Wash. Post's Murray wrote that Petraeus will argue against "precipitous U.S. withdrawal" -- but who is arguing for it?

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

The Washington Post wrote that Gen. David Petraeus "is expected to report to Congress next month that there are some signs of progress in Iraq and that a precipitous U.S. withdrawal could be disastrous." But Murray gave no indication that the term "precipitous withdrawal" is used by Republicans to attack Iraq withdrawal plans, nor did she cite a single lawmaker who has called for a "precipitous U.S. withdrawal" from Iraq.

In an August 31 Washington Post article reporting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) "said he is willing to compromise with Republicans to find ways to limit troop deployments in Iraq," staff writer Shailagh Murray wrote that Gen. David Petraeus "is expected to report to Congress next month that there are some signs of progress in Iraq and that a precipitous U.S. withdrawal could be disastrous." However, Murray gave no indication that the term "precipitous withdrawal" is used by Republicans to attack Iraq withdrawal plans, nor did she report that Democrats specifically reject that characterization, as Media Matters for America has previously noted. Indeed, Murray did not cite a single lawmaker who has called for a "precipitous U.S. withdrawal" from Iraq.

President Bush has repeatedly used the term "precipitous withdrawal," or variations of it, to describe proposals for withdrawal from Iraq, as have White House spokesman Tony Fratto, State Department spokesman Tom Casey, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), whose website, in a release citing an article claiming that "House Democrats ... have not laid out a program to deal with the aftermath" asks, "What would Iraq look like if the Democrats' plan for precipitous withdrawal were implemented?"

However, during a July 9 press conference discussing a Senate debate on Iraq war policy, Reid himself said that "[n]o one is calling for a precipitous withdrawal in Iraq." Similarly, Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) said during a July 10 press conference: "No one is advocating a precipitous withdrawal. In fact, our advocation is for something quite different -- a phased redeployment of forces, change of missions that are specific, explicit, that can be conducted by American military forces." Further, on the August 26 edition of ABC's This Week, Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) asserted that "[n]o one in a responsible position in government is saying that we should pull the plug in Iraq and have a precipitous withdrawal."

As Media Matters documented, during a July 18 appearance on MSNBC, Murray claimed that Republicans would not support an Iraq withdrawal amendment offered in the Senate -- which she described as requiring a "hard and fast withdrawal date" -- because "[t]hey're just not willing to do that to the military." Murray did not explain what exactly the amendment would "do" to the military, nor did she explain how it represented a "hard and fast withdrawal date."

From the August 31 Washington Post article, headlined "Reid Opens Door to Pact With Antiwar Republicans":

Saying the coming weeks will be "one of the last opportunities" to alter the course of the war, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said he is now willing to compromise with Republicans to find ways to limit troop deployments in Iraq.

[...]

During the week of Sept. 10, Congress will hear a progress report on the war from the U.S. commander in Baghdad, Gen. David H. Petraeus, and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan C. Crocker. After those hearings and a formal report from President Bush, lawmakers will renew their debate on the war.

That debate screeched to a halt in late July after the most poisonous confrontation since Democrats took control of Congress eight months ago. Reid convened an all-night session that infuriated Republicans, who blocked a Democratic withdrawal measure. Despite antiwar stirrings within the GOP, just four Republican senators broke ranks on the vote, and several chastised Reid, saying he wasted the Senate's time on a publicity stunt.

Reid then dropped the war debate, hoping to highlight Republican obstructionism. But the delay has provided the administration with breathing room to build its case that Bush's strategy is working. Petraeus is expected to report to Congress next month that there are some signs of progress in Iraq and that a precipitous U.S. withdrawal could be disastrous.

From the August 26 edition of ABC's This Week:

WEBB: In terms of the aftermath [in Iraq], no one in a responsible position in government is saying that we should pull the plug in Iraq and have a precipitous withdrawal. What we're trying to do is to say eventually we have to withdraw from Iraq. We have to draw down our troops. Even the military realities of the surge which have up-swung the cycles of deployment are going to mandate that we reduce our troops and eventually leave. We're not going to have stability in that region until the American troops are out of Iraq. We have to do it in a way that brings in the other countries around the region, allows us to focus on international terrorism and doesn't destabilize the region, but it must be done.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
The Washington Post
Person
Shailagh Murray
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