Blitzer omitted context of Clinton remarks to ask: "Why not give the military a chance to see if they can finish the job?"

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

In an interview with Sen. Chuck Schumer, CNN's Wolf Blitzer omitted the context from Sen. Hillary Clinton's remarks that "[w]e've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas -- particularly in Al Anbar province -- it's working," to assert that "even some Democrats are now suggesting that maybe the military part of the troop buildup, the so-called surge, is making some progress." But Clinton was attributing successes in Al Anbar to a change in tactics, not President Bush's so-called "surge" strategy.

On the August 28 edition of CNN's The Situation Room, host Wolf Blitzer stated, "[E]ven some Democrats are now suggesting that maybe the military part of the troop buildup, the so-called surge, is making some progress" and aired Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) remarks from the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) convention on August 20, during which Clinton said: "We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas -- particularly in Al Anbar province -- it's working." In doing so, however, Blitzer omitted the context of Clinton's remarks, as well as her campaign's subsequent explanation that she was attributing successes in Al Anbar to a change in tactics, not President Bush's so-called "surge" strategy. After airing the video clip, Blitzer asked Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY): "Why not give the military a chance to see if they can finish the job?"

As The New York Times reported on August 21, "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." In fact, Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted that Clinton suggested months ago that U.S. forces were making progress in Iraq due to improved relations between tribal leaders and the U.S. military. The New York Daily News reported on August 23 that Clinton 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." Indeed, on March 16, Clinton told the Daily News' Michael McAuliff: "If we're getting good cooperation in Al Anbar proivince [sic] and we've got Al Qaeda pinned down, we can't walk away from that. And I don't know anybody who has looked at this from a military perspective who says that we would need a lot of troops to keep that up." Clinton was also quoted in a May 7 New York Observer article as 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."

Schumer responded to Blitzer's question by noting that "the second part of what Hillary said is it's not going to make much of a difference if we don't have a strong political government. And I think that's where Democrats overwhelmingly are."

Moreover, while Blitzer used Clinton's statement as a basis for asking Schumer why U.S. troops should not be given "a chance to see if they can finish the job," Clinton herself called for a gradual withdrawal from Iraq during her VFW speech, stating, "Some of us will disagree. I think the best way of honoring their service is by beginning to bring them home and making sure that when they come home that we have everything ready for them."

From the August 28 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

SCHUMER: Well, the question is: How does the war in Iraq further going after and containing Iran? And this is what the president always does. He doesn't focus on the facts on the ground, what's going on in the civil war in Iraq, can we ever get the Shiites and the Sunnis together, how are we going to create a government even if the surge is temporarily successful. And it's diversionary.

Yes, Iran is a serious problem. I'd like to see the president's plan on what to do with Iran. He has not made any case at all that the continuing to fight a civil war in Iraq helps with Iran.

BLITZER: But, you know, even some Democrats are now suggesting that maybe the military part of the troop buildup, the so-called surge, is making some progress. I want you to listen to what your colleague, Hillary Clinton, said the other day.

Listen to this.

CLINTON [video clip]: We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas -- particularly in Al Anbar province -- it's working.

BLITZER: All right, so what about that? Why not give --

SCHUMER: Well, the second --

BLITZER: Why not give the military a chance to see if they can finish the job?

SCHUMER: Well, the second part of what Hillary said is it's not going to make much of a difference if we don't have a strong political government. And I think that's where Democrats overwhelmingly are. When the president started this surge, it wasn't an end in itself; it was a means to strengthening the Maliki government.

If anything, the Maliki government is weaker and in greater disrepute among the Iraqi people and among any observer here in America than it was before the surge started. We can't keep all these troops there forever. And what is going to happen when the troops have to leave because their tours of duty are gone?

If there's no political strength in the government, and that government can hold together, and is going to fall apart whether we stay there three months, three years, or 20 years, and that's what most people think, then what is the point of the surge? The president has never answered that question.

Again, he never focuses on the issue at hand. He's always diversionary, either trying to scare people -- nuclear holocaust in Iran, a real problem, but nothing to do, at least he's not made any connection with the war in Iraq -- or, now, well, the surge is working in Anbar province. How does that create a government that will last in Iraq after we're gone?

BLITZER: We're out of time, Senator, but your quick reaction to Republican Senator Larry Craig of Idaho pleading guilty to disorderly conduct at a public men's room at the Minneapolis airport.

Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Wolf Blitzer
Show/Publication
The Situation Room
Stories/Interests
Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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