Monday, October 16, 2006

Tony Snow -- does he know how to read?

Today, White House Press Secretary Tony "Foxy" Snow was asked about a recent interview with Iraqi President Al-Maliki by the USA Today. From the White House transcript of Snow's press conference:

Q He [Al-Maliki] also has said in USA Today, though -- you say you're on the same page, in terms of fighting the militias -- Maliki told the USA Today that his government will not force militias to disarm until later this year or early next year, despite the violence.

MR. SNOW: What's interesting is that's the lead of the piece and I've read the interview now three times and it's not in there.
* * *
I read the piece, too, and maybe they -- they published a transcript, and the transcript seems to indicate that the Prime Minister is actively engaged in the issue of militias. And there is no mention -- maybe I'm missing it here, but I've read it three times -- of saying that he's not going to force militias to disarm until later this year or early next year. As a matter of fact, he says he's in the process of doing it now.

Jeez, three times? Maybe the USA Today really did make a mistake. Then again -- maybe Snow can't read (from the USA Today transcript):

The problem of militias, in countries throughout the world, requires time. The most important thing is that we have started and started strong. We have given a clear message: Militias should reconsider their existence. ... The more success we have on the political side will help us deal with this issue. The initial date we've set for disbanding the militias is the end of this year or the beginning of next year.

So, just to recap: press secretary Snow read the interview with Maliki three times, failed to catch the key takeaway point in Maliki's speech, then lied about Maliki's promises to the American people (via the claim that Maliki "said he's in the process" of disarming now). Impressive.


Incidentally, I know that the reporter said "disarm" and that Maliki said "disband," and that the two terms are not necessarily synonymous. If you read the entire Maliki transcript, however, it's clear that when the USA Today asked about "disbanding" the militias, it did so in the context of -- and here I'm quoting Maliki directly -- "(CPA) Order 91 that deals with disbanding militias. We have formed a committee to work on disbanding militias and give them a deadline by which they have to lay down their arms. " It's obvious to me, and to USA Today, and to anyone who has not been lobotomized, that Maliki was using the two terms interchangeably.


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