More Media Bait and Switch: Let’s Send Additional Troops to Iraq Instead of Withdrawal

December 6th, 2006 2:37 PM

It’s almost becoming a daily occurrence now, isn’t it? Another major media outlet has confirmed that all the pre-election blather concerning a withdrawal of American troops from Iraq if Democrats took over Congress was just another part of that Party’s elaborate bait and switch scheme. This time on its knees in the confessional was Newsweek (hat tip to NB member “aero”), and none other than two of its crack investigative reporters, Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball (emphasis mine throughout):

In a surprise twist in the debate over Iraq, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, the soon-to-be chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said he wants to see an increase of 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops as part of a stepped up effort to “dismantle the militias.”

Excuse me? Wasn’t this man appointed by incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi who went around the country promising voters that troops would be withdrawn from Iraq if Democrats won and she became Speaker? Are you kidding me? Shouldn’t this evoke tremendous anger from the writers at Newsweek? Au contraire:

The soft-spoken Texas Democrat was an early opponent of the Iraq war and voted against the October 2002 resolution authorizing President Bush to invade that country. That dovish record got prominently cited last week when Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi chose Reyes as the new head of the intelligence panel.

But in an interview with NEWSWEEK on Tuesday, Reyes pointedly distanced himself from many of his Democratic colleagues who have called for fixed timetables for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Coming on the eve of tomorrow’s recommendations from the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton commission, Reyes’s comments were immediately cited by some Iraq war analysts as fresh evidence that the intense debate over U.S. policy may be more fluid than many have expected.

Amazing, huh? But it gets better:

We’re not going to have stability in Iraq until we eliminate those militias, those private armies,” Reyes said. “We have to consider the need for additional troops to be in Iraq, to take out the militias and stabilize Iraq … We certainly can’t leave Iraq and run the risk that it becomes [like] Afghanistan” was before the 2001 invasion by the United States.

Reyes also stressed that there needed to be greater “political accountability” demanded of the Iraqi government. But on the core issue of the U.S. commitment, Reyes—a Vietnam War veteran who partially lost his hearing in that conflict—even compared his position to that of another Vietnam vet, Sen. John McCain, a staunch supporter of the Iraq war. Like Reyes, McCain also has called for an increase in U.S. troop strength. When asked how many additional troops he envisioned sending to Iraq, Reyes replied: “I would say 20,000 to 30,000—for the specific purpose of making sure those militias are dismantled, working in concert with the Iraqi military.”

Unbelievable. But it gets even better:

When a reporter suggested that was not a position that was likely to be popular with many House Democrats, Reyes replied: “Well again, I differ in that I don’t want Iraq to become the next Afghanistan. We could not allow Iraq to become a safe haven for Al Qaeda, for Hamas, for Hizbullah, or anybody else. We cannot allow Iran or Syria to have a free hand in there to further destabilize the Middle East.”

Hmmm. He almost sounds like President Bush, doesn’t he? But there was more:

Reyes added that he was “very clear” about his position to Pelosi when she chose him over two rivals—Rep. Jane Harman of California and Rep. Alcee Hastings—to head the critical intelligence post. One widely cited reason that Harman, a moderate Democrat who supported the war, didn’t get the nod from Pelosi is that the Speaker-designate wanted somebody who would be more aggressive in standing up to the Bush White House—which Reyes promises to be on other issues like domestic wiretapping and CIA secret prisons.

But when asked what he told Pelosi about his thinking on Iraq, Reyes replied: “What I said was, we can’t afford to leave there. And anybody who says, we are going pull out our troops immediately, is being dishonest … We’re all interested in getting out of Iraq. That’s a common goal. How we do it, I think, is the tough part. There are those that say, they don’t care what Iraq looks like once we leave there. Let’s just leave there. And I argue against that. I don’t think that’s responsible. And I think it plays right into the hands of Syria and Iran.”

Absolutely extraordinary. Now, just imagine if Newsweek, or any other media outlet would have done some investigative reporting before the elections, and had informed the public that this would be the position of the incoming new chairman of the House Intelligence Committee picked by Nancy Pelosi. Might that have impacted the votes of folks whose primary motivation was to get the troops home? After all, 29 percent of voters on November 7 claimed that they wanted all troops withdrawn. Of these, 82 percent voted for Democrats. Might this have been different if the media would have told the truth rather than participated in this immoral bait and switch?

How disgraceful.