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Think Progress still doesn’t get it (update)
Posted by: McQ on Friday, September 07, 2007

In a post entitled "New Twist In Saga Over ‘Petraeus Report’: There Will Be No Report", Think Progress says (while faithfully plugging the Durbin characterization):
In the latest twist to the ongoing saga over the Petraeus White House report, a senior military official tells the Washington Times today that there will actually be no report at all:
A senior military officer said there will be no written presentation to the president on security and stability in Iraq. “There is no report. It is an assessment provided by them by testimony,” the officer said.

The only hard copy will be Gen. Petraeus’ opening statement to Congress, scheduled for Monday, along with any charts he will use in explaining the results of the troop surge in Baghdad over the past several months.
To recap, first the public was incorrectly led to believe that Gen. David Petraeus would issue his own report about the situation on the ground in Iraq. Then the Los Angeles Times reported that the so-called “Petraeus report” would “actually be written by the White House.”
Hello!? Where have you freakin' people been? This all became common knowledge quite some time ago. Heck we even wrote a post on August 27th explaining it for those who still didn't understand the point. There isn't a "Petraeus Report". There never was a "Petraeus report".

Yet we have "progressive" blogs which still haven't figured that out.

Must not have been included in the talking points email I guess. Hey, Think Progress ... Google is your friend.

UPDATE: Another one lost in space.

UPDATE II: There's always a third one:
And by the way McQ, a lot of us wrote about this last week but everyone was on vacation so nobody read them. Or is the idea that no one is allowed an opinion if you've already expressed one to your own satisfaction?
Uh, no Libby ... you're welcome to express your opinion. It does help credibility though if it is an informed opinion. If you think John Cole's post is the ultimate word on the subject, that tells me just about all I need to know about how informed your opinion is.

UPDATE III: Cole's in a tizzy:
Apparently I am "lost in space" because I am a little chagrined that we have no way to document what Petraeus is telling the White House. I am well aware that the WH is actually writing the report- I want to know what Petraeus tells the WH, what the WH writes in their report, and what Petraeus tells Congress. You know- that whole accuracy thing, because never in the history of the Bush administration have they been told one thing privately and said something completely different publicly. Apparently to our authoritarian 'libertarian' friends, that makes me crazy. Or something. I have decided that "neo-libertarian" means taking whatever the President says at face value- provided he cuts taxes.
Apparently John still isn't aware of the requirements within the law passed by the Democratic Congress which require the President to prepare the report and the general to appear before Congress and give testimony in both "open and closed sessions".

Now, I'd assume he'd be able to, you know, take what Petraeus testifies to in open session and compare it to what shows up in the report required by law from the President.

Or is that too much to ask?

And, sorry John, but you can try the "authoritarian libertarian friends" bit until you cramp a finger, but all that remains is a red herring.

This has nothing to do with what the president or anyone in the administration says ... this is the procedure and the reports the Democratic Congress passed into law.
(A) The President shall submit an initial report, in classified and unclassified format, to the Congress, not later than July 15, 2007, assessing the status of each of the specific benchmarks established above, and declaring, in his judgment, whether satisfactory progress toward meeting these benchmarks is, or is not, being achieved.

(B) The President, having consulted with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Commander, Multi-National Forces-Iraq, the United States Ambassador to Iraq, and the Commander of U.S. Central Command, will prepare the report and submit the report to Congress.

[...]

(D) The President shall submit a second report to the Congress, not later than September 15, 2007, following the same procedures and criteria outlined above.
And:
(3) Testimony before congress.—Prior to the submission of the President’s second report on September 15, 2007, and at a time to be agreed upon by the leadership of the Congress and the Administration, the United States Ambassador to Iraq and the Commander, Multi-National Forces Iraq will be made available to testify in open and closed sessions before the relevant committees of the Congress.
The law is the Supplemental Appropriations Law (Public Law 110-28, "U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans’ Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007") which funds the war in Iraq. Why not look it up? The appropriate section is 1314.
Why don't our libertarian friends understand that this is my money we are spending in Iraq? These are my fellow citizens dying in Iraq. This is my military, our military. Not Bush's. I not only have every right to know what is going on, I demand it. Since when did government accountability and transparency become anathema to libertarian principles?
The strawmen are on parade today aren't they?

Transparency?

Again, the Democratic Congress, in their "oversight" capacity have mandated - got that? - mandated by law that the President prepare the report and the general and ambassador give testimony before Congress prior to that report being rendered.

Congress never mandated or required a 'report' from Petraeus. They mandated he return and testify ... which he will do.

