Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Patreus or Betray Us

Yesterday the right wing pundits were all having a hissy fit because MoveOn.org ran an add which questioned Petraeus credibility. They were crowing about the great success his testimony was for Dubya and his cronies. Following is a critique of his testimony from the MoveOn folks which will convince any thinking person that Patraeus is just another part of the Big Lie that Bush has been trying to sell the country for six years.

Yesterday, General David Petraeus misled the country.

He used faulty statistics and cherry-picked intelligence to argue that American troops should stay in Iraq for the foreseeable future. The general said we're making major progress1—and we have to stay the course. Sadly, independent assessments show that things in Iraq have gone from bad to worse (see below for more on how Petraeus stretched the truth).

Some of you have emailed to say it reminds you of the day four and a half years ago when President Bush sent General Colin Powell to the U.N. to make a trumped-up case for war.

Powell's WMDs helped justify the invasion of Iraq, and Petraeus' version of "progress"—if it goes unchallenged—will justify keeping troops there for years. Can you take a few minutes to write a letter-to-the editor reminding folks that the "surge" didn't work—and that the responsible thing to do is bring our troops home?


Petraeus based much of his assessment on the claim that violence in Iraq is dropping.2 That just isn't true:
  • Petraeus is using "funny math." According to the Washington Post, Petraeus and the Pentagon are using a bizarre formula for measuring violence in the country. For example, deaths by car bombs don't count.3 And assassinations count only if you're shot in the back of the head—not in the front.4
  • Iraqis believe the surge has failed. According to a massive new ABC/BBC poll, every single Iraqi polled in Baghdad, the primary target of the "surge," said it had made security worse. Iraqis themselves overwhelmingly think the situation in Iraq is deteriorating, in terms of security, political cooperation, the economy, and other measures. Overall, 70% think the escalation worsened rather than improved security conditions. 5
  • The independent GAO report found that violence is up. A comprehensive Government Accountability Office report ordered by Congress found that "average number of daily attacks against civilians have remained unchanged from February to July 2007."6 In August, things got worse, with civilian casualties rising according to the Associated Press7 and the Los Angeles Times.8
  • For our troops, it's the bloodiest summer yet. More U.S. troops died every month this year compared to the same month last year.9
Petraeus claimed that he compiled his report without conferring with the White House. But the Washington Post recently reported that Petraeus or his staff joined daily conference calls with the White House and former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie this summer to "map out ways of selling the surge." The Post reported that Gillespie's White House political unit was "hard-wired" to Petraeus' military unit.10

We would all like to see life improving in Iraq. But it's not—it's getting worse. And if US forces stay in Iraq both Americans and Iraqis will pay a terrible price.

Today is the anniversary of the worst terrorist attack in American history. The wounds of 9/11 are still fresh for many of us. After 9/11, President Bush used fear, lies and trumped-up intelligence to stampede us into Iraq. Now, America is bogged down in an unwinnable civil war, and Al Qaeda has regained enough strength to once again menace the United States.11

It would be a tragic irony if, six years later, the administration used skewed intelligence to head off the growing momentum for an exit strategy from Iraq.

Please write a letter reminding America and Congress not to fall, ever again, for White House lies—we need a timeline to bring our troops home.


Thanks for all that you do,

–Nita, Karin, Laura, Eli, and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team
Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

P.S. Yesterday, MoveOn members sponsored an ad in the New York Times debunking Petraeus' claims. Click here to see the ad—and the evidence to back it up:

The ad stirred a controversy on Capitol Hill—it accuses Petraeus of "cooking the books." And it charges that Petraeus is betraying the American peoples' trust by spinning the facts to support the White House. Some Democrats were uncomfortable with such strong language, and Republicans attacked MoveOn.

We're sure if we'd run an ad debunking Colin Powell's testimony in 2003, they would have done the same thing—but sometimes it's important to set the facts straight.

1. Washington Post, "Petraeus Backs Initial Pullout," 9/11/07
http://www.moveon.org/r?r=2958&id=11221-8292763-PChjRg&t=5 2. Ibid.
3. New York Times, "Time to Take a Stand," 9/7/07
4. Washington Post, "Experts Doubt Drop in Violence in Iraq," 9/6/07
5. ABC News, "Iraqis' Own Surge Assessment," 9/10/07
6. Washington Post, "Experts Doubt Drop in Violence in Iraq," 9/6/07
7. Associated Press, "1,809 Iraqi civilians killed in August," 9/1/07
8. Los Angeles Times, "Iraqi civilian deaths climb again," 9/1/07
9. http://www.iCasualties.org
10. Washington Post, "Among Top Officials, 'Surge' Has Sparked Dissent, Infighting," 9/9/07
11. Washington Post, "Scarier than Bin Laden," 9/9/07

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