Conservative talk radio host Sean Hannity defined “party before country” on his radio broadcast yesterday.
During an interview with Paul Bremer, former head of the Coaliation Provisional Authority, on his new book, My Year In Iraq: The Struggle to Build a Future of Hope (co-written with Malcolm McConnell), Hannity took great offense to Bremer’s suggestion that he believed there should be more troops in Iraq. (A similar discussion was scheduled to occur on last night’s Hannity & Colmes, on Fox News Channel.)
While Hannity didn’t call Bremer a liar, he made several statements that implied Bremer was somehow a traitor — not to the country, but to the Bush Administration — to publicize his dissent against President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. It was as if Hannity was saying, “How dare you turn against your fellow Republicans!”
The interview took the form of Hannity offering a reason Bremer shouldn’t have written the book or spoken out against the administration, and Bremer — who sounded as if he was not prepared for such a testy exchange — defending himself by saying his account was truthful, and that he remained a loyal Republican, Bush supporter and in favor of the war.
Some of the highlights:
HANNITY: MOUTHPIECE FOR THE ADMINISTRATION?
Hannity said he spoke with a senior Bush Administration official, who told Hannity that Bremer wanted to “revise history.” If Bremer believed there weren’t enough troops, why didn’t he say so at the time.
Bremer replied that he did relate his feelings in multiple conversations with Bush, and via e-mail with Rumsfeld. He said that he didn’t feel it was right to air his concerns via the media. (His first public statement on the matter came in October, 2004 — four months after he left his position.)
Hannity then asked, more than once, how it was that Bush could publicly say that he offered to provide whatever the Pentagon wanted, and yet the Pentagon never asked for more troops.
Bremer said that Bush had a choice: listen to the Pentagon, or listen to him. Bush chose to listen to the Pentagon. But that didn’t mean Bremer didn’t offer his opinion.
HANNITY: IS BREMER AIDING THE ENEMY (ER … LIBERALS)?
Hannity suggested that it might be wrong for Bremer to write the book now — while the war was ongoing — because it would “give the liberals and the anti-war critics” another reason to rally against the war, or the administration’s management of it.
“Can’t you see how?” Hannity offered multiple times.
But Bremer retorted that it was foolish to lump him in with anti-war critics, since he remains a friend of Bush and a supporter of the Iraq policy.
Hannity, not fazed, added that it might have been better for Bremer to write a “history book” — many, many years in the future.
Is Bremer telling the truth in his new book? JABBS has no way of knowing.
What is known, though is that Bremer’s public statements of “truth” today don’t match his public statements of “truth” in 2003. It’s very possible that Bremer talked to Bush and e-mailed Rumsfeld with his concerns.
But given the contradiction in public statements, either Bremer was spinning Bush talking points in 2003, or he’s trying to cover his rear now. Take your pick which is worse.
For example, Bremer may have quietly said that then that there was a lack of troops. Publicly, he had this exchange during a July, 2003, briefing:
JOHN NEEDHAM (LOS ANGELES TIMES): You said all week that security is a primary concern of yours and Sergio DiMayo echoed that the other day in his report to the Security Council. Is the current troops strength adequate to produce the security that you’ll think is need now?
BREMER: Yeah I think it is. We’re doing basically three things now and over the next 60 days to improve security. One of them is to reconfigure our troop profile there as John Abizaid announced over the weekend. Basically the general concept is to get to – get away from heavy forces towards lighter more mobile force, forces which have Special Operation skills.
And while Bremer is now saying the U.S. didn’t predict an insurgency, in July, 2003, he told Tony Snow of Fox News Sunday something quite different:
Q: Do you think that some of Saddam’s forces already had plans for opposition, even before the war began, and that they prepositioned personnel and weaponry before the war?
BREMER: Well, it’s possible. There has been some evidence of planning for the possibility of losing the war militarily and going into some kind of insurgency or organized resistance. We certainly are seeing now organized resistance at small level, squad level organized resistance by professional killers. These are guys who are trained soldiers. It’s not a massive uprising by disgruntled factory workers. These are professional killers — members of the Fedayeen Saddam, Baathists, former members of the Republican Guard. But it’s important to remember that these attacks are in a very small area of the country, a country which was traditionally Saddam’s area of support, and they pose no strategic threat to us. We will overpower them.
This item first appeared at Journalists Against Bush’s B.S.