Chieftain uncritically reported Allard and Bush falsehoods on Iraq spending bill
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A Pueblo Chieftain article repeated without challenge false assertions from Republican U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard and President Bush regarding the Democrats' Iraq funding bill. The article failed to note other reports contradicting claims that the Iraq Study Group did not set any "definite timetable" for troop withdrawal and that the bill would delay "needed funds for U.S. troops."
In an April 26 article by Peter Roper, The Pueblo Chieftain uncritically reported U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard's (R-CO) false assertion that the report from the bipartisan Iraq Study Group "refrained from setting any definite timetable for withdrawal" of U.S. troops. Allard made the claim in response to U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar's (D-CO) statement that the Democratic Iraq emergency supplemental spending bill "follows the advice of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group [ISG]" by establishing a timeline for the phased redeployment of troops from Iraq by March 31, 2008.
As Colorado Media Matters has noted, the ISG's report stated that its "most important recommendations call for new and enhanced diplomatic and political efforts in Iraq and the region, and a change in the primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq that will enable the United States to begin to move its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly." Specifically, the ISG concluded that "[b]y the first quarter of 2008, subject to unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq." Furthermore, the report stated that "[t]he United States must not make an open-ended commitment to keep large numbers of American troops deployed in Iraq."
According to the Chieftain, "As the $123 billion Iraq supplemental spending bill moves toward a final vote this week, Colorado's senators showed their differing views":
Ken Salazar said the Democratic funding bill follows the advice of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, while Wayne Allard attacked it as an "Iraq surrender document."
Salazar, a Democrat, acknowledged that President Bush has pledged to veto the bill because it calls for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq next year, but argued the bipartisan Iraq Study Group recommended much the same.
Allard, a Republican, has been a steady supporter of Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq and he called the Democratic timetable "a surrender document." He countered that the Iraq Study Group refrained from setting any definite timetable for withdrawal in its report. He noted that [ISG member and former Secretary of State James] Baker has specifically criticized the Democratic legislation because it establishes a timetable.
The spending bill, however, follows the ISG's recommendation that "subject to unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq" by the "first quarter" of 2008. In fact, the spending bill Allard opposes states the following:
The President shall commence the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq not later than 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, with the goal of redeploying, by March 31, 2008, all United States combat forces from Iraq except for a limited number that are essential for the following purposes:
(A) Protecting United States and coalition personnel and infrastructure.
(B) Training and equipping Iraqi forces.
(C) Conducting targeted counter-terrorism operations.
In addition to reporting Allard's falsehood, the Chieftain uncritically repeated Bush's criticism that the Democratic spending bill delays "needed funds for U.S. troops in Iraq":
Bush has strongly criticized the Democratic legislation as delaying needed funds for U.S. troops in Iraq. Salazar countered that Wednesday by detailing all of the money included in the bill -- more than the White House requested in military aid. Included is $100 billion for military operations in Iraq, $3 billion for additional armored vehicles and an extra $1 billion to help replace National Guard equipment used up in Iraq.
While the Chieftain provided Salazar's response to Bush's criticism, it did not note that a March 28 memo the Congressional Research Service sent to the Senate Budget Committee stated that the Army would be able to fund its operations in Iraq "through most of July 2007" with money now on hand, as Colorado Media Matters has noted.