Other than all of it, what part of that don't you understand? That is the supposed "transparency" the Congress built into the process. If you don't like it, take it up with them.

As for the military, yes, we agree ... and the head of the effort there will be giving the mandated testimony required next week. Is that a problem for you? Isn't that transparant enough? What would you suggest instead?

Whatever it is, don't send it to me, send it to the Democratic leadership in Congress, because what is about to happen is their desire.
 
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The legal parsing from your "explanation" aside, you’re saying that the man whose surge plan is coming under scrutiny doesn’t have to bring his homework in.

He can say anything he wants to Congress, as can the White House, without any supporting documentation to back up his "facts". Maybe you could "explain", in your inimtable fashion, how any of this has any credibility stacked against the previous four years of garbage coming out of the Pentagon and White House.

Oh, and I’m particularly intrigued by the insinuation that the Gen. Petraeus isn’t legally obligated to write anything down beore testifying to Congress. So, I guess there aren’t any records of American or Iraqi fatalities, current assessments of the reconstruction, the number of troops deployed and its sustainability. You know, stuff we could check.
 
Written By: Officious Pedant
URL: http://
The legal parsing from your "explanation" aside, you’re saying that the man whose surge plan is coming under scrutiny doesn’t have to bring his homework in.
Good grief.

What would you call open (and closed) testimony before Congress?
He can say anything he wants to Congress, as can the White House, without any supporting documentation to back up his "facts". Maybe you could "explain", in your inimtable fashion, how any of this has any credibility stacked against the previous four years of garbage coming out of the Pentagon and White House.
Yes, he can say the sky is green and he’ll get away with it won’t he?

Or is your problem that he might say positive things and you have nothing really to refute them with, especially given the recent number of those on the left who’ve gone to Iraq and also agreed progress is being made?
Oh, and I’m particularly intrigued by the insinuation that the Gen. Petraeus isn’t legally obligated to write anything down beore testifying to Congress.
Are you? Somehow that doesn’t surprise me particularly.

Tell me, is anyone else "legally obligated" to "write down" something before testifying? Or are we simply going to attempt to insinuate that is the case in an attempt to imply Petraeus is trying to skirt such a requirement?
So, I guess there aren’t any records of American or Iraqi fatalities, current assessments of the reconstruction, the number of troops deployed and its sustainability. You know, stuff we could check.
I’m sure there are. And I’m sure the testimony will be poured over with a fine tooth comb, don’t you? Or do you assume otherwise? If you do, you must be from a different political universe than the one that is extant here and now in this country.

 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
John Cole’s reasoning facilities seems to have degraded proportionally to the mess he let his comments descend to.

Since he let his comments section become the septic tank for every two bit leftie and "truther", his general posts has come to reflect the confusing morass therein.
 
Written By: capt joe on the road
URL: http://
John Cole’s been the straight Andrew Sullivan for a while now... and is just about as coherent. I could write off Sully’s to AIDS induced dementia; still haven’t figured out what’s wrong with Cole.
 
Written By: SDN
URL: http://
Yeah, because when you’re talking about life and death, and billions of dollars, shooting from the hip is the new informed commentary.

It’s funny that you would go to the "He wouldn’t say the sky is purple, because that could be disproven." Particularly when he could say just about anything with regard to what’s going on in Iraq, from flowers and candy to "it’s a hard road, but we are making progress, from "we’ll have 80 battalions" to "our new training regiment is showing real signs of success, and he doesn’t have to account for any of it. And the White House certainly doesn’t have any reason to massage the numbers, or suppress failures of leadership either in Iraq or here at home.

No, if we just take them at their word, why, we’ll we educated as to the realities on the ground by stand up folks with our best interests at heart. That’s a mighty outpouring of trust for government with so much on the line. For a censervative, I mean.
 
Written By: Officious Pedant
URL: http://
Yes, he can say the sky is green and he’ll get away with it won’t he?

Probably not, but he CAN point to specific Baghdad neighborhoods and tell congress that killings are way down there, and get away with it, even though he has left out the information that killings are way down in those neighborhoods because they have been ethnically cleansed and there’s no one left to kill, or to intimidate into leaving.

Oh, and btw, since you dislike strawmen arguments, I thought I’d point out that "Yes, he can say the sky is green and he’ll get away with it" is that.
 
Written By: Kathy
URL: http://libertystreetusa.blogspot.com/
John Cole’s been the straight Andrew Sullivan for a while now... and is just about as coherent. I could write off Sully’s to AIDS induced dementia; still haven’t figured out what’s wrong with Cole.

You stay classy, San Diego.

