Snow: Things Were ‘Going Okay’ In Iraq A Year Ago, No One Anticipated ‘Eruption Of Sectarian Violence’

In today’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow argued that the “picture” in Iraq “constantly changes,” and that while the future looks bleak now, a year ago “Democrats and Republicans both coming back from the region saying, you know, we think things are going okay.” He added that no one anticipated the “eruption of sectarian violence.” Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/01/snowiraqv.320.240.flv]

The administration has repeatedly tried to claim that Feb. 2006 — when Sunni extremists blew up the Shiia Golden Mosque of Samarra — was the start of sectarian violence in Iraq. While sectarian warfare did skyrocket after that incident, the situation was not “going okay” before that point:

— “The numbers of car bombs, suicide car bombs and roadside bombs all doubled from 2004 to 2005.”

— In 2005, there were more U.S. casualties in Iraq (846) than there were in 2006 (821).

— On Feb. 27, 2005, Knight Ridder quoted then-Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Sabah Kadhim warning about sectarian violence, “It’s the beginning, and we could go down the slippery slope very quickly. … Both sides are sharpening their knives.”

— On Sept. 26, 2005, CBS News reported that “there is an undeclared civil war already underway in Iraq, between the Sunni minority who ruled this country under Saddam and the Shiite majority.”


QUESTION: Two questions on public perceptions. Are you saying that four years into this war, the American people don’t have an accurate picture of what’s going on in Iraq?

TONY SNOW: I think, Wendell, four years into a war, the picture constantly changes. The picture that we saw in April of 2003 was different than the one we saw a year ago. If you think a year ago, Wendell, there was considerable optimism, Democrats and Republicans both coming back from the region saying, you know, we think things are going okay. We’ve had the election. They did not anticipate the, I guess, eruption of sectarian violence.