Bush Lies About Iraqi Army Readiness
When questioned about his previous exaggerated claims regarding the battle preparedness of Iraqi troops, Bush once again tossed out grossly inflated figures for the number of Iraqi battalions prepared to replace U.S. troops.
"A couple of weeks ago, you stood here in the Rose Garden with Generals Abizaid and Casey, and you cited the accomplishments regarding the standing up of Iraqi troops there; you said that there were 12 battalions that were working out of Fallujah and the western part, 20 in Baghdad, 100 across the nation," said the reporter questioning Bush.
The president responded by reinforcing that bold claim.
"Right now there are over 80 army battalions fighting alongside coalition troops. Over 30 Iraqi -- I say, army battalions -- Iraqi army battalions. There are over 30 Iraqi battalions in the lead. And that is substantial progress from the way the world was a year ago," said the president.
The president is either lying or even more woefully uninformed than we all assume he is.
Indeed, Generals John Abizaid and George Casey, appeared before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees on September 29, 2005 and said quite the opposite, with Casey telling Congress that only one Iraqi battalion is ready. This was bad news given that the Pentagon had gone to Capitol Hill in June and claimed that three Iraqi battalions were fully trained, equipped and capable of operating independently.
"[That] doesn't feel like progress," said Senator Susan Collins of Maine, when Casey lowered the number of fully autonomous Iraqi battalions to only one.
Senator Carl Levin of Michigan agreed. "In one key area that's no improvement at all, and that is the number of Iraqi battalions that are able to independently take on the insurgents on their own without our support. That is one battalion four months ago and it's only one battalion now. So in that area there's been no progress at all. So I'd say it's uneven progress," said Levin.
So there you have it: The Defense Department says in little-reported news last week that barely one battalion of Iraqis have been trained to fight alone. And less than a week later, the president goes into a nationally-televised press conference and either shows incredible stupidity or just flat-out lies.
You decide which it is.