In the past week, top Bush administration officials have been suggesting that insurgents in Iraq are increasing attacks in order to influence the U.S. midterm elections. Some highlights —
Vice President Cheney, 10/17/06:
I was reading something today that a writer — I don’t remember who — was speculating on increased terrorist attacks in Iraq attempting to demoralize the American people as we get up to the election. And when I read that, it made sense to me. And I interpreted this as that the terrorists are actually involved and want to involve themselves in our electoral process, which must mean they want a change.
President Bush, 10/18/06:
There’s certainly a stepped up level of violence, and we’re heading into an election. … They are trying to not only kill American troops, but they’re trying to foment sectarian violence. They [Al Qaeda] believe that if they can create enough chaos, the American people will grow sick and tired of the Iraqi effort and will cause government to withdraw.
White House Press Secretary Tony Snow, 10/19/06:
[I]t is possible, although we don’t have a clear pathway into the minds of terrorists, it is possible that they are trying to use violence right now as a way of influencing the elections.
But these claims are completely without any basis in reality. Yesterday on ABC This Week, President Bush admitted to host George Stephanopoulos, “I don’t have any intelligence that says that” insurgents in Iraq are trying to influence the election. Watch it:
Full transcript below:
STEPHANOPOULOS: And for the first time the President acknowledged parallels to Vietnam. It came when I asked for his response to ‘New York Times” columnist Tom Friedman’s contention that we’re now seeing an Iraqi version of the Vietcong’s 1968 Tet offensive that turned American public opinion decisively against the war.
BUSH: He could be right. There’s certainly a stepped up level of violence and we’re heading into an election.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So they’re trying to influence the elections?
BUSH: It could be. I don’t know. I haven’t – I don’t have any intelligence that says that.