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Exclusive: Hillary Blasts Bush on Military Readiness, Revisionist History

By Faiz Shakir  

"Exclusive: Hillary Blasts Bush on Military Readiness, Revisionist History"

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Today, ThinkProgress sat down for an interview with Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) after she delivered an address at the Center for American Progress Action Fund on the U.S. military’s readiness crisis. We’ll be featuring clips from the interview today and tomorrow.

We asked her to comment on this quote attacking President Clinton from then-candidate George W. Bush in 2000:

So let’s get something straight right now. To point out that our military has been overextended, taken for granted and neglected, that’s no criticism of the military. That is criticism of a president and vice president and their record of neglect. [CNN, 11/3/00]

“Bingo!” Clinton responded. “It wasn’t true when he said it, but it sure is true now. [Bush] has in a very deliberative way created conditions that are straining our military, underfunding it with respect to what actually gets to troops on the ground and what they get when they get home.” Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/03/hillaryclinton1.320.240.flv]

In 2000, Bush claimed there were two Army divisions “not ready for combat.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer fact-checked Bush’s attacks on the Clinton administration. It reported:

Every unit in those two divisions, down to nine-man squads, was in fact ready for combat, division officers said. Had war broken out somewhere, they were ready to go. But Army regulations require any division with units deployed away from home be reported as not combat ready.

Maj. Thomas Collins, an Army spokesman, said at the time: “All 10 Army divisions are combat-ready, fully able to meet their war-fighting mission.”

In contrast, the U.S. Army’s preparedness for war today “has eroded to levels not witnessed by our country in decades.” Virtually all of the U.S.-based Army combat brigades are “rated as unready to deploy,” Army officials say, and a recent Pentagon survey found that troops in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from chronic shortages of armored vehicles, heavy weapons, and communications equipment.

Digg It!

Transcript:

THINKPROGRESS: Thank you for doing this.

The first question I have is related to the state of our military readiness, which is of course in a very terrible condition, as you talked about today. I wanted to read to you a quote from President Bush in 2000 — this was a quote when he was a candidate — candidate Bush. And I’ll get your reaction to it. Here’s the quote: “So let’s get something straight right now. To point out that our military has been overextended, taken for granted and neglected, that’s no criticism of the military. That is criticism of a president and vice president and their record of neglect.”

What’s your response to that as you hear that now?

CLINTON: Well, bingo! You know it wasn’t true when he said it, but it sure is true now. It has in a very deliberative way created conditions that are straining our military, underfunding it with respect to what actually gets to troops on the ground and what they get when they get home. Yet the Defense budget is half a trillion dollars. And there just is no excuse for the priorities of this administration.

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