Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Fact Check On Bush Press Conference

From Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's office, we get a fact-check on some of the statements made by George W. Bush in his press conference yesterday:

Bush Stands by His Escalation Plan. "The reinforcement we sent to Baghdad are having an impact, they're making a difference. And as more of those re-enforcements arrive in the months ahead, their impact will continue to grow." [Remarks, 4/3/07]

Fact: His "Surge" Isn't Working:
  • U.S. Troops Dedicated to the President's Surge: 28,829
  • U.S. Servicemembers Killed Since the Surge Began: 172
  • U.S. Troops Wounded Since the Surge Began: 1035
  • Iraqi Military and Police Killed Since February: 352
  • Multiple Fatality Bombings Since February: 96
  • Number Killed in Multiple Fatality Bombings: 1242
  • Number Wounded in Multiple Fatality Bombings: 2744
  • Iraqis Kidnapped: 30-40 per day nationwide (under-reported)
  • Estimated Insurgency Strength Nationwide: ~70,000 (Sunni Only)
  • Attacks on Iraqi Oil and Gas Pipelines and Installations since February: 13
  • Average Weekly Attacks on Coalition Forces: 756
[Source: Brookings Iraq Index, updated 3/29/07]

President Bush Tries to Put Congress on His Timeline. "It has now been 57 days since I requested that Congress pass emergency funds for our troops. Instead of passing clean bills that fund our troops on the front lines, the House and Senate have spent this time debating bills that undercut the troops." [Remarks, 4/3/07]

Fact: President Bush Is Manufacturing a Time Crunch. Past supplemental bills worked their way through Republican-led Congresses on slower timelines.

President Bush Tries to Shift Blame to Congress. "The bottom line is this, Congress's failure to fund our troops on the front line also mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines. And others can see their loved ones headed back to the war sooner than they need to." [Remarks, 4/3/07]

Fact: President Bush's Flawed Iraq Policies Undercut the Troops and Strain the Military:
  • General Schoomaker says President Bush's surge is eroding military readiness. "Outgoing Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker said yesterday that the increase of 17,500 Army combat troops in Iraq represents only the 'tip of the iceberg' and will potentially require thousands of additional support troops and trainers, as well as equipment -- further eroding the Army's readiness to respond to other world contingencies." (Washington Post, 2/16/07)
  • Bush's surge plan has sent troops into battle that "are too injured to wear their body armor". "As the military scrambles to pour more soldiers into Iraq, a unit of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga., is deploying troops with serious injuries and other medical problems, including GIs who doctors have said are medically unfit for battle. Some are too injured to wear their body armor, according to medical records… The injured soldiers interviewed by Salon, however, expressed considerable worry about going to Iraq with physical deficits because it could endanger them or their fellow soldiers. Some were injured on previous combat tours. Some of their ills are painful conditions from training accidents or, among relatively older troops, degenerative problems like back injuries or blown-out knees. Some of the soldiers have been in the Army for decades." (, 3/12/07)
  • Bush's Baghdad security plan is sending troops back to Iraq without a year of rest. "For just the second time since the war began, the Army is sending large units back to Iraq without giving them at least a year at home, defense officials said Monday. The move signaled how stretched the U.S. fighting force has become. A combat brigade from New York and a Texas headquarters unit will return to Iraq this summer in order to maintain through August the military buildup President Bush announced earlier this year. Overall, the Pentagon announced, 7,000 troops will be going to Iraq in the coming months as part of the effort to keep 20 brigades in the country to help bolster the Baghdad security plan. A brigade is roughly 3,000 soldiers." (Washington Post, 4/2/07)
  • Army and Marine Corps officials say Bush's rapid pace of troop of rotation is forcing the military into a "death spiral." "More troubling, the officials say, is that it will take years for the Army and Marine Corps to recover from what some officials privately have called a 'death spiral,' in which the ever more rapid pace of war-zone rotations has consumed 40 percent of their total gear, wearied troops and left no time to train to fight anything other than the insurgencies now at hand. The risk to the nation is serious and deepening, senior officers warn, because the U.S. military now lacks a large strategic reserve of ground troops ready to respond quickly and decisively to potential foreign crises, whether the internal collapse of Pakistan, a conflict with Iran or an outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula. Air and naval power can only go so far in compensating for infantry, artillery and other land forces, they said. An immediate concern is that critical Army overseas equipment stocks for use in another conflict have been depleted by the recent troop increases in Iraq, they said." (Washington Post, 3/19/07)
  • Bush's deployment schedule is forcing the military to cut corners in order to add troops. "Soldiers of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division had so little time between deployments to Iraq they had to cram more than a year's worth of training into four months. Some had only a few days to learn how to fire their new rifles before they deployed to Iraq -- for the third time -- last month. They had no access to the heavily armored vehicles they will be using in Iraq, so they trained on a handful of old military trucks instead. And some soldiers were assigned to the brigade so late that they had no time to train in the United States at all. Instead of the yearlong training recommended prior to deployment, they prepared for war during the two weeks they spent in Kuwait, en route to Anbar, Iraq's deadliest province." (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/4/07)
  • Multiple tours mandated by Bush are causing officers to quit military careers. "The Army, already stretched thin from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, attributes the accelerated promotion rates to the pressures of war and the urgent need for field commanders. Another reason for the vacancies, military analysts say: unit leaders are quitting the Army faster than anticipated -- after multiple tours of duty in Iraq. The shortage of captains, majors, and lieutenant colonels is especially pronounced among experienced officers who have between five and 15 years in uniform, according to Army officials." (Boston Globe, 3/13/07 )
Bush Claims His Priority Is Protecting America from Terrorism. "We spend a lot of time trying to protect this country. But if they were ever to have safe haven it would make the efforts much harder. We cannot let them have safe. That's my point. The lesson of September 11th is, if these killers are able to find safe haven in which to plot, plan and attack, they will do so. So that I don't know what methodology they'll use. We're planning for the worst. We cover all fronts." [Remarks, 4/3/07]

