Hell, we’re stuck with Dana Peroxide again today.
Did You Know That The “Coalition” Does Not Include The United States Of America?
MS. PERINO: One number you might want is, since 2003, 143,336 cumulative coalition troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Q Served in all of these — in Iraq and Afghanistan?
MS. PERINO: Cumulative coalition troops, right.
Q From how many countries?
MS. PERINO: I know it’s around 30 nations now, but I think at one time it was up to —
Q Just in Iraq?
MS. PERINO: I think it’s Iraq and — I think it’s total, Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ll get — Bill Luti is on the flight from NSC, and he gave me that number, so I’ll see if I can get those two numbers for you. And then —
Q That number doesn’t jibe — there’s more than 150,000 U.S. troops at some point —
MS. PERINO: These are coalition — this doesn’t include American forces.
Q Not including.
MS. PERINO: Correct.
Q Non-American —
MS. PERINO: These are non-U.S.
Once Again, Dana Fails To Explain Away The “Mission Accomplished” Speech
Q Is there any, shall we say, reluctance on the President’s part to actually go through the veto today, being that it’s the fourth anniversary of the “mission accomplished” banner, his speech —
MS. PERINO: Obviously, that is — even thought the Democrats won’t say so on the record, it is a trumped-up political stunt that is the height of cynicism and it’s very disturbing to think that they possibly held up this money for the troops and the troops’ families and the resources they need to try some PR stunt on this day.
The President realizes that today is the fourth anniversary of the day he gave a speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln. As I said last Thursday in the briefing, that speech has been widely misconstrued, and I encourage people to go back and read it. The President did say we had a long and difficult road ahead of us. We’re moving from a dictatorship to democracy.
But in addition to that, the President has since said that we did not anticipate the amount of sectarian violence that would happen in the year of 2006, especially fomented by al Qaeda with the Samarra mosque bombing in February of 2006. The President said where there have been mistakes, those mistakes — that responsibility for those mistakes rests with him.
Q Does the President — does the President regret the “mission accomplished” speech?
MS. PERINO: Look, I’ve never heard him describe it that way, absolutely not. Let me just remind everybody, in case you need it, that speech there, I encourage people to read it. The President never said “mission accomplished.” I realize that the banner said “mission accomplished.” That was specific to the mission of that ship. They were supposed to be deployed for six months. They were deployed well beyond that. I think they’d gone to both Iraq and Afghanistan. And that’s what that banner was referring to. But I’m not going to —
Q He did said, “In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed.”
MS. PERINO: We did prevail, in terms of toppling the Iraqi army and Saddam Hussein. And several months later, 12 million Iraqis voted for a new government and a constitution. And things looked very promising. And the President did believe that at the end of 2006, he would be announcing basically what was in the Baker-Hamilton report.