On Monday Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) told reporters in Baghdad that the "surge" plan was "making progress." He also chastised the press representatives for not giving the American public “the full picture about what’s happening.”
Old Straight Talk might have been testy because the press outed the truth about his downtown Baghdad shopping spree on Sunday. Representative Mike Pence (R-Indiana), part of McCain's congressional delegation, said the Shorja market was "like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summer time," and that he was deeply moved to be able to "mix and mingle unfettered among ordinary Iraqis."
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said, "We were warmly welcomed… I bought five rugs for five bucks. People were engaging."
It turns out McCain, Pence and the rest of the delegation traveled in a convoy of armored vehicles, wore body armor, were covered by a hundred heavily armed U.S. troops and covered from the sky by five helicopters.
One "ordinary Iraqi" gave a different version of the delegation's romp through the market (From the Washington Post):
Amir Raheem, 32 , a floor carpeting merchant at the Shorja market, disagreed with the upbeat assessment of the congressional visitors. "Just yesterday, an Iraqi soldier was shot in his shoulder by a sniper, and the day before, two civilians were shot by a sniper as well," he said.
He said Sunni insurgents routinely clashed with Shiite militiamen or with Iraqi soldiers and policemen in the area. "Everybody closes their shops by 2:30 p.m.," Raheem said….
…On Sunday, he said, U.S. soldiers were present in large numbers during the congressional visit and would not let customers "even cross the street to the other side."
Yeah, that sounds like a typical Sunday in Indiana all right.
The dollar-a-carpet congressional junket was part of the latest Rovewellian information operation, one designed to sell the surge and circumvent congressional attempts to impose benchmarks and time limits on Mr. Bush's Iraq war strategy. Among the leading voices in the pro-surge echo choir are neoconservatives Bill Kristol, Jack Keane, the Kagans (Robert, Fred and Kimberly) and, of course, young Mr. Bush himself.
Bush and Robert Kagan have both quoted "genuine testimonial" by a pair of Iraqi bloggers, two wild-and-crazy brothers in Baghdad who boast of a life of barbecue and beers in the strife-torn capital city and whose blog is part of a multi-million dollar right wing web network called "Pajamas Media." (There's a pretty good satire on this by Dood Abides at Unconfirmed Sources .
Senators Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) and Harry Reid (D-Nevada) announced on Monday that they're introducing legislation that will…
…effectively end the current military mission in Iraq and begin the redeployment of U.S. forces. The bill requires the President to begin safely redeploying U.S. troops from Iraq 120 days from enactment, as required by the emergency supplemental spending bill the Senate passed last week. The bill ends funding for the war, with three narrow exceptions, effective March 31, 2008.
The pro-war Bush crowd will cozy up to that bill like cats take to swimming pools. Stand by for more claws to come out.
And get ready for more digestive system product about how well the surge is going.
Also take a look at a recent memorandum circulated by retired Army General Barry McCaffrey as quoted by (of all places) the Washington Times on March 30:
Iraq is ripped by a low-grade civil war which has worsened to catastrophic levels with as many as 3,000 citizens murdered per month…
… The population is in despair. Life in many of the urban areas is now desperate…
… the armed insurgents, militias, and al Qaeda in Iraq without fail apparently re-generate both leadership cadres and foot soldiers… Their sophistication, numbers, and lethality go up--not down--as they incur these staggering battle losses…
…In summary, the U.S. armed forces are in a position of strategic peril.
Yep. Just another Sunday in Indiana.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes from Virginia Beach, Virginia. Read his commentaries at Pen and Sword.