Fact: Under Bush's Watch, Al Qaeda Is Resurgent and Under New Leadership. "As Al Qaeda rebuilds in Pakistan's tribal areas, a new generation of leaders has emerged under Osama bin Laden to cement control over the network's operations, according to American intelligence and counterterrorism officials. The new leaders rose from within the organization after the death or capture of the operatives that built Al Qaeda before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, leading to surprise and dismay within United States intelligence agencies about the group's ability to rebound from an American-led offensive." (New York Times, 4/2/07)

Bush Accuses Congress of Trying to "Micromanage" the War. "When I announced that I will veto a bill with -- that withdrew our troops, that set artificial timetables to withdraw or micromanage the war the Republicans strongly supported that message." [Remarks, 4/3/07]

Fact: The Secretary of Defense Says Congressional Debate Has Been Helpful. Gates: "I'd make two comments Mr. Cramer. First, what I said at the Army caucus breakfast was that I believe that the debate here on the Hill and the issues that have been raised have been helpful in bringing pressure to bear on the Maliki government and on the Iraqis in knowing that there is a very real limit to American patience in this entire enterprise." [House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, 3/30/07]

Fact: The Bush Administration's Micromanagement of the War Is Responsible for Many of Today's Troubles in Iraq.
  • Against the advice of military experts, the Bush Administration demobilized the entire Iraqi army in May of 2003. According to a number of top Iraqi leaders and U.S. officials and experts, that decision was one of the gravest mistakes made in Iraq reconstruction; it not only undermined efforts to establish order and secure Iraq's borders, it also effectively alienated hundreds of thousands of former Iraqi soldiers from the U.S.-led reconstruction effort. In the resulting security vacuum, insurgents were able to regroup and sectarian militias were able to form, while decommissioned soldiers became easy fodder for anti-government forces. (Washington Post, 11/20/03; Thomas Ricks, Fiasco , 2006)
  • In spite of warnings from the intelligence community, the Bush Administration failed to take action to prevent the emergence of an Iraqi insurgency. Relying on their assertions that the U.S.-led Coalition would be greeted as liberators in Iraq, the President and senior Administration officials largely dismissed repeated warnings made by the CIA and the National Intelligence Council in early 2003 about the threat of an Iraqi insurgency developing in response to the U.S.-led invasion. As a result, the Administration failed to take the steps necessary to prevent the emergence and, later on, the growth of a powerful Iraqi insurgency which, more than three and a half years later, continues to undermine security and stability in Iraq and poses a real threat to its newly formed government. (USA Today, 10/24/04; Thomas Ricks, Fiasco, 2006)