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Biden: Reid Should Not Apologize For Pace Remarks

By Satyam Khanna

"Biden: Reid Should Not Apologize For Pace Remarks"

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In a conference call with bloggers last week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) criticized outgoing Joint Chiefs Chairman Peter Pace for his “incompetent” management of the Iraq war and was subsequently attacked by members of Congress as well as the White House for his remarks.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) released a statement charging that Reid’s remarks were “incredibly disappointing” and “highly inappropriate.” White House spokesperson Tony Snow called Reid’s remarks “outrageous” and stated, “I certainly hope he does apologize.”

Today on ABC’s This Week, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joe Biden (D-DE) said that Reid owes no apology to Pace. Biden asserted that Reid’s remarks were directed at Pace’s involvement in President Bush’s “abject failure” of policy in Iraq:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Did Senator Reid slander the generals, and does he owe them an apology?

BIDEN: No and no. The fact of the matter is, this policy, the president’s policy, is an abject failure. It continues to be a failure. There continues to be denial about the progress that is not being made.

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/06/bidddreid.320.240.flv]

Indeed, Pace has made several high-profile missteps during his service as Joint Chiefs Chairman. Pace previously refused to refer to Iraq as a civil war, contradicting the assessments of the Pentagon and intelligence community, and has heaped praise on former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Pace also controversially justified the military’s ban on openly gay servicemembers by claiming that “homosexual acts between individuals are immoral.”

A spokesperson for Reid has dismissed Snow’s calls for an apology: “This is coming from the same guy that said yesterday that increased violence in Iraq was a sign of success. Americans are looking for candor about the situation in Iraq.”

Transcript:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Reid this week said that General Pace, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is incompetent, and General Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, appears out of touch and not giving the straight story in Iraq.

That provoked a reaction from the White House. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow suggesting Senator Reid needs to apologize, and also said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In a time of war, for a leader of a party that says it supports the military, it seems outrageous to be issuing slanders toward the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and also the man who is responsible for the bulk of military operations in Iraq.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Did Senator Reid slander the generals, and does he owe them an apology?

BIDEN: No and no. The fact of the matter is, this policy, the president’s policy, is an abject failure. It continues to be a failure. There continues to be denial about the progress that is not being made. And maybe it could have been more artfully stated.

I’ve made mistakes myself in how I’ve phrased things, but the bottom line is, this is a failure, this policy, and I think it might have been better to direct it at the president’s policy, but nonetheless, the truth is the truth. This is a failure, this policy.

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