Politics

CNN: Military Sources Respond To McCain’s Escalation Remark With ‘Laughter Down The Line’

Yesterday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) told radio host Bill Bennett that President Bush’s escalation is working. “There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today,” he said. Today, when CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked McCain why Americans still aren’t able to safely leave the Green Zone in Iraq, the senator replied that Blitzer was giving three-month-old talking points:

General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in an unarmed humvee. I think you oughta catch up. You are giving the old line of three months ago. I understand it. We certainly don’t get it through the filter of some of the media.

But according to CNN reporter Michael Ware, who has been in Iraq for four years, McCain is “way off base.” He stated, “To suggest that there’s any neighborhood in this city where an American can walk freely is beyond ludicrous. I’d love Sen. McCain to tell me where that neighborhood is and he and I can go for a stroll.”

Ware also rebutted McCain’s assertion that Petaeus travels in an unarmed humvee: “[I]n the hour since Sen. McCain’s said this, I’ve spoken to military sources and there was laughter down the line. I mean, certainly the general travels in a humvee. There’s multiple humvees around it, heavily armed.” Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/03/mccainsafe1.320.240.flv]

(Crooks and Liars has more.)

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Transcript:

BLITZER: Sen. John McCain suggests that is crackdown is already working. I asked him about that in the last hour.

[BLITZER CLIP]: Here’s what you told Bill Bennett on his radio show on Monday. “There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today. The U.S. is beginning to succeed in Iraq.”

Everything we hear if you leave the so-called Green Zone, the international zone, and you go outside of that secure area, relatively speaking, you’re in trouble if you’re an American.

[McCAIN CLIP]: That’s where you ought to catch up on things, Wolf. General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in an unarmed humvee. I think you oughta catch up. You are giving the old line of three months ago. I understand it. We certainly don’t get it through the filter of some of the media. But I know for a fact that much of the success we’re experiencing, including the ability of Americans in many parts. Not all, we have a long, long way to go. We’ve only got two of the five brigades here to go into some neighborhoods in Baghdad in a secure fashion.

BLIZTER: Sen. John McCain, a Republican presidential candidate speaking here in The Situation Room within the past hour. Let’s go live to Baghdad right now. CNN’s Michael Ware is standing by. Michael, you’ve been there for four years, you’re walking around Baghdad on a daily basis. Has there been this improvement that Sen. McCain is speaking about?

WARE: Well, I’d certainly like to bring Sen. McCain up to speed if he ever gives me the opportunity. And if I have any difficulty hearing you right now Wolf, that’s because of the helicopters circling overhead and the gun battle that is blazing away just a few blocks down the road. Is Baghdad any safer? Sectarian violence, one particular type of violence, is down. But none of the American generals here on the ground have anything like Sen. McCain’s confidence. I mean, Sen. McCain’s credibility now on Iraq, which has been so solid to this point, is now being left out hanging to dry. To suggest that there’s any neighborhood in this city where an American can walk freely is beyond ludicrous. I’d love Sen. McCain to tell me where that neighborhood is and he and I can go for a stroll.

And to think that Gen. David Petraeus travels this city in an unarmed humvee? I mean, in the hour since Sen. McCain’s said this, I’ve spoken to military sources and there was laughter down the line. I mean, certainly the general travels in a humvee. There’s multiple humvees around it, heavily armed. There’s attack helicopters, predator drones, sniper teams, all sorts of layers of protection. So, no, Sen. McCain is way off base on this one.