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McCain: I 'misspoke' about conditions in Baghdad

Whoa, I think that would be actually be called lying, McCain.

I think the best he could have done is leave the issue alone, but instead John McCain tries to do damage control on his ridiculous photo op in the Baghdad market that required a small Army to show us that it was safe there. His visit required 100 American soldiers, with three Blackhawk helicopters, two Apache gunships overhead, hidden snipers and bulletproof vests. His excursion included a Rug Shopping Spree at an Iraqi street vendor with Senator Lindsey (“I bought 5 rugs for 5 bucks“) Graham (R-SC) and Rep. Mike (“like a normal outdoor market in Indiana“) Pence (R-IN).

McCain said he regrets comments he made after a tour of Baghdad last Sunday, when he said he could see progress and the American people were not being told the “good news” about the war, according to excerpts of his comments and a press release provided by “60 Minutes.”

…”Of course I am going to misspeak and I’ve done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do it in the future,” said McCain, according to “60 Minutes”. McCain acknowledged in this “60 Minutes” interview that he had been accompanied by heavy security during his trip.

“I can understand why (the Army) would provide me with that security, but I can tell you that if it had been two months ago and I’d asked to do it, they would have said, ‘Under no circumstances whatsoever,'” he said.

“I view that as a sign of progress.”

He doesn’t indicate which comments were misspoken, so he still looks even more ridiculous — and people will parse his earlier statements all over again. He’s ensuring the story won’t die down (not that it should). So which of these did he misspeak?

“There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods, today,”
the confident Tool on Bill Bennett’s Morning in America radio show

QUESTION: I have just read on the Internet that you said there are areas in Baghdad that you can walk around freely.
MCCAIN: Yes, I just was — came from one.
QUESTION: Pardon me?
MCCAIN: I just came from one.
QUESTION: Yes. And which areas would that be?
MCCAIN: Sir, what I said was — what I said was that there is encouraging signs and that things are better.
lying to an Iraqi reporter at the Green Zone press conference in Baghdad

“The American people are not getting the full picture of what’s happening here. They’re not getting the full picture of the drop in murders, the establishment of security outposts throughout the city, the situation in Anbar Province, the deployment of additional Iraqi brigades, who are performing well, and other progress — signs of progress that are having been made.”
— at the press conference in Baghdad

“General Petraeus goes out there almost every day in an unarmed humvee. I think you oughta catch up. You are giving the old line of three months ago. I understand it. We certainly don’t get it through the filter of some of the media.”
to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who asked McCain why Americans still aren’t able to safely leave the Green Zone in Iraq

CNN’s Michael Ware rebutted those remarks straight away: I’ve spoken to military sources and there was laughter down the line. I mean, certainly the general travels in a humvee. There’s multiple humvees around it, heavily armed. There’s attack helicopters, predator drones, sniper teams, all sorts of layers of protection. So, no, Sen. McCain is way off base on this one..”

“Well, I’m not saying they could go without protection. The President goes around America with protection. So, certainly I didn’t say that.”
— McCain on CNN the very next day just flat out lying (maybe this is the misspeak he’s talking about), when told about Petraeus’s actual security detail

BTW, an Iraqi merchant also came forward to blow away McCain’s fantasy (WaPo):

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.

Although the congressional delegation reported seeing crowds of Iraqis shopping in the market, Raheem said the number represented a sliver of the customers he used to see. “It is not even 10 percent of our work before the bombings, because people are afraid to come,” he said.

Worse, he said, the closure of the main street by barriers has affected his business. If it was so safe, he said, “let them open the street, for the market has died since they put them there.”

* A little stroll in Baghdad

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding