MSNBC, NY Post, Drudge falsely claimed Clinton said "surge" is "working"

››› ››› RYAN CHIACHIERE & JEREMY HOLDEN

In articles on Sen. Hillary Clinton's speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, several media outlets reported that Clinton said the Bush administration's so-called "surge" policy is "working." Clinton actually said: "We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas -- particularly in Al Anbar Province -- it's working. We're just years too late changing our tactics."

During an August 20 speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) said, according to The New York Times in an August 21 article, "We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas, particularly in Al Anbar Province, it's working. ... We're just years too late changing our tactics. We can't ever let that happen again." The Times also reported that "[a]ides to Mrs. Clinton said her remarks that military tactics in Iraq are 'working' referred specifically to reports of increased cooperation from Sunnis leading to greater success against insurgents in Al Anbar Province." Several other media outlets, however, have claimed that Clinton said the Bush administration's so-called "surge" policy is "working":

  • During an August 21 report on Democrats' positions on Iraq, an MSNBC Live on-air graphic read: "Hillary Clinton: Surge is Working, But Years Too Late For Change" -- even though the video clip of Clinton MSNBC aired during the segment itself showed her saying: "We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some places -- particularly in Al Anbar Province -- it's working."
  • In an August 21 article -- headlined, "Iraq Surge Working, But Too Late: Hillary Clinton" -- the New York Post reported: " 'It's working. We're just years too late in our tactics,' [Clinton] said, referring to the beefed-up U.S. troop presence battling insurgents in Iraq, including war-torn Anbar province." The Post further asserted that "Clinton's positive assessment of the troop surge puts her in agreement with some high-ranking military officials and scholars, but in direct opposition to many fellow Democrats." But Clinton did not give a "positive assessment of the troop surge," and her statement was not in reference to "Iraq, including the war-torn Anbar province"; rather, she cited Al Anbar as one place where the "change [of] tactics" has brought positive results.
  • On August 21, a banner headline on the Drudge Report read: "Hillary on Surge? 'It's Working' ..."
  • A headline on the website JustHillary.com read: "At veterans' convention, HRC says surge working but bring troops home..."
  • The Associated Press paraphrased Clinton's statement in an August 21 report on her speech, reporting: "New military tactics in Iraq are working but the best way to honor U.S. soldiers is 'by beginning to bring them home,' Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton told war veterans Monday." Clinton, however, did not refer specifically to the "surge" policy, and the AP story cropped Clinton's quote to suggest that she was speaking more broadly.
  • On August 21, The Washington Times reported: " 'It's working,' Mrs. Clinton said of the troop surge yesterday in a speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Kansas City, Mo., a group at odds with her votes for a pullout and against emergency troop funding."
  • As Tim Grieve noted on Salon's War Room blog, even The New York Times, which, as Grieve wrote, "quotes Clinton more fairly than the Washington Times does" reported that Clinton's remarks were "notable because Mrs. Clinton has been a consistent critic of the Bush administration's troop escalation in Iraq, and Republican presidential candidates have been seizing on signs of progress in Al Anbar Province in arguing against a troop withdrawal."

From the 11 a.m. ET hour of the August 21 edition of MSNBC Live:

CONTESSA BREWER (anchor): You know, I know that Hillary Clinton echoed some of Senator Levin's comments in her speech to veterans. Let me play part of what she said.

CLINTON [video clip]: We've begun to change tactics in Iraq, and in some areas -- particularly in Al Anbar Province -- it's working. We're just years too late changing our tactics. We can't ever let that happen again. We can't be fighting the last war; we have to be preparing to fight the new war.

BREWER: Is there a sense in Iraq that the surge is successful, but it just -- it comes too late?

ASPELL: Well, I don't think it's any secret that there were mistakes made over the past four years or so, but certainly among the U.S. military here, there is a feeling that the surge -- particularly in Baghdad itself -- is successful in that the number of daily attacks have gone down, the number of dead bodies found around the capital has decreased over the past couple of months.

Ever since those extra 30,000 troops began pouring into the country in January, violence in and around the capital has subsided. But at the same time, there have been more attacks in the provinces and other outlying areas. But many people do agree it is enough, but it may be just a little bit too late, Contessa.

BREWER: Tom, thanks for the update.

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