October 15, 2005
Bush's Teleconference: the Actual Q&A
In the comments section of an earlier post, AP Response to Bush Teleconference Staged!, I asked, “and what WERE the questions and the answers?” All we have heard from the MSM is speculation about whether the TV conference between President Bush and the toops was "staged," meaning scripted; but we have heard nothing about the conference itself. What did the president and the soldiers say? Does anybody know?
After some digging, I found a transcript. As I read it, I understood why the AP had to divert our attention to the trivial non-issue: once again, the MSM is determined to hide "good news from Iraq."
Since they're not going to tell, here are the actual questions and the answers, with commentary.
The ten American soldiers and one Iraqi soldier who participated in this conference are stationed in Tikrit, overseeing the security of the constitutional referendum vote. The purpose of this conference was for President Bush to learn how ready the Coalition and Iraqi security forces were to ensure security during the election.
After President Bush gave a short speech about how important it is for us to stay the course and bring democracy to Iraq, he began asking questions about pre-election operations: what Coalition forces had been doing, what their strategy was, and what was their assessment of Iraqi Army readiness.
Captain Brent Kennedy, who is responsible for coordinating the security response in the area of operation, responded:
Good morning, Mr. President, from Tikrit. I'm Captain Brent Kennedy. To my right is Sergeant Major Akeel from the 5th Iraqi Army Division. We're working together here with the Iraqis in Task Force Liberty for the upcoming referendum. We're surging an operation, called Operation Saratoga, that includes the securing of over 1,250 polling sites. We're working right alongside with the Iraqis as they lead the way in securing these sites.
Captain Dave Smith added that Iraqi forces have been "conducting battalion and brigade-size operations since April." The local Iraqi military themselves coordinated with other Iraqi forces, such as police and local government agencies, Smith added; the Coalition forces took only a supporting role.
When President Bush asked them to assess the security forces’ readiness, Captain Steven Pratt responded:
The Iraqi army and police services, along with coalition support, have conducted many and multiple exercises and rehearsals. Recently we've conducted a command post exercise in which we brought together these Iraqi security forces with emergency service units, and the joint coordination center, in which we all sat around a model and discussed what each one would do at their specific location and what they would do at the referendum.
It was impressive to me to see the cooperation and the communication that took place among the Iraqi forces. Along with the coalition's backing them, we'll have a very successful and effective referendum vote.
Captain David Williams said that voter registration in North-Central Iraq was up 17 percent. “That’s 400,000 new voters in North-Central Iraq, and 100,000 new voters in the al-Salahuddin province.” He said. Captain Williams said that he spoke to his Iraqi counterpart, who told him the Tikrit locals were “ready and eager to vote in this referendum.”
Considering the extremely high turnout for this election (66%), and the extraordinarily low rate of successful violent attacks by the terrorists, it's clear that the information that Bush got from these soldiers was quite accurate on all counts: they and the Iraqis had done a very good job of securing the polling places... and the Iraqis (even the Sunni) were definitely "ready and eager to vote."
Master Sergeant Corine Lombardo reminded the President that she met him in New York, on November 11th, 2001, at Ground Zero, when he recognized the Rainbow Soldiers -- the 42nd Infantry (Rainbow) Division of the Army National Guard. Bush took the opportunity put the soldiers at ease with a bit of ribbing, saying "I thought you looked familiar."
SERGEANT LOMBARDO: Well, thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: I probably look familiar to you, too.
Sergeant Lombardo praised the improvement in the Iraqi forces over the past 10 months.
We've been working side-by-side, training and equipping 18 Iraqi army battalions [in the Tikrit area]. Since we began our partnership, they have improved greatly, and they continue to develop and grow into sustainable forces. Over the next month, we anticipate seeing at least one-third of those Iraqi forces conducting independent operations.
Coalition forces have captured over 50 terrorists and detained thousands, she added.
Then President asked the only Iraqi participant in the conference, Sergeant Major Akeel, whether he had anything to add:
SERGEANT AKEEL: Good morning, Mr. President. Thank you for everything. Thank very much for everything.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, you're welcome.
SERGEANT AKEEL: I like you. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I appreciate that.
Finally, First Lieutenant Gregg summed up the situation. I can't improve on his words:
Back in January, when we were preparing for that election, we had to lead the way. We set up the coordination, we made the plan. We're really happy to see, during the preparation for this one, sir, they're doing everything. They're making the plans, they're calling each other, they've got it laid out. So on Saturday, sir, we're going to be beside them, we're going to be there to support them through anything. But we can't wait to share in their success with them on Sunday.
In closing, the commander-in-chief thanked the troops -- not only his own, but the Iraqis as well:
I wish I could be there to see you face-to-face, to thank you personally. It's probably a little early for me to go to Tikrit, but one of these days perhaps the situation will be such that I'll be able to get back to Iraq to not only thank our troops, but to thank those brave Iraqis who are standing strong in the face of these foreign fighters and these radicals that are trying to stop the march of freedom.
Finally, as for what kind of “rehearsal” and “staging” went on before the conference, you should read the account of Sergeant Ron Long of Tennesse who was actually there at the conference.
[W]e were told that we would be speaking with the President of the United States, our Commander-in-Chief, President Bush, so I believe that it would have been totally irresponsible for us NOT to prepare some ideas, facts or comments that we wanted to share with the President.
The MSM knows very well that everyone rehearses before a live TV interview, and this was no exception. Participants had to know who would speak when, who would answer which questions, and practice passing the microphone to avoid "strangling" their neighbors with the microphone cord. They practiced speaking out loudly and clearly, both to be audible to the mikes and also to relieve the anxiety of junior officers and non-coms speaking directly to the commander-in-chief.
But that was as far as it went; nobody has managed to find any example of the White House scripting the soldiers' answers or changing what they wanted to say. It is terribly irresponsible of the mainstream media to hint at some sort of administration conspiracy, particularly by using inuendo and ambiguous phrasing. If that is what the Associated Press and the Washington Post want to charge, they should just do so straightforwardly... if they have any actual evidence, that is.
Hatched by Sachi on this day, October 15, 2005, at the time of 8:17 PM
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Tracked on October 15, 2005 10:51 PM
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Tracked on October 17, 2005 7:23 PM
» Soldiers' Answers Weren't Scripted from Big Lizards
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Tracked on October 19, 2005 5:19 PM
The following hissed in response by: Huntress
I posted this in response to comments made by some people in the original thread on "Stagegate" but it bears repeating here as well:
**A portion of this comment was deleted for duplicate post. Please refer the original to the link above.***
Todays events in Iraq were not scripted...and that's THE event the MSM and left wing liberals should be talking about!
The above hissed in response by: Huntress at October 15, 2005 8:36 PM
The following hissed in response by: RBMN
Anytime members of the American military are prevented from stuttering, stammering, and looking foolish in front of a TV camera, it's very disappointing for the MSM. We understand.
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