"Senior Bush Official: ‘No Trend’ Showing Escalation Is Working"
On Tuesday, President Bush gave a speech claiming the Iraq escalation is showing “encouraging signs” of progress. But in today’s Washington Post, a senior Bush administration official acknowledges that “right now there is no trend” showing the escalation is working.
Moreover, officials say the information Bush presented to back up his rosy claims was skewed or flat-out false. A fact check:
President Bush: “General Petraeus recently arrived in the Iraqi capital, and the plan he is executing is in its early stages. … Yet even at this early hour, there are some encouraging signs.”
FACT: “Sectarian attacks in Baghdad are down at the moment, but the deaths of Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops have increased outside the capital. … If violence is down in Baghdad, analysts said, it is likely because the Shiite militias operating there are waiting out the buildup in U.S. troops, nearly all of whom are being deployed in the capital. At the same time, Sunni insurgents have escalated their operations elsewhere.”
President Bush: “Iraq’s Council of Ministers recently agreed on legislation they will submit to their parliament on the development of Iraq’s oil resources and the sharing of revenues.”
FACT: “Though Iraqi leaders have agreed on a new framework law for oil resources, the details of how the oil revenue will be divided among competing Iraqi groups remain unresolved.”
President Bush: “The Iraqi government has completed the deployment of three additional Iraqi Army brigades to the capital. They said they were going to employ three brigades, and they did.”
FACT: “A senior U.S. military official in Baghdad said this week that two Iraqi brigades and one battalion of a third have arrived in Baghdad.”
President Bush: “Iraqi and U.S. forces have rounded up more than 700 people affiliated with Shia extremists.”
FACT: “Bush’s report…appears to have little to do with the new strategy. The number is ‘based on captures…since July 2006,’ the military official said. Bush first reported the same roundup — citing 600 captures — last fall.”
On the same day President Bush gave his speech last week, suicide bombers and gunmen attacked Shiite religious pilgrims, “killing at least 130 people in one of the deadliest days of the four-year war.”