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August 28, 2007

Spinning The "Petraeus" Report

As that fervently hoped for moment of apocalyptic release (heretofore known as September 15th) from our long national nightmare rapidly approaches, the weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth surrounding the so-called "Petraeus Report" continues to mount as various truth-to-powerers strive to outdo each other in hyperbolic displays of outraged hyperventilation. The folks at Think Progressyve have caught the BushReich unleashing yet another nefarious plot:

The Los Angeles Times reports that Gen. David Petraeus’ upcoming Sept. 15 report on Iraq will be authored by the White House... Apparently, Bush doesn’t plan to wait for a report; instead, he’ll have it drafted prior to Petraeus’ return.

You have to hand it to him; for a man with all the awesome intellectual prowess of a mildly retarded chimp, the Shrub continues to impress with his diabolically fiendish cleverness. His utter lack of intelligence stands out even more clearly when one takes into consideration the fact that somehow he managed to defeat both Al Gore and John Kerry! But Markos Moulitsas isn't fooled:

Petraeus' Report won't be Petraeus' Report

...the White House will lie in the report it writes under Petraeus' byline, then "interpret" it on its own to justify anything it wants.

Not only that, but that fiendish 'House' is allowing people to talk about it in the newspapers for weeks beforehand, just to allay any fears of jackbooted oppression.

CBS's Bob Schieffer is "suspicious of the ghostwritten Petraeus report":

...suddenly we're told the general won't actually write the report, but that his thoughts will be included in a summary prepared by the White House."

Now the White House has found a way to steal even the thoughts of our brave, murdering troops. Savor the delicious angst...

white house summary
report with no soulpatterns
mindthoughts, gone missing...

Josh Marshall:

This weekend we learned that Gen. Petraeus' Report will actually be written by the White House. Now it turns out that the White House is pushing to have the general's increasingly nominal report delivered by Condi Rice and Bob Gates, with Petraeus relegated to a "private congressional briefing."

Carpetbagger Report:

For weeks, the White House has responded to every question about Iraq the same way: let’s wait until September and see what Petraeus and Crocker have to say...

But this entire discussion seems to have been missing the point. Petraeus and Crocker aren’t going to report to Congress; they’re going to provide information to White House officials, who will in turn tell lawmakers how great things are going in Iraq. Petraeus and Crocker will apparently offer raw data, which the Bush gang will happily interpret on their behalf.

In other words, whether you find Petraeus and Crocker credible or not is irrelevant. Their much-anticipated September report will have their names on it, but will be ghost-written by the least credible sources the nation has on Iraq: the Bush White House.

Sacre bleu! Now Petraeus and Crocker aren't even going to be allowed to appear before Congress! How long will it be before their bleached bones turn up in the Rose Garden?

What is really going on? McQ injects a little reality into the reality-based community's skewed spin on the "Petraeus report":

The short answer is "there is no such thing".

Let me explain.

In the past few weeks we've heard that the White House won't let Petraeus speak. Then we've heard that he'll only provide input to the September 15th Benchmark report, and the White House will then spin that.

I had the opportunity today to talk with a DoD Legislative Affairs expert who went over the law itself. The law is the Supplemental Appropriations Law (Public Law 110-28, "U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007") which funds the war in Iraq. Within that law are various reports which are mandated.

To cut to the chase,

..the law requires the President submit the report, not Gen. Petraeus and not Abm. Crocker.

From the law:


(A) The President shall submit an initial report, in classified and unclassified format, to the Congress, not later than July 15, 2007, assessing the status of each of the specific benchmarks established above, and declaring, in his judgment, whether satisfactory progress toward meeting these benchmarks is, or is not, being achieved.

(B) The President, having consulted with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Commander, Multi-National Forces-Iraq, the United States Ambassador to Iraq, and the Commander of U.S. Central Command, will prepare the report and submit the report to Congress.

[...]

(D) The President shall submit a second report to the Congress, not later than September 15, 2007, following the same procedures and criteria outlined above.

Kind of puts a different "spin" on things, doesn't it? As McQ goes on to point out, both Petraeus and Crocker are also required under the legislation to testify before Congress (i.e., report) before the President's report is made:

(3) Testimony before congress.—Prior to the submission of the President’s second report on September 15, 2007, and at a time to be agreed upon by the leadership of the Congress and the Administration, the United States Ambassador to Iraq and the Commander, Multi-National Forces Iraq will be made available to testify in open and closed sessions before the relevant committees of the Congress.

You'll be happy to know that Nancy Pelosi has already protested the proposed date for their testimony: September 11th. You may recall that the last time General Petraeus testified as Congress required him to do, neither she nor Jack Murtha, chair of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, could find the time to attend.

Matt Sanchez has a few thoughts on the likely reaction to Petraeus' testimony.

Posted by Cassandra at August 28, 2007 08:03 AM

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Posted by: David M at August 28, 2007 11:53 AM

I was on that call with McQ too. I felt sorry for the DOD LA guy -- he spent 16 years on the Hill, before being called back up to go to Iraq (which I assume means he is either an officer, or is working for DOD as a civilian, though he didn't specify). You could tell he was just bothered by the media spinning of a clearly written law.

Another thing you could tell was that he had tried to go to the press to straighten it out, and they weren't interested in the truth. He didn't say that in so many words, but he did say that he had thought that bloggers would be 'the best way' to get the story out, 'because you actually care about the distinction.' That suggests to me he'd tried to explain the distinction to others, who didn't care.

That's got to be a rough job. People have gotten so invested in the political infighting, they want to believe in it even when you can see for yourself that the institutions are just obeying the law. The fact that the law exists and is plainly worded can't break into the discussion, because it disrupts the narrative of a political struggle between the manipulative White House and the poor Congress (i.e., the ones who actually wrote the law requiring it to be done this way).

Posted by: Grim at August 28, 2007 02:19 PM

Well, they didn't personally write those laws, Grim. Perhaps they believe they can act as if laws don't exist for them so long as they weren't the ones that helped write them into law.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 28, 2007 03:01 PM

I've noticed that they believe they can act as if laws don't exist for them period-end-of-statement-no-further-qualifiers.

Posted by: BillT at August 28, 2007 11:08 PM

Now you are just being cynical, Bill ; )

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 28, 2007 11:16 PM

I think this is a good copy of the grab bag trick of creating a problem in the first place and then complaining about the problem in the second place. This is so you can use the problem you created to win political points, since if you created it then you would know all the surprises, loopholes, etc.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 29, 2007 02:48 AM

Followed by: Send us back to Congers and, by the Great Horned Spoon, we'll work really, really, *really* hard to try to possibly think of a way to maybe fix it. Really.

And we'll do it in the first 100 hours, too. No foolin'...

Posted by: BillT at August 29, 2007 02:46 PM

Cynical? Qui, *moi*?

Does Cass stuff marmosets?

Posted by: BillT at August 29, 2007 02:50 PM

And they won't take any Iraqi style vacations in the summer, Bill, to prove how hard working and earnest they are!

Posted by: Ymarsakar at August 29, 2007 06:56 PM

But if they do, they'll be *working* vacations.

Working to get re-elected, working to avoid indictments, working on their tans...

Posted by: BillT at August 29, 2007 09:20 PM

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