Tony Farto Is Throwing Out The Rose-Colored Glasses
Q Also, how does this latest violence in Iraq and the latest uncertainty about what’s going on color the Petraeus-Crocker testimony this time around? It obviously has changed the equation. I mean, weeks ago it looked like the surge was — you know, had this pretty rosy cast, and now with all this renewed violence, I think it has changed the dynamics. So how has this changed the equation?
MR. FRATTO: Well, I think we’ve thrown out all of the rose-colored glasses in how we look at Iraq, and try to look at it through clear lenses as to what is actually going on in the country. And what is happening there, I think what we are all seeing is that the Iraqi political leadership is trying to take hold of the security for their country. They took a very bold, aggressive action in Basra. It wasn’t a overall success, but it — but we learned a lot about what the capabilities of the Iraqi army are, and we learned a lot — and maybe this is even the most important thing — of what the capabilities and intentions of the Iraqi leadership are to go after criminal elements and illegal militias in their country, and to evenly enforce the rule of law across the country.
Ah, The Two Most Beautiful Words In The English Language: “Yes, Helen”
MR. FRATTO: Yes, Helen.
Q You acted like the President wouldn’t know what Petraeus and Crocker are going to testify. Do you mean he’s going to be surprised tomorrow —
MR. FRATTO: No, I hope I didn’t leave —
Q — when they say the surge is working and all?
MR. FRATTO: No, I hope I didn’t leave that impression.
Q But he’s the President, isn’t he calling the policy? I mean, we don’t have President Petraeus, do we? We have President —
MR. FRATTO: No, we don’t. We have commander Petraeus, who is running the operations on the ground in Iraq and he’s closest to the military operations. He knows the capabilities of his forces, the coalition forces, and what the Iraqi security forces can do, and has a good sense of what’s needed to complete his mission. And it’s a mission that he designed. So we want to look forward to his testimony and hear how he thinks it’s going and what the requirements are to complete that mission for the remainder of the year.
Q What is the mission?
MR. FRATTO: Well, it’s pretty clear, says to bring — is to bring —
Q Are you asking — to continue the occupation of Iraq?
MR. FRATTO: — security in Iraq, sufficient security, so that the political leadership can continue to make gains.
Now, we know that it’s a — the reduction of violence is fragile and it’s reversible, but we like the trend and we like what the Iraqi political leadership has shown about their ability to take action.
Q And paying off 90,000 Iraqis not to fight?
MR. FRATTO: Kathleen.
Shorter Farto: Muqtada Loves Us!
Q Tony, we asked earlier, and I wonder if you had any clarification on this, if the President would be meeting directly with Petraeus and Crocker when they’re here. Will he be watching their testimony? And is the administration also at all concerned about this massive protest that Muqtada al-Sadr has called for Wednesday in Baghdad, and the juxtaposition of those images with what Petraeus and Crocker will be saying?
MR. FRATTO: It’s interesting timing.
The gathering in Baghdad, I think it’s — I mean, it is an interesting coincidence at the same time that the two officials are testifying in Congress. But I think it’s a reminder of what that day actually is, which is the fifth-year anniversary of the fall of Baghdad and the defeat of the Saddamist Iraqi army and the Iraqi Revolutionary Guard in that country. So it is an important date for the residents of Baghdad to recognize that that was a day —
Q Protesting against the American presence is what he’s calling for the protestors —
MR. FRATTO: Well, I know that the Sadrists are doing that, and the reason they picked that date was the day that the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein was defeated in Baghdad. And that’s important to keep in mind.
Q Do you think it takes any of the steam, though, out of what Petraeus and Crocker will be saying when you see those images juxtaposed?
MR. FRATTO: No, I don’t think so. I mean, it’s — look, every — like I said, we threw out the rose-colored glasses. I think we have a very clear-eyed view of what’s happening in Baghdad.
Les Hates The ChiComs Almost As Much As He Hates The Gays
Q And secondly, while the President was overseas, The Washington Post published an editorial headlined “Olympic Games Over Truth,” as well as devoting most of its op-ed page to a plea from now-imprisoned Hu Jia, who detailed Olympic host China’s massive violations of human rights. And my question: Would the President support having our Olympic teams compete in the United States, at the same time of their Olympic events in China with joint-timing, as far better than our teams and our President going to and dignifying this brutal dictatorship?
MR. FRATTO: I think our views on this have been very clear, and the President’s views on this have been very clear, that we have a great deal of concern about human rights in China, and the tools that are available to people in free democracies, free speech, and freedom of assembly. And we have never been afraid to express those views either directly by the President, or the President’s senior advisors when they travel to China, and publicly. The Olympics will take place, and we expect the Olympic — American qualifying Olympic athletes to participate in those games.
Q But the President is going to go there and support this brutal dictatorship instead of pulling out, as so many people have pleaded with him to pull out.
MR. FRATTO: Yes, I think we’ve answered this question many times, Les. And I don’t think I have anything new to add to it.