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On the July 15 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, discussing Sen. Jim Webb's (D-VA) proposal that would require that U.S. troops spend the same amount of time at home as they spent overseas absent a presidential waiver "to meet an operational emergency posing a threat to vital national security interests of the United States," host Tim Russert asked: "When Congressman [John] Murtha [D] of Pennsylvania introduced similar legislation in the House, it was described as a 'slow bleed,' an attempt, in effect, to micromanage the war and bring the war to an end by limiting the number of troops that were available. Was that your intent?" As Media Matters for America has noted repeatedly (here, here, here, and here), Republicans seized on the phrase "slow bleed" to attack Democrats after it appeared in a February 14 Politico article, by congressional bureau chief John Bresnahan, about Murtha and other Democrats' Iraq strategy, but the phrase was not used by Murtha or other Democrats to describe Murtha's proposal. In fact, Politico Editor-in-Chief John Harris "confess[ed]" that Murtha "had nothing to do with" the phrase "slow bleed" and that Harris was "the author of the Democratic Party's 'slow-bleed strategy' for ending the war in Iraq."
From the July 15 edition of NBC's Meet the Press:
RUSSERT: Let me turn specifically to Senator Webb's amendment, and this is how it was described: "The Webb amendment said any armed services member deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan would have the same amount of time at home that they serve overseas before being redeployed. It also required that no troops, including those in reserve and National Guard units, could be redeployed to Iraq or Afghanistan within three years of their previous deployment."
An attempt to reduce the strain, obviously, on military families. When Congressman Murtha of Pennsylvania introduced similar legislation in the House, it was described as a "slow bleed," an attempt, in effect, to micromanage the war and bring the war to an end by limiting the number of troops that were available. Was that your intent?
WEBB: Congressman Murtha's provision had a lot of restraints on it. And I think you could argue that it was micromanagement. They had equipment restraints on it, they had unit readiness indicators on it. And let me say, I used to do this for a living. I did this for three years when I was assistant secretary of defense. I had the first 120 days of war, how you lay out the transition from peacetime to wartime, how you merge the reserves in with the Guard, et cetera. And what I did is was I tried to take the one unassailable fact here, and that is that four years into this environment, we've been experimenting with one different operational requirement versus another -- I was going to say "strategy," but this is not strategy -- and at a minimum, we have to be able to say that if you're going to do this, if you want to stay in Iraq for five, 10 more years, like Senator [Lindsey] Graham [R-SC] does, or if you want to get out within a couple months, like Congressman Murtha does, we have to put some restraints on how our troops are being used.