring some troops home from Iraq. A new report says the top U.S. commander in Iraq has drawn up plans for what is being called a significant pullback of some key brigades. Joie Chen is at the Pentagon tonight.
CHEN: It's not a cut-and-run strategy, but the report suggests the Pentagon is contemplating a sharp change in direction, a way out for some forces. The New York Times says General George Casey, the top man in Iraq, last week laid out a plan that would slash the 14 combat brigades now in Iraq down to five or six by next December. The first two brigades would depart this fall and wouldn't be replaced. This would be a significant change, though not in numbers. Combat forces make up only a fraction of the 130,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq, and Defense Chief Donald Rumsfeld last week warned Iraq may still need lots of non-combat forces to stick around.
DONALD H. RUMSFELD (Secretary of Defense): It very likely will go down and up and down and up depending on the circumstances and depending on the needs.
CHEN: Still smarting over last week's botched bids to set any timetable for troop withdrawals, Democrats quickly cried foul.
SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CA): Eighty percent of us voted to say we ought to start reducing our troop presence there, and again, we got pummeled. And now, it turns out we are in sync with General Casey.
CHEN: But others warn the pullout talk may yet be premature.
SEN. JOHN WARNER (R-VA): We could lose it all if we fail to -- to succeed in allowing the new Iraqi government to take over this nation. And if it suddenly fell into a tragic civil war, that would not be in the interests of the United States, the region, and could have serious repercussions.
CHEN: Both the Pentagon and the White House are downplaying any suggestion that an exit strategy of any sort is being worked out. A lot still depends, Russ, on what happens on the ground in Iraq.
MITCHELL: But Joie, if this report is in fact correct, is General Casey saying in essence he thinks the Iraqi troops are getting up to speed?
CHEN: Well, not necessarily. It is still possible that these -- this plan was still meant as some sort of framework of discussions between General Casey and the new government in Baghdad. The other thing is that the Iraqi forces may still have great needs in terms of intelligence, logistics, training. And that may, in the end, mean that a lot of U.S. boots will still remain on the ground, Russ.
MITCHELL: Joie Chen at the Pentagon. Thank you very much.