And what the Pedant said.
 
Written By: John Cole
URL: http://www.balloon-juice.com
Yes, he can say the sky is green and he’ll get away with it won’t he?
No, because a) pretty much everyone has direct access to firsthand information about the color of the sky, which b) is the same for everyone at any given point in any given place.

Which...good lord, do I really need to point this out? I guess so, or you wouldn’t have made such a silly analogy...is emphatically not the case when it comes to Iraq. Because a) very few of us have firsthand information that would bear on Petraeus’ testimony, and b) the complexity of the situation is such that different people will see entirely different things.
 
Written By: Tom Hilton
URL: http://tehipitetom.blogspot.com
Oh God, not this again.

Who cares what the opponents of the war say, or what the law says, what is critical here is what the White House has said: "Petraeus Report" over and over. To the effect that Bush borrows the authority of Petraeus. The WH is once again shown to be systematically dishonest.

Since Petraeus has been caught fudging the numbers already, this whole issue is not even that relevant anymore. It is a shame to see the Brass playing a political role, though. The gambit almost worked because Petraeus has such a worthy reputation.
 
Written By: Xenos
URL: http://
Oh, and btw, since you dislike strawmen arguments, I thought I’d point out that "Yes, he can say the sky is green and he’ll get away with it" is that.
Actually to most with median or better intelligence, Kathy, that’s sarcasm.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Yeah, because when you’re talking about life and death, and billions of dollars, shooting from the hip is the new informed commentary.
Ah, gravity. Now that we’ve given the situation the proper gravity, let’s proceed shall we?

What in the world do you think he’ll be talking about? And what makes you think he’ll be shooting from the hip. I know he’s going to use charts. And I’m sure he’ll have notes. What he’s not required to do, and apparently this hasn’t sunk in yet, is submit a report.
It’s funny that you would go to the "He wouldn’t say the sky is purple, because that could be disproven." Particularly when he could say just about anything with regard to what’s going on in Iraq, from flowers and candy to "it’s a hard road, but we are making progress, from "we’ll have 80 battalions" to "our new training regiment is showing real signs of success, and he doesn’t have to account for any of it. And the White House certainly doesn’t have any reason to massage the numbers, or suppress failures of leadership either in Iraq or here at home.
So, it really doesn’t matter what he says as far is you’re concerned, does it. Notes or no notes, report or no report, what he say has absolutely no bearing on what you’ll conclude (excuse me, I meant what you’ve already concluded).
No, if we just take them at their word, why, we’ll we educated as to the realities on the ground by stand up folks with our best interests at heart. That’s a mighty outpouring of trust for government with so much on the line. For a censervative, I mean.
Like I said, prove him wrong if you can. But have the intellectual curiosity and honesty to at least give what he says a fair hearing. Is that too much to ask?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
No, because a) pretty much everyone has direct access to firsthand information about the color of the sky, which b) is the same for everyone at any given point in any given place.
Is it a requirement at Balloon Juice that you be immune to sarcasm to read the posts there?

That was the freaking point for heaven sake ... he’s not going to get away with saying things that can be proven to be not true. Thus the rhetorical "Yes, he can say the sky is green and he’ll get away with it won’t he?"

Almost any fool would answer "no" and know why.

I know, I know, way too nuanced for this particular group of drive-bys. Like I said, "almost."
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Oh God, not this again.
Do yourself and your self-esteem a favor and don’t try this again, ok?

You embarrassed yourself enough last time you tried.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Actually to most with median or better intelligence, Kathy, that’s sarcasm.

Oh, so I can take that as your acknowledgment that there isn’t any legitimate analogy, even a deliberately exaggerated analogy, between Gen. Petraeus’s chances of getting away with saying the sky is green, and his chances of getting away with saying violence in Iraq is way down and "the surge" is making Iraq safer and more secure?
 
Written By: Kathy
URL: http://libertystreetusa.blogspot.com/
And what makes you think he’ll be shooting from the hip. I know he’s going to use charts. And I’m sure he’ll have notes. What he’s not required to do, and apparently this hasn’t sunk in yet, is submit a report.

Dear McQ:

Have you ever had to write a research paper or a persuasive essay? Charts and notes are not proof. They’re not even evidence. A written report with cites to independent documentation of claims made is evidence, if not proof.

That’s why we funny progressives take on so much about the White House announcing that nothing will be in writing. Because if nothing is in writing, there’s no accountability.

