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Thursday, September 30, 2004

Those Cockeyed Optimists 

No wonder Bush, Cheney, et al got so riled up when Kerry criticized Iyad Allawi's State of Iraq speech to Congress last week. It turns out that they wrote most of it themselves:
White House spokesman Scott McClellan, asked Tuesday about similarities between Bush's statements about Iraq and Allawi's speech to Congress last week, said he did not know of any help U.S. officials gave with the speech. "None that I know of," he said, adding, "No one at the White House." He also said he did not know if the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad had seen the speech.

But administration officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the prime minister was coached and aided by the U.S. government, its allies and friends of the administration. Among them was Dan Senor, former spokesman for the CPA who has more recently represented the Bush campaign in media appearances. Senor, who has denied writing the speech, sent Allawi recommended phrases. He also helped Allawi rehearse in New York last week, officials said. Senor declined to comment.

The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and British Foreign Service officials also helped Allawi with the text and delivery of his remarks, said administration officials who were involved.
The White House, you will recall, excoriated Kerry for impugning the "credibility" of Allawi's optimistic report. Since then, facts on the ground have joined Kerry in impugning Allawi's credibility still further. And the Bush administration has responded swiftly and decisively to this latest challenge by moving to suppress any mention of facts on the ground:
The Bush administration, battling negative perceptions of the Iraq war, is sending Iraqi Americans to deliver what the Pentagon calls "good news" about Iraq to U.S. military bases, and has curtailed distribution of reports showing increasing violence in that country . . . .

USAID said this week that it will restrict distribution of reports by contractor Kroll Security International showing that the number of daily attacks by insurgents in Iraq has increased. On Monday, a day after The Washington Post published a front-page story saying that "the Kroll reports suggest a broad and intensifying campaign of insurgent violence," a USAID official sent an e-mail to congressional aides stating: "This is the last Kroll report to come in. After the WPost story, they shut it down in order to regroup. I'll let you know when it restarts."

Asked about the Kroll reports yesterday, USAID spokesman Jeffrey Grieco said, "The agency has restricted its circulation to those contractors and grantees who continue to work in Iraq." He said that the reports were given to congressional officials who sought them, but that the information will now be "restricted to those who need it for security planning in Iraq." An agency official said the decision was unrelated to the Post story and was based on a fear that the reports "would fall into insurgents' hands" . . . .

[The new "good news"] presentations are "designed to be uplifting accounts with good news messages." Rumsfeld's office, which will pay for the tour, recommends that the installations seek local news coverage, noting that "these events and presentations are positive public relations opportunities."
Just in time, too, since some recent photo ops have generated less in the way of positive public relations than the administration might have hoped:
Three bombs exploded at a neighborhood celebration Thursday in western Baghdad, killing 35 children and seven adults, officials said. Hours earlier, a suicide car bomb killed a U.S. soldier and two Iraqis on the capital's outskirts.

The bombs in Baghdad's al-Amel neighborhood caused the largest death toll of children in any insurgent attack since the conflict in Iraq (news - web sites) began 17 months ago. The children, who were still on school vacation, said they had been drawn to the scene by American soldiers handing out candy.

The blasts — at least two of which were car bombs — went off in swift succession about 1 p.m., killing 42 people and wounding 141 others, including 10 U.S. soldiers. The bombs targeted a ceremony in which residents were celebrating the opening of a new sewage system, and a U.S. convoy was passing by at the same time, said Interior Ministry spokesman Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman.

"The Americans called us, they told us, 'Come here, come here,' asking us if we wanted sweets. We went beside them, then a car exploded," said 12-year-old Abdel Rahman Dawoud, lying naked in a hospital bed with shrapnel embedded all over his body.
We are nonetheless certain that if there is a silver lining to be found in the above story, Messrs. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Allawi are just the gentlemen to find it.

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