Sunday, February 4, 2007

WaPo's Karen De Young and Her Left Jab at Surge

In today's Sunday Edition of the Washington Post, Karen De Young takes another "left jab" at the Administration's enhancement to the Iraq policy, known affectionately or otherwise as "Surge".

"The success of the Bush administration's new Iraq strategy depends on a series of rapid and dramatic political and economic reforms that even the plan's authors have little confidence will work."

Is De Young seriously trying to convince the WaPo's readership that Bush's Senior Staff and some of the best military minds at the Pentagon got together under growing pressure from the Left and put together a lukewarm plan at best? Knowing all that was at stake, they just threw a plan at the wall and used what stuck? Knowing full well that political hats are being thrown into the proverbial ring all around the Beltway for '08 with Iraq as the focal point; that there would be no "do-overs" and that this plan would be critical for this administration's legacy and the success of Iraq, De Young stood by this story? With the overwhelming ramifications of this plan, delusional is the only word that comes to mind.

Now, a little more on the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that De Young references here from the Council on Foreign Relations. Before getting into the details of the NIE, it is important to note that the NIE defines itself as an entity that does not predict but estimates the possible course of future events. Huh? Even in the introduction of the report released Friday the NIE summarizes their ratonale as imperfect at best;
These assessments, which are based on incomplete or at times fragmentary information are not a fact, proof, or knowledge. Some analytical judgments are based directly on collected information; others rest on previous judgments, which serve as building blocks. In either type of judgment, we do not have “evidence” that shows something to be a fact or that definitively links two items or issues.
The NIE link above also goes on to describe it's process which usually takes two to three months for them to evaluate and report back on an item that they are asked to "estimate". It would appear that they fast-tracked their review of the President's plan just a bit.

As if the waters couldn't get muddier, on Friday, when the classified report was released by the NIE, De Young and Walter Pincus had an WaPo A1 page piece in which they stated;

At a Pentagon news conference, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, noting that he had not read the report, said he agreed with Hadley that "the words 'civil war' oversimplify a very complex situation."

Yet, here is what the unclassifed version of the report has to say in direct contradiction to the De Young-Pincus piece. This is what it said in the context of the "civil war" claim;

The Intelligence Community judges that the term “civil war” does not adequately capture the complexity of the conflict in Iraq, which includes extensive Shia-on-Shia violence, al-Qa’ida and Sunni insurgent attacks on Coalition forces, and widespread criminally motivated violence. Nonetheless, the term “civil war” accurately describes key elements of the Iraqi conflict, including the hardening of ethno-sectarian identities, a sea change in the character of the violence, ethno-sectarian mobilization, and population displacements.

Now if you re-read the Sunday piece carefully, the above quote is somewhat contradictory or at the very least, an exaggeration compared to Friday's summary of the same classified report. It was not specified if the declassified report or classified report was used in the filing of either report. DeYoung and Pincus' source in Friday's piece is described as simply "a source familiar with the document". I don't know about you but I would have given much more credence to "a source close to the President" or "a source within the Pentagon" or something to that effect. "A source familiar with the document", could be the intern who drove the 90 page document from the Pentagon to the White House. So much for "classified" it appears.

Back to De Young's Sunday piece, she briefly critiques the President's public denial of the use of a "containment option" (pushing US troops back to the Iraqi borders to avoid sectarian violence). Although the Friday piece refers to Arizona Senator John McCain's sleep-rendering soliloquy about the failed policy in Iraq during Gen. George Casey's confirmation hearing as Army Chief of Staff, I guess De Young missed Casey's most significant statement in which he confirmed that 14 of the 18 provinces in Iraq have reported little or no violence over the past two months. Casey went on to say that there are already six provinces, three in the north and three in the south that are completely under control of Iraqi Forces and three more that will be doing so over the next few weeks. What is our measure for success again? I don't think I got the memo.

The irony of her closing for this piece actually caused a smile to creep over my face (sarcastic smile, but a smiles nonetheless).

But some officials worry that the expanded U.S. presence will repeat the mistakes of the past -- when the United States oversaw virtually every part of the Iraqi government -- and undermine the goal of turning the country over to the Iraqis themselves.

"It's the same old problem as in 2003," cautioned one official. "The same impatience that if they can't do it we'll step in and do it. There is a bit of that creeping into this dialogue."

"Impatience"? If there are signs of impatience within Iraq it is from pressure from the Left and the anti-war people who simply want us out of Iraq at any cost so they can turn around and tell the Bush Administration they failed.

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