Saturday, April 14, 2007

Bush knew/didn't know about longer troop tours?

What did President Bush know about the troop tour extensions and when did he know it? was the question at yesterday's White House press briefing.

The question pertained to Wednesday's announcement by Defense Secretary Robert Gates that tours for active-duty soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan were being extended to up to 15 months from 12 months.

A reporter noted that just the day before Gates's announcment, the president said during an appearance at an American Legion post that if congressional Democrats didn't send him an acceptable war spending bill soon, troop stays in the war zones could be lengthened.

The reporter asked White House spokeswoman Dana Perino if the president was being forthright when he warned that congressional Democrats might cause longer troop tours when he must've known that his own Defense Secretary would soon be announcing that the administration would be itself extending those tours.

Perino's answer, put politely, strained credulity. It was also downright confusing. And it didn't really answer what was a fairly simple question.

She said she wasn't sure the commander-in-chief knew at the time of the American Legion speech Tuesday that the next day his own defense secretary would be announcing longer tours for troops in theater.

But when pressed by the reporter who asked skeptically how the president could not know about such a major policy change she said that the president was aware that Gates was working on a way to deal with the manpower issue related to the surge. Then she reverted to talking points about the need for giving troops more certainty etc.



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