I caught this exchange in Wednesday’s gaggle but it has been simmering in the back of my mind ever since.
Q Just very, very briefly, on Iraq, now the President in the long remarks that he made in the Rose Garden — or you here have mentioned one of the most salient facts about the violence in Iraq: It’s sectarian. It’s Sunnis killing Shia. Why didn’t the President talk about that? Many people think the country is on the verge of civil war. And what’s the President’s read on the sectarian nature of the violence in Iraq right now?
MR. McCLELLAN: It’s terrorists killing Iraqis. It’s terrorists attacking innocent civilians.
Q So you just don’t recognize the sectarian nature of it?
MR. McCLELLAN: No. It’s the terrorists that want to take Iraq into civil war. That’s what their goal is. They want to bring chaos into this country. But the Iraqi people have shown them every step of the way that they are determined to build a free and democratic future. And that’s why they’ve continued to move forward on the political process. And the President has said as they move forward on building a lasting democracy, the terrorists will continue to seek to carry out their violence and become more desperate. And we can expect that there will be more violence as the Iraqi people move forward on securing their freedom and democracy.
There was a time when I would have said Scottie is just spinning here, surely the Bush Assministration is aware of the fact that they have a civil war on their hands in Iraq and many of the victims of Iraqi violence are not what Scottie calls “innocent civilians”.
But given their track record, I think it is possible that they believe all Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence is “terrorists killing Iraqis”.
Which is frightening, as that would indicate that they really haven’t the faintest idea what is happening on the ground in Iraq.