Union Leader editorial falsely claimed Clinton said "troop surge in Iraq is working"

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

A New Hampshire Union Leader editorial falsely claimed that "Sen. Hillary Clinton said Gen. David Petraeus' troop surge in Iraq is working." In fact, Clinton said that changed tactics -- "particularly in Al Anbar province" -- are "working," not the "surge." The editorial added that Clinton "previously (in March and again in May) noted the surge's successes"; while Clinton has previously acknowledged progress in Al Anbar, that progress reportedly began months before the "surge" did.

An August 24 New Hampshire Union Leader editorial falsely claimed, "On Monday [August 20], Sen. Hillary Clinton [D-NY] said Gen. David Petraeus' troop surge in Iraq is working. On Wednesday [August 22] she said 'it has failed.' Wow, success to failure in two days, and without a single decisive battle! That must be some kind of record." The editorial went on to state: "Her campaign quickly spun her Monday comments as commenting only on the progress in Al-Anbar [Province]. But that's not what she said. She said the surge was 'working' in 'some areas,' including Al-Anbar, not only Al-Anbar." In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, Clinton said in her August 20 speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) that changed tactics in Iraq are "working" -- not President Bush's troop "surge" policy.

As the Union Leader editorial noted, Clinton told the VFW: "We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in Al Anbar province, it's working. ... We're just years too late changing our tactics. We can't ever let that happen again." According to an August 21 New York Times article, "Aides 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." And according to an April 29 Times article, the progress in Al Anbar "began last September" -- months before Bush announced his plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq.

Additionally, the Union Leader claimed that Clinton "previously (in March and again in May) noted the surge's successes," adding: "What can be said is that Sen. Clinton yet again gives the impression that she will say whatever is politically expedient to say and then deny it with a straight face if it comes back to bite her later." Media Matters could find no reports of Clinton "not[ing] the surge's successes" in March or May. However, Clinton's statement to the VFW that the changed "tactics in Iraq ... particularly in Al Anbar Province" show "it's working," is not new, as Media Matters previously noted. The New York Daily News reported on August 23 that she made similar comments about Al Anbar province in March: "Camp Clinton insisted she was talking only about a limited improvement in Anbar, linked to better relations with tribal leaders -- a claim she made to the Daily News in March." Clinton was also quoted in a May 7 New York Observer article saying, "We are making some progress it turns out, in what is called Al Anbar province against al Qaeda and the reason we are is that our military leaders have learned a lot in the last several years there and they have made common cause with some of the tribal leaders, who don't like Al Qaeda any more than we do because Al Qaeda is also going after them."

From the August 24 Union Leader editorial, headlined "Clinton's surge-ery: Now it's working, now it's not":

ON MONDAY, Sen. Hillary Clinton said Gen. David Petraeus' troop surge in Iraq is working. On Wednesday she said "it has failed." Wow, success to failure in two days, and without a single decisive battle! That must be some kind of record.

"We've begun to change tactics in Iraq and in some areas, particularly in Al-Anbar province, it's working," Clinton told the VFW on Monday. "We're just years too late changing our tactics. We can't ever let that happen again."

She previously (in March and again in May) noted the surge's successes.

The reaction from the left was predictable. She got pounded. So on Wednesday she told the New York Daily News, "The surge was designed to give the Iraqi government time to take steps to ensure a political solution. It has failed."

Her campaign quickly spun her Monday comments as commenting only on the progress in Al-Anbar. But that's not what she said. She said the surge was "working" in "some areas," including Al-Anbar, not only Al-Anbar.

Come on, senator. The American people are not that stupid. The surge clearly is producing some positive results, so it cannot be said to have failed. What can be said is that Sen. Clinton yet again gives the impression that she will say whatever is politically expedient to say and then deny it with a straight face if it comes back to bite her later.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
New Hampshire Union Leader
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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