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Will the Press Notice Panetta's Contention That U.S. Left Iraq Too Early?

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Is an insane level of tolerance being fed to Americans in exchange for their personal safety and the safety of their children and families? Be sure to set your DVR for tonight's episode of 60-minutes to see what former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has to say.
Will the Press Notice Panetta's Contention That U.S. Left Iraq Too Early?
On Sunday, CBS's "60 Minutes" will broadcast Scott Pelley's recent interview of former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. In CBS's promotional tease, which was broadcast on Friday, in response to Pelley's question about whether he was confident that the U.S. troop withdrawal "was the right thing to do" at the time it was done, Panetta said, "No, I wasn't." That's big news. How big? So big that, based on searches on Panetta's last name, the Associated Press and the New York Times have yet to cover it. In other words, it's fair to contend that these two leading icons of American journalism are waiting for an administration response before they run the story, so they can then turn it into a "White House denies" piece.
Transcript (beginning at the 0:10 mark; bolds are mine throughout this post):
Scott Pelley: Back when you watched the stars and stripes being lowered for the last time in Baghdad, were you confident in that moment that pulling out was the right thing to do?
Leon Panetta: No, I wasn't. I really, I really thought that it was important for us to maintain a presence in Iraq. The decision was that we ought to at least try to maintain 8 (thousand) to 10,000 troops there, plus keeping some of our intelligence personnel in place, to be able to continue the momentum in the right direction.
Pelley (narrrated, not during interview): But the elected prime minister, Noriel Malki, didn't want the U.S. force, as Iraq moved on, on its own.
Civil War broke out in Syria. The U.S. stayed largely on the sidelines, but Panetta says the national security team urged the president to do more.
Panetta: The real key was how can we develop a leadership group among the opposition that would be able to take control. And my view was to have leverage to do that, we would have to provide the weapons and the training in order for them to really be willing to work with us in that effort.
Pelley: But with virtually his entire national security team unanimous on this, that's not the decision the president made.
Panetta: I think the president's concern, and I understand it, was that he had a fear that if we started providing weapons, we wouldn't know where those weapons would wind up. My view was, "You have to begin somewhere.
Unfortunately for Pelley, the left, and the Obama adminsitration (but I repeat myself), Tim Arango at the New York Times reported that Iraq's Maliki held the exact opposite position concerning U.S. troop withdrawal during actual discussions with America's military and the administration:
The government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki is privately telling American officials that it wants their Army to stay here after this year.
The Americans are privately telling their Iraqi counterparts that they want to stay.
Especially after what Panetta has said, it seems clear that the only people who genuinely wanted to prematurely withdraw from Iraq were in the White House, with the obvious motivation of being able to declare that U.S. involvement had ended in time for the 2012 presidential election. Apparently, the long-term consequences of the move were unimportant by comparison.
As to Panetta, can anyone imagine such criticism of a Republican or conservative administration by a previous defense secretary staying bottled up like this? Neither can I.
Edited by ExExpat

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