MSNBC's Shuster misrepresented Clinton's assessment of Anbar

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE

On Hardball, David Shuster falsely suggested that in a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton overlooked local Sunni leaders' cooperation with coalition forces in Al Anbar Province and instead attributed the progress there to President Bush's escalation strategy. However, in the speech, Clinton linked the improvements in Al Anbar to new "tactics" -- not Bush's escalation of the war.

On the August 21 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, MSNBC correspondent David Shuster reported that President Bush "maintained the U.S. troop escalation is helping Iraq's security" and asserted that Bush "is getting support from an unlikely source: Democratic presidential front-runner [Sen.] Hillary Clinton [D-NY]." Shuster aired a clip of Clinton saying during an August 20 speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), "We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in Al Anbar Province, it's working." Shuster then asserted: "Clinton's statement was remarkable for several reasons. First, some military analysts say the improvement in Al Anbar is actually the result of an amnesty agreement with tribal leaders who targeted U.S. troops and is not the result of the U.S. escalation." But Shuster's suggestion that Clinton overlooked local Sunni leaders' cooperation with coalition forces and instead attributed the progress in Al Anbar Province to the troop increase is false. As the clip showed and Media Matters for America noted, Clinton linked the improvements in Al Anbar to new "tactics" -- not Bush's escalation of the war. An August 21 New York Times article reported that "[a]ides to Mrs. Clinton said her remarks that military tactics in Iraq are 'working' referred specifically to reports of increased cooperation from Sunnis leading to greater success against insurgents in Al Anbar Province."

Shuster went on to note that "later in her speech," Clinton "said progress in some areas doesn't change the overall picture," and he aired a clip of her saying, "We're just years too late changing our tactics."

Shuster's assertion that "the improvement in Al Anbar is actually the result of an amnesty agreement with tribal leaders who targeted U.S. troops and is not the result of the U.S. escalation" -- which does not conflict with Clinton's assessment of the situation -- was reported as early as April 29 in a New York Times article on improvements in Al Anbar, which noted that the progress "began last September," months before Bush announced his plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq.

From the August 21 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

SHUSTER: At his news conference today, the president maintained the U.S. troop escalation is helping Iraq's security.

BUSH: There is some progress being made. [Unintelligible] one aspect of my decision is working.

SHUSTER: On that issue, the president is getting support from an unlikely source: Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton.

CLINTON: We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in Al Anbar Province, it's working.

SHUSTER: Clinton's statement was remarkable for several reasons. First, some military analysts say the improvement in Al Anbar is actually the result of an amnesty agreement with tribal leaders who targeted U.S. troops and is not the result of the U.S. escalation. Secondly, Mrs. Clinton's speech is giving Republicans ammunition in their efforts to keep the war going.

Mrs. Clinton, however, still insists on a troop withdrawal. And later in her speech, as her campaign noted, she said progress in some areas doesn't change the overall picture.

CLINTON: We're just years too late changing our tactics. We can't ever let that happen again. We can't be fighting the last war, we have to be preparing to fight the new war.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
David Shuster
Show/Publication
Hardball
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.