Thursday, October 13, 2005

Bush Teleconference With Soldiers Staged

Thursday October 13, 2005 9:46 PM

AP Photo DCSA101


Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - It was billed as a conversation with U.S. troops, but the questions President Bush asked on a teleconference call Thursday were choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday's vote on a new Iraqi constitution.

``This is an important time,'' Allison Barber, deputy assistant defense secretary, said, coaching the soldiers before Bush arrived. ``The president is looking forward to having just a conversation with you.''

Barber said the president was interested in three topics: the overall security situation in Iraq, security preparations for the weekend vote and efforts to train Iraqi troops.

As she spoke in Washington, a live shot of 10 soldiers from the Army's 42nd Infantry Division and one Iraqi soldier was beamed into the Eisenhower Executive Office Building from Tikrit - the birthplace of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

``I'm going to ask somebody to grab those two water bottles against the wall and move them out of the camera shot for me,'' Barber said.

A brief rehearsal ensued.

``OK, so let's just walk through this,'' Barber said. ``Captain Kennedy, you answer the first question and you hand the mike to whom?''

``Captain Smith,'' Kennedy said.

``Captain. Smith? You take the mike and you hand it to whom?'' she asked.

``Captain Kennedy,'' the soldier replied.

And so it went.

``If the question comes up about partnering - how often do we train with the Iraqi military - who does he go to?'' Barber asked.

``That's going to go to Captain Pratt,'' one of the soldiers said.

``And then if we're going to talk a little bit about the folks in Tikrit - the hometown - and how they're handling the political process, who are we going to give that to?'' she asked.

Before he took questions, Bush thanked the soldiers for serving and reassured them that the U.S. would not pull out of Iraq until the mission was complete.

``So long as I'm the president, we're never going to back down, we're never going to give in, we'll never accept anything less than total victory,'' Bush said.

The president also got praise from the Iraqi soldier who was part of the chat.

``Thank you very much for everything,'' he gushed. ``I like you.''

On the training of Iraqi security forces, Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo from Scotia, N.Y., said to Bush: ``I can tell you over the past 10 months, we've seen a tremendous increase in the capabilities and the confidences of our Iraqi security force partners. ... Over the next month, we anticipate seeing at least one-third of those Iraqi forces conducting independent operations.''
Lombardo told the president that she was in New York City on Nov. 11, 2001, when Bush attended an event recognizing soldiers for their recovery and rescue efforts at Ground Zero.

She said the troops began the fight against terrorism in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and were proud to continue it in Iraq.

``I thought you looked familiar,'' Bush said, and then joked: ``I probably look familiar to you, too.''

(GOI: Durh! He's SUCH a DORK!!!)

Paul Rieckhoff, director of the New York-based Operation Truth, an advocacy group for U.S. veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, denounced the event as a ``carefully scripted publicity stunt.'' Five of the 10 U.S. troops involved were officers, he said.

``If he wants the real opinions of the troops, he can't do it in a nationally televised teleconference,'' Rieckhoff said. ``He needs to be talking to the boots on the ground and that's not a bunch of captains.''

(GOI: I'm tired of Bush using our soldiers as 'props.' It is sad that he felt like he had to stage this. He just doesn't have any thoughts of his own it seems. Why didn't he talk to the average troops? Because, I think that he didn't want to have a Don Rumsfeld moment with that soldier peppering him about the lack of armour! Remeber that little "public relations" snaffoo?!!

I don't think this is going to help his poll numbers. I'm kind of feeling sorry for ole King George. He refuses to accept that he isn't wearing any clothes.)

---End of Transmission---


Girl on the Blog said...

Food for thought... Great Post...

It is sad when our President has to make the soldiers puppets for him to "look good"... I have friends who are over in that "hell hole" and they say they don't understand why they are there... Our soldiers are putting their life on the line for our President to get his point across... OKAY we get it... bring them back! I wish just one of the captains had lost their "puppet strings" and asked a question like... Why do we soldiers have to buy our own body armor? You put us in this mess... you should at least help protect us... you egotistical jerk!

Just a little venting... Again, Great Post!

Zen Unbound said...

I appreciate that the Iraqis are voting tomorrow, so Bush can't have something critical come up in a chat with the troops. So, what should have happened was NOTHING! Now because Bush and his staff are such DOOFUSES the news is this rigged teleconference.

Every Republican should be tied to a chair and gagged until the Iraq election is over!

Amadeus said...

That is just sad. I saw it on ABC News Tonight and I thought to myself, I wonder how many times this happens when we don't know about it.

andi said...

i thought it was hilarious. and scary. did y'all see the guy in the second row, grinning like a loon the whole time? he's ADORABLE. he looked like he was so overwhelmed to be there - or else he was trying not to laugh. (maybe he's the one who gushed.)

the scary thing is that so many people will look at this and say, "well, hell, that's coming from our soldiers on the ground in iraq so it must be true."

and they can sleep better at night.

that's the impression i'm getting from my fellow red-staters.


can't wait to get out of here and go spend the weekend with a bunch of hippies. YAY!

james said...


Feel free to vent here. It is a place to vent and discuss all political ideas.


Yeah, he should have just laid low before the elections and not risk and event like this.


Probably a lot and I am sure it happens with all Presidents to some degree.

However, with Bush it seems worse because it seems to under-score a bigger issue that he appears aloof and uncaring.


I didn't see the press conference live but I did see that guy on the play back.

I think you are right that a lot of people will see this and just blow off the coached aspect.

Wanting to just accept whatever the President and "some" officers say about the situation in Iraq so the can "better sleep at night" as you put it.

Blake said...

Is that a tarrget on the screen?

james said...


I didn't notice that before. It does kind of look like a scope target.