CNN's Ware Warns of Bush 'Smoke and Mirrors' Meant to Provoke 'Pavlovian' Response
Appearing from Baghdad on Tuesday's Situation Room to discuss the new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), CNN correspondent Michael Ware strayed from reporting into opinion-making as he rued “the smoke and mirrors from the administration” trying to make Iraq about al Qaeda to invoke a “Pavlovian response from the American public.” He also mocked General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for lacking the knowledge to see a “sea change” in better security.
In the segment aired near the top of the 5pm EDT hour, and re-run during the 7pm EDT hour of The Situation Room, anchor Wolf Blitzer relayed how the NIE “suggests that al Qaeda is seeking to leverage al Qaeda in Iraq for attacks against U.S. targets outside of the Iraq.” In a lengthy response, Ware cautioned: “We must be aware of the spin -- the smoke and mirrors from the administration, trying to reshape the message on Iraq being specifically about al Qaeda, America's lingering, most familiar fear, trying to invoke some Pavlovian response from the American public, to fear them into again supporting the war.” As for Pace, Ware was dismissive: “I think the General, unfortunately, is suffering from the luxury of distance. And I think he's expecting far too much to be able to peer through the U.S. bubble of protection in which he operates in his brief fleeting visit to Iraq.”
Back in April, Ware had undermined a liberal talking point as he painted al Qaeda in Iraq as a real threat. An April 26 NewsBusters posting by Rich Noyes, “CNN's Ware: Pullout Debate 'Delusional,' Would Hand Iraq to Qaeda,” recounted:
Left-wing blogs loved it when CNN's Michael Ware rebuked Senator John McCain a few weeks ago, after McCain suggested he could safely walk through areas of Baghdad. But on Thursday's American Morning on CNN, Ware took dead aim at Democratic schemes for pulling out of Iraq, saying that debating a U.S. troop withdrawal was "delusional" and such a step would amount to "giving Iraq to Iran...and al Qaeda. That's who would own it."
Ware also provided an interesting insight into how the battle in Iraq has shifted from Anbar province and Baghdad, areas where the U.S. has built up troop levels, to Diyala province, which he described as "the new frontline against al Qaeda." Apparently Ware has no doubt that al Qaeda has made Iraq a central front in their battle against the U.S., and that the U.S. pulling out would hand al Qaeda a huge victory.....The April 27 MRC CyberAlert version of the above NB item includes a video clip.
Ware: “If U.S. troops leave now, you're giving Iraq to Iran, a member of President Bush's 'Axis of Evil,' and al Qaeda. That's who will own it. And so, coming back now, I'm struck by the nature of the debate on Capitol Hill, how delusional it is. Whether you're for this war, or against it; whether you've supported the way it's been executed, or not; it doesn't matter. You've broke it, you've got to fix it now. You can't leave, or it's going to come and blow back on America.”
A transcript from about 5:04 EDT during the July 17 edition of The Situation Room on CNN, corrected against the video of what aired, a segment re-run during the 7pm EDT hour:
WOLF BLITZER: So is the terror report telling Iraqis anything they don't know already? Who better to ask that than our man on the ground in Baghdad. And joining us now our correspondent in Baghdad, Michael Ware. Michael, among other things, this National Intelligence Estimate report suggests that al Qaeda is seeking to leverage al Qaeda in Iraq for attacks against U.S. targets outside of the Iraq. Now, you've actually reported on this extensively. You've met with al Qaeda operatives inside of Iraq. Is that your assessment as well?
MICHAEL WARE, IN IRAQ: Well, let me say this first, Wolf. I mean that statement in the NIE is about three years too late. The fact that al Qaeda has reorganized itself through the war in Iraq that America handed it on a silver platter in its own backyard, that the war here through al Qaeda in Iraq has energized the Jihadi community across the globe, that it has produced a whole new generation of Jihadis -- bolder, more brazen and more brutal and more committed, if that's at all possible, than the generation before it, is old news. We saw that happen back in 2004. Since then, we've seen it nothing but flourish.
The question now is will an attack directly launched from al Qaeda in Iraq against U.S. homeland? Now many of us were saying back in 2004/2005 if, heaven forbid, there's another 9/11 in America, then of the next 19 hijackers, I'll almost guarantee one of them will be Iraqi. And at least part of the plot will have been hatched here in Iraq.
That being said, while we're seeing the Iraq veterans -- these guy who come into a six month tour or a 12 month tour in Iraq, blood themselves against American forces and go home, they're creating a whole new momentum back in their homelands, be it here in the Middle East, be it in the Gulf, North Africa or be it back in Europe. That being said, also, the true danger of the al Qaeda in Iraq is the template or the model it offers. We've seen these bombings in the U.K. Now, these guys never came to Iraq. But as they said themselves, they were inspired by the war here.
Now in the midst of all of this, despite this material, this evidence, we must be aware of the spin -- the smoke and mirrors from the administration, trying to reshape the message on Iraq being specifically about al Qaeda, America's lingering, most familiar fear, trying to invoke some Pavlovian response from the American public, to fear them into again supporting the war. That doesn't quite hold water. Wolf.
BLITZER: The outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Peter Pace, is there right now. He says in the past 24 hours or so he's been there, he's seen -- in his words -- a sea change, a sea change in the security situation. A very optimistic assessment. Is that possible? You've been there for four years. You haven't just been there for 24 hours. Do you agree with him that there's been this dramatic sea change of improvement?
WARE: Well, with the greatest of respect to General Peter Pace, I mean, I think the General, unfortunately, is suffering from the luxury of distance. And I think he's expecting far too much to be able to peer through the U.S. bubble of protection in which he operates in his brief fleeting visit to Iraq. I mean his briefings would be in the Green Zone. They would be in formidable American forward operating bases. I know he had a few hours' trip out to Ramadi. Again, he would have been in the embrace of the U.S. military's daunting protection. You're really not getting a feel for the true situation on the ground.
Is he right about a sea change? Yes and no. In al-Anbar Province, where he visited, yes, there's been a sea change. Attacks against U.S. forces by al Qaeda directed or led organizations have dropped from as much as 80 attacks a day to just 77 attacks two days ago.
But why is that? It's because the military put pressure on al Qaeda, sure. The real answer is that America subcontracted out the fight against al Qaeda to the Baathist insurgents and the tribes. So he doesn't really tell us why that sea change occurred. Is there a sea change in Baghdad? Well, if he's seeing one, I'm afraid I'm not. And maybe you can see it from the Green Zone, but you can't see it out here in the red zone where Iraqis live. Wolf.