Reporting on Bush's "new way forward in Iraq," Fox 31 failed to note his dismissal of Iraq Study Group's key recommendations


KDVR Fox 31 reported that President Bush will be "taking a closer look at the Iraq Study Group's recent report," but it did not note that he already has dismissed the report's two most important recommendations.

Reporting on President Bush's self-proclaimed "new way forward in Iraq" during the December 11 broadcast of KDVR Fox 31's News at Nine O'Clock, co-anchor Deborah Takahara stated that Bush will be "taking a closer look at the Iraq Study Group's [ISG] recent report." But she did not note that Bush already has dismissed two of the report's key recommendations -- namely, that the United States diplomatically engage with Iran and Syria, and that it move to withdraw combat troops "[b]y the first quarter of 2008."

From the December 11 broadcast of KDVR Fox 31's News at Nine O'Clock:

TAKAHARA: In the meantime, President Bush will meet with historians, military commanders, a leading foreign politician, and an ambassador, all over the next 48 hours. And the focus: where to go next in Iraq. President Bush will also be taking a closer look at the Iraq Study Group's recent report recommending a gradual withdrawal of U.S. combat troops by 2008.

BUSH: Appreciate the advice I got from those folks in the field. And that advice is an important part and an important component of putting together a new way forward in Iraq.

TAKAHARA: Part of that way forward will tackle how to handle Iraq's neighbors, particularly Iran and Syria.

As the Iraq Study Group report advised, "[T]he United States should embark on a robust diplomatic effort to establish an international support structure intended to stabilize Iraq and ease tensions in other countries in the region. This support structure should include every country that has an interest in averting a chaotic Iraq, including all of Iraq's neighbors -- Iran and Syria among them." Furthermore, according to the ISG, the report's "most important recommendations call for new and enhanced diplomatic and political efforts in Iraq and the region, and a change in the primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq that will enable the United States to begin to move its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly." Specifically, the ISG concluded that "[b]y the first quarter of 2008, subject to unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq."

While Fox 31 reported Bush's comment that he "[a]ppreciate[s] the advice I got from those folks in the field," it failed to note that he has said he plans to ignore the ISG's two most important recommendations -- redeploying troops and talking with Iran and Syria.

As the New York Times reported on December 7, "President Bush moved quickly on Thursday to distance himself from the central recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group: pulling back all combat brigades over the next 15 months and direct talks with Iran and Syria." According to the Times, following the report's release, Bush stated at a press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair "that the United States needs 'a new approach' in Iraq and that he would 'seriously consider' the report, but was unlikely to accept all of its recommendations." The Times further reported:

At the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the co-chairmen of the panel, James A. Baker III and Lee H. Hamilton, called on Congress to exert pressure on Mr. Bush to accept the report in its entirety. Mr. Baker told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the White House should not treat the report "like a fruit salad," while Mr. Hamilton complained that Congress had been "extremely timid" in overseeing the war.

But Mr. Bush, in his first extended comments on the study, pushed back. With Mr. Blair by his side, the president said he needed to be "flexible and realistic" in considering troop movements, and made clear he would impose preconditions for talking to Iran and Syria that neither side is willing to accept.

Similarly, The Boston Globe (accessed through the Nexis database) reported on December 8, "Bush said he welcomed new ideas on Iraq but indicated he opposed some of the study group's central recommendations. He said he would not set a goal of withdrawing the bulk of US combat troops by 2008, insisting that troops would stay until they had achieved their objective." The Globe further noted:

The president also showed little enthusiasm for another of the panel's primary recommendations: that the United States try to enlist the help of Iran and Syria in stabilizing Iraq. He said the two countries "shouldn't bother to show up" at any regional meetings on the stability of Iraq unless they are committed to helping the young democracy survive politically, economically, and militarily.

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