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Friday, September 14, 2007

Lying and misleading while telling the truth

I have argued that general Petraeus made (and presented graphically) false statements to congress. Very clumsy since no one thinks he is dumb. I think that the problem must be poor communication during the rush to cook the books, since the false statements are false descriptions of a figure he presented.

In contrast, when he is winging it, Petreaus is very good. I'm sure he is a fine general attempting an impossible task, but he would have made an excellent lawyer.

Consider this as summarized by David Cloud in the New York Times

General Petraeus told lawmakers during two days of Congressional testimony this week that his plan for reducing the American presence in Iraq by five combat brigades through mid-July was “fully supported” by Adm. William J. Fallon, the chief of Central Command and the senior American commander in the Middle East, as well as by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The general said, “There has been no recommendation I am aware of that would have laid out by any of those individuals a more rapid withdrawal.”

He acknowledged though that he and other top-ranking officers had begun “discussions about the pace of the mission transition,”

Now we know that the uniformed military decided not to present one proposal to Bush, presumably because the "discussions" have included uhm frank and useful exchanges. Basically it is clear that other top-ranking officers totally disagree with Petraeus (oh and they outrank him). However, Petreaus dodged the perjury trap. He presented no plan to congress for what to do after mid-July and only noted that Fallon agreed with him up till then (the vagueness of the withdrawal figure means it is consistent with both positions in the debate).

A team of officers was working on a competing proposal to present to the President. It takes time to plan a redeployment and they seem to have decided to take lots of time on a proposal they know the President will reject "Among Mr. Bush’s other senior military advisers, differences about how deep the cuts should go appeared to have been set aside with the decision to postpone further decisions until next spring". Thus no detailed proposal has been "laid out". Altogether an effort to mislead which was challenged by someone who knew about the controversy followed neither by retreat not perjury. No one doubts that the guy is smart.

His commander in chief, however, is not willing to compromise with reality. Glenn Kessler totally demolishes him. It is very good that the Washington Post is finally fact checking the President.

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