Very truly yours,

Kathy
 
Written By: Kathy
URL: http://libertystreetusa.blogspot.com/
Good lord...is it a requirement that wingnut bloggers be incapable of reading and interpreting even the simplest text?
That was the freaking point for heaven sake ... he’s not going to get away with saying things that can be proven to be not true.
Yes, obviously. Despite your willfully obtuse misreading of several posts here, it’s pretty clear that everyone understood that was the point you were trying to make.

And the point I went on to make (which apparently sailed right past you) is that the question of ’progress’ in Iraq bears no resemblance whatsoever to the color of the sky. Someone watching Petraeus’ testimony on television can’t look out the window and see that he’s fudging the casualty figures, or omitting damaging information, or trying to pass off relative calm in one location (*cough*Anbar*cough*) as progress in Iraq as a whole. What’s more, even people with firsthand knowledge of the situation aren’t necessarily in a prove or disprove the truth of any general assertion about the war.

Seriously: world’s dumbest analogy.
 
Written By: Tom Hilton
URL: http://tehipitetom.blogspot.com
That’s "in a position to prove or disprove..."
 
Written By: Tom Hilton
URL: http://tehipitetom.blogspot.com
SDN -
John Cole’s been the straight Andrew Sullivan for a while now... and is just about as coherent. I could write off Sully’s to AIDS induced dementia; still haven’t figured out what’s wrong with Cole.
Wow.
-=-=-=-=-=-
Let me see if I can faithfully reproduce the argument of our guests:

* The White House’s report cannot be trusted. Their history of spin and other deception means that the report won’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.

I can understand this argument. I certainly wouldn’t expect anyone to take anything at face value. But the Democrat-controlled Congress did request it anyway as part of its "Iraq Accountability" measure.

* Petraeus, who is required to testify before the relevant committees in Congress in open and closed sessions, cannot be held accountable if he deceives Congress about the facts on the ground in Iraq, because he will not have to deliver a full written report.

I would submit, again, that this was explicitly what the Democrat-controlled Congress asked for. Petraeus and the ambassador will both testify, some of their materials will be available — and yes, Kathy, even in research papers, charts and graphs are often used as evidence. They may not be compelling evidence all on their own, but they are evidence. They present information, as text does, and they are often sourced, as text is.

I would also submit as fact that Petraeus has spoken to the media and has published his beliefs and doctrine for all to see. He will be as open to accountability as ever after his testimony to the relevant committees of the Democrat-controlled Congress. If you don’t believe this is true, I’m all ears as to why.
-=-=-=-=-=-=-
As for this "color of the sky" thing: the original claim was that Petraeus could say whatever he wanted to Congress without providing any documentation. McQ responded by saying that Petraeus couldn’t just say anything. If he says something to the Democrat-controlled Congress and has nothing to back it up, he can be called on it. If the published material (charts, notes, etc.) isn’t sourced, he can be called on that, and if it deals with a subject that’s already being studied by someone else, it can be verified even if it’s not sourced.

I understand that the objection is this:
If he doesn’t have to submit a full report in writing to the public, the accountability will be incomplete. While Congress may get a crack at him, and we can question the veracity of the White House report, we the public can’t verify every part of Petraeus’ argument using the other sources that we consider trustworthy, and thereby spread the word of anything he says that we don’t agree with.
Ergo, the Democrat-controlled Congress made a mistake by not requiring a written report by Petraeus himself, because it is Petraeus’ credibility that Bush must ride on if he’s going to keep the war going longer.


Is that about right?
 
Written By: Bryan Pick
URL: http://www.qando.net
Interesting how a lot of people are busily constructing a belief framework that will allow them to ignore what Petraeus says.

Also a lot of folks seem to think that writing something down on paper gives it some magical strength that saying it in front of congress just doesn’t. Or is it the fact that he is not writing a report what gives the written word a magical power the spoken word does not?

There will be transcripts from the hearing. Hopefully changing his spoken word to written word will ease their minds.
 
Written By: TJIT
URL: http://
This is the single most partisan thing I have seen of seven contentious years of blogging. Now, apparently, the plain reading of a law passed by Congress and on the record is a partisan issue.

I mean, holy cow, Juan and Pedant, do you think that loud argument can change the law Congress passed months ago or something? Why should I ever trust anything you say if you can’t even agree that Congress passed a certain law and the laws says this certain thing? If you consider this "up for debate", what other plain and obvious facts do you consider "up for debate"?
 
