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McCain doubles down on his surge timeline confusion.

Yesterday evening, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) denied that he was wrong in claiming the “surge” policy in Iraq “began the Anbar Awakening.” Pressed by a reporter, McCain argued that the “surge” actually began before more troops were added to Iraq:

McCAIN: First of all, a surge is really a counterinsurgency strategy. And its made up of a number of components. And this counterinsurgency was initiated to some degree by Col. McFarland in Anbar province relatively on his own. When I visited with him in December 2006, he had already initiated that strategy in Ramadi by going in and clearing and holding in certain places. […]

Q: So when you say ‘surge’ then, you’re not referring to just the one that President Bush initiated. You’re saying it goes back several months before that?

McCAIN: Yes.

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But McCain has previously admitted that the surge only entailed the increase in troop levels. “We have drawn down to pre-surge levels,” he said in May. “Was he saying ‘We are drawing back down to where we were before Colonel McFarland started using counterinsurgency tactics in Anbar as part of the Anbar Awakening.’ No, that is completely and patently absurd,” Ilan Goldenberg writes.