Tony Snow – Blogger Teleconference
White House Press Secretary Tony Snow and Brett McGurk, Director for Iraq, National Security Council held a teleconference with invited bloggers this afternoon on the topic President Bush’s speech tonight on the way forward in Iraq. Following is a summary, not a transcription, of major points unless indicated by use of quotation marks.
Snow provided a “cook’s tour” of the plan:
- 1. Essential to succeed in Iraq.
2. What we’ve done so far hasn’t worked.
- 1. Security – especially Baghdad and Anbar– topic concerns.
2. Iraqis in lead in security, economics, and politics.
3. Iraqis don’t currently have capacity to do themselves.
4. Isolate extremists and enable those on sidelines to choose government.
- Debaathifation reform. Allow teachers and others who were mere card-holders in Baath party to go back to work.
- Diversity efforts to provincial level beyond Baghdad and Anbar to help build up court system and other institutions and infrastructure.
NZ Bear, Truth Laid Bear: To what degree can Congress stop?
Snow: Legal question beyond expertise. Also presumes Congress would attempt, which we hope they won’t. It’s just part of a supplemental spending package.
Eric Errickson, RedState: Falling back on defensive posture vice offense?
Snow: ROE’s are being changed to prevent politicians from foiling missions. No restrictions (?!). No safe haven for any militias operating outside the law. Do more to ensure Iraqi forces have necessary equipment.
McGurk: More Marines into Anbar to consolidate recent gains.
Lorie Byrd: Will President spend any time setting record straight on perception mission a total disaster?
Snow: President shares your frustration. Only 3 of 18 provinces substantially violent. Still, the public perception is what it is. Hopefully, outlining clear steps to victory will help regain public confidence.
John Hawkins, Right Wing News: CNN reporting that total security responsibility will be shifted to Iraqis by November?
Snow: Yes. This is Maliki’s benchmark and his plan. We’re working with them to build better professionalism, discipline, and experience in their forces.
Rob Bluey, Human Events: How to deal with Congressional Democrats?
Snow: We want full and healthy debate.
Austin Bay: How much are we getting non-DoD agencies on board to do their part in helping win neighborhoods.
Snow: I don’t have that level of detail but we’re working to do just that.
McGurk: Provision Reconstruction Teams embedded with military. 400 more federal civilians outside Green Zone, replicating success in Mosul.
Steve Shippard(?): Are we doing anything to shore up Iranian and Syrian border security?
Snow: We’re “being deliberately vague” on this. The President is not going to talk tonight in detail about border security but he’ll mention the issue. Iran is a longer term threat.
Mark Danziger, Winds of Change: European press talking about Iraqi oil law.
Snow: “I’m not even going to fake it. Brent?”
McGurk: Central ownership of revenues with distribution as per constitution the key. It’s come a long way. “Iraqis are going to have to close the deal.”
Rosemary Esmay, Dean’s World: Why letting the press downplay our successes?
Snow: “Trust me, it’s not a matter of ‘letting.'” “It’s the unusual and the gory that attracts the most attention,” not just among journalists but readers.
I wasn’t able to get through to ask a question but sent a couple of follow-up questions in by email:
- Tony said ROE’s are being changed to prevent politicians from foiling missions and that there would be “no restrictions.” What does that mean, exactly? Surely, there will still be civilian control of the military?
- Are we seriously preventing teachers from working four years into this? Anyone who has read a book about post-WWII occupation–or, hell, seen the Patton movie sequel–would have known that lower level bureaucrats with party affiliations are simply essential to the success of the government.
More if I get a response.
UPDATE: None has been forthcoming and it’s been 18 hours.