Written By: Jeremy Bowers
URL: http://www.jerf.org/iri
Poor dem’s nobody ever tells them the truth!! They sit in their offices waiting for the experts to tell them what is going on. They sit and they sit making decisions solely based on charts and graphs from the white house lackeys. They were deceived into war by the white house lackeys. They are deceived into passing funding for the war by white house lackeys. They stump on positions formed by white house lackeys! I know for sure that my congressman takes everything the white house says on good faith. He then contemplates fervently and comes to the best decision he can with the information the white house gives him. He would never sit back and attack decisions for political hay! My politician is being deceived by the white house lackeys. I love my democrat senator he speaks "TRUTH TO POWER" I will vote for him forever!! anyone who disagrees can just go kick your strawman! DId i dO goOd?

By the way how is the webster doing? Not enough women in politics to beat on (to bad)! Looooooooser.

To prove I am a democraat I have inserted the following phrases. Power to the Peepohll!! Give it up for JC (Jimma Cartah that is).
 
Written By: coaster
URL: http://
Officious Pedant said
He can say anything he wants to Congress, as can the White House, without any supporting documentation to back up his "facts".
So what kind of magic documentation do you think would make his facts believable?

Do you understand that the same person delivering the report would also sign off on or provide the written testimony and documentation you are asking for?

Furthermore, the democrats in congress have

1. The majority
2. Oversight power

Don’t you think they have the resources to verify / disprove what is said in the congressional testimony?
 
Written By: TJIT
URL: http://
This is really amazing. I mean, I kind of agree with John Cole’s basic premise — there should have been a requirement that Petraeus’ report be in writing. That would have been the smart thing to do. The point is that the law didn’t do this. It’s amazing too that someone actually had the gall to criticize McQ for "legal parsing" of a LAW.

And honestly, is anyone really surprised that Congress failed to fully appreciate the effect of its law in the medium-to-long term? Could this be part of the reason that people like me and McQ are skeptical of the power of law to solve problems in the medium-to-long term?
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://www.myelectionanalysis.com
Why did Congress pass the law like it is?

Maybe they want to get the General to dispute the WH report during testimony and get a "gotcha" moment? I mean, they will be using that as their guide to question him, right?

Plus testimony is far better than any report. They can ask him anything they want. If he had a written report, he’s just say "look at page 8." and could be done. They want serious TV time.

I think it is completely insane for these people to claim that they are upset that they are not getting a "Petraeus Report" even when it was the Dems who passed the law. Plus the transcripts of his testimony where the Dems can ask him whatever they like - isn’t that good enough.

But you know what, I don’t think the Dems would like an actual Petraeus Report available in PDF format for downloading and excerpting. No, they want to control the report by using the testimony format where they can get just enough soundbites to cover their hineys.
 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
This is a crystal clear example of why the dems do not deserve a single vote for the rest of the decade.

"We demand you deliver a report about the evil quagmire for oil in September."

One surge later:

"YOU LYING BUSH STOOGE THIS REPORT CAN’T BE REAL IT’S TOO POSITIVE! RRRRRRRG"

Yes, the white house wrote the report. The military works for our government. I forgot to be surprised by that.

The funniest part, our leftists guests seem to have forgotten this prize from their own congress:

"Not trusting the military, Congressional Democrats set up an independent panel led by retired Marine 4-star James Jones to issue a pre-emptive report on progress in Iraq, to blunt the impact of any good news from Gen. David Petraeus.
The Gen. Jones panel reported today: The Surge is working!"

The socialist weasels are willing to call a member of our (active) military a liar, before they have even bothered to hear what he has to say, because they already know in reality that it will not be a copy of their sickening talking points. They then hire a retired general to deliver a more "nuanced" (wrong) report, and are disappointed by the truth a second time! Anything other that doom and gloom in Iraq is just intolerable to the anti-war peace creeps.

It must be so hard to be a leftist nowadays. It’s like spitting into the wind, the way they have to try and bend reality to match their lies. It must be disheartening to be betrayed by actual facts all the time. That’s why I don’t consider myself a democrat anymore, I have nothing in common with the morons who dominate the party.
 
Written By: jows
URL: http://
It must be so hard to be a leftist nowadays. It’s like spitting into the wind, the way they have to try and bend reality to match their lies.
Jows, where I come from it is called pissing into the wind and that is a far more appropriate analogy.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Jows, where I come from it is called pissing into the wind and that is a far more appropriate analogy.
And to complete the analogy, when they get wet as a result, they claim they intended to take a shower all along.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
And to complete the analogy, when they get wet as a result, they claim they intended to take a shower all along.
Yellow stains and all!
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
It’s amazing too that someone actually had the gall to criticize McQ for "legal parsing" of a LAW.

——

Wait, he’ll have a response when Sullivan posts it.
 
Written By: RW
URL: http://

 
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