Sean Hannity deceptively edited comments President Obama made during a 2007 Senate hearing to falsely accuse Obama of "attacking General [David] Petraeus." In fact, in comments cropped out of the video, Obama made clear his criticism was directed at President Bush and was "not a criticism" of Petraeus.
Hannity deceptively crops Obama's comments to portray them as "attacking General Petraeus"
Hannity: "Here is Barack Obama attacking General Petraeus." On his Fox News show, Hannity discussed Obama's decision to nominate Petraeus to be commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and said, "Here is Barack Obama attacking General Petraeus." Hannity then played deceptively edited video of Obama's questioning of Petraeus during 2007 Senate testimony. From the June 23 edition of Hannity:
HANNITY: We have a tape, Coulter, you have not seen this tape. I was telling you about it before the interview. General Petraeus is going to take over. General Petraeus was successful in Iraq. Barack Obama opposed it. Joe Biden attacked it. OK? Here is Barack Obama attacking General Petraeus.
OBAMA [video clip]: We have now set the bar so low that modest improvement in what was a completely chaotic situation, to the point where now we just have the levels of intolerable violence that existed in June of 2006, is considered success. And it's not. ... We are now confronted with the question: How do we clean up the mess and make the best out of a situation in which there are no good options? There are bad options and worse options. ... I think the surge has had some impact, as I suggested. I would hope it would, given the sacrifices and loss that have been made. I would argue that the impact has been relatively modest, given the investment. ... How long will this take? And at what point do we say enough?
HANNITY: He actually used the term at one point in this, "disastrous." He said "no good option" -- this is after the surge has been successful. Bad or worse in terms of the options available. And at best, moderate impact. [Hannity, 6/23/10]
Obama made clear the very comments Hannity aired were directed at President Bush and were "not a criticism" of Petraeus
Obama to Petraeus and Crocker: "And this is not a criticism of either of you gentlemen. This is a criticism of this president [Bush]." During the Senate hearing Hannity deceptively edited, Obama explicitly said that the very comments Hannity characterized as "attacking General Petraeus" were "not a criticism of either" Petraeus or Adm. Ryan Crocker, then the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Obama made clear that his criticism was directed at the Bush administration.
From the September 11, 2007, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing [accessed via Nexis]:
OBAMA: And so I think that some of the frustration you hear from some of the questioners is that we have now set the bar so low that modest improvement in what was a completely chaotic situation, to the point where now we just have the levels of intolerable violence that existed in June of 2006, is considered success. And it's not. This continues to be a disastrous foreign policy mistake.
And we are now confronted with the question, how do we clean up the mess and make the best out of a situation in which there are no good options? There are bad options and worse options. And this is not a criticism of either of you gentlemen. This is a criticism of this president and the administration, which has set a mission for the military and for our diplomatic forces that is extraordinarily difficult now to achieve.
And there has been no acknowledgement of that on the part of this administration, so that we have the president in Australia suggesting somehow that we are, as was stated before, kicking A-S-S. How can that -- how can we have a president making that assessment? And it makes it very difficult then for those of us who would like to join with you in a bipartisan way to figure out how to best move forward to extricate this from the day-to-day politics that infects Washington. So I just wanted to get that on the record.
Final stipulation: I think the surge has had some impact, as I've suggested. I would hope it would, given the sacrifices and loss that have been made. I would argue that the impact has been relatively modest, given the investment. And I have to say that based on my (sic) testimony, it is not clear to me that the primary success that you've shown, in Anbar, has anything to do with the surge. You said in this testimony that it's political, the reason for the success in Anbar, not because of an increase in troop strength. We have maybe seen some modest decline in sectarian violence inside Baghdad as a consequence of our troop patrols. That's been purchased at the cost of increased U.S. casualties and is unsustainable.
What we haven't seen is a significant disarming of the Shi'a militias. I've -- again, during your testimony, you've told us that, essentially, the Shi'as decided even before we got there to stand -- to get on one knee and to wait it out.
We haven't seen, most importantly, any significant improvement in terms of the central government's performance. It continues to be ineffectual, and we have not seen national reconciliation of the sort that was promised prior to the surge.