Friday, April 13, 2007

Extending troop deployments

So on Tuesday President Bush addressed the American Legion and, among other things, took the opportunity to lay into Congress over the war funding supplemental

The bottom line is this: Congress's failure to fund our troops will mean that some of our military families could wait longer for their loved ones to return from the front lines. Others could see their loved ones headed back to war sooner than anticipated. This is unacceptable. It's unacceptable to me, it's unacceptable to our veterans, it's unacceptable to our military families, and it's unacceptable to many in this country.

This is what Bush was saying on Tuesday. Now set aside for a moment the absurdity of him claiming that because Congress has passed a bill that will require him to bring troops home sooner than he wants, he will veto the bill, forcing the troops to stay there longer, and this will be the fault of Congress. Let's for a moment believe that there is some plausible reason behind his basic claim. On Tuesday he is claiming that if Congress presents him with a bill with a time line, then because of the time line he will be forced to extend troop deployments. Ok.

On Wednesday the Pentagon, you know the Pentagon ultimately answerable to and run by George Bush, announces that troop deployments will be extended by three months. This is you know, well before the bill from Congress is presented to him. So, this increase in the troop deployment time is not being caused by the form of the bill presented by Congress, because you know there is not yet a bill being presented by Congress. This in spite of the fact that 24-hours earlier the President was saying that Congress was, maybe, going to force the increase in the troop deployment time.

Something is a little fishy. It gets worse.

It turns out that the announcement on Wednesday was forced because someone leaked the increase in the troop deployments to the press.
In terms of why we're announcing it simultaneously with the unit commanders, I'll be very blunt. Some very thoughtless person in this building made the unilateral decision yesterday to deny the army the opportunity to notify unit commanders who could then talk to their troops 48 hours before we made a public announcement. And, I can't tell you how angry it makes many of us that one individual would create potentially so much hardship not only for our servicemen and women but their families, by letting them read about something like this in the newspapers.
So it would seem that the Pentagon was expecting to increase the length of the troop deployments, and would need to increase those deployments whatever form the funding bill from Congress took.

Mind you from President Bush accusing Congress of forcing this to happen depending upon the form that the funding bill takes, until Gates is announcing the new policy, takes approximately 24-hours. But that is only because "some thoughtless person in this building" leaked the information. Could it be that the White House plan was to sit on this information until the bill came from Congress then make the announcement and blame Congress, even though they were planning this change all along? I wonder.

Mind you it gets even worse. The "good" explanation, the one that the White House wants you to believe is that George Bush doesn't know what's going on.
Dana Perino explained the timing by claiming that President Bush had been in the dark about the troop deployments until the morning it was announced:

Q So why did he tell the American Legion that people would be staying in Iraq longer because of the Democrats, when his own Pentagon, 24 hours later, was going to keep people there longer?

MS. PERINO: Well, one, I don’t know if the President knew about the — the meeting — remember, yesterday morning is when Secretary Gates came and talked to the President. […]

Q And so the President didn’t know about his own policy until Wednesday?

MS. PERINO: I’m not aware that the President knew that there was going to be — that Secretary Gates had come to any decisions.

So, the best explanation, is that George Bush was so concerned about the possibility that the form of the funding bill might force troop deployments to be extended, but was unaware that his existing policies were doing exactly that anyway. Now that he knows that his current plan is going to force these extensions, which on Wednesday were a real concern, does it matter any more? Apparently not. And this is the "good" explanation.

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