In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday John Allen, the Marine nominated by President Obama to lead the war effort in Afghanistan, disclosed that the White House lied when they claimed that the announced troop withdrawal plan was "in the range of options" the military leadership had given the president to consider for a troop draw-down.
During questioning by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Lt. Gen. John Allen said the plan Obama announced on June 22 to withdraw 33,000 troops before the 2012 election was "a more aggressive option than that which was presented" for consideration by the military leadership in terms of size and pace. Graham asked specifically if the plan announced was even among the options presented. Allen answered, "It was not."
As President and Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama had every right to make whatever decision he wants. But, the real question is why his staff felt it necessary to lie to the press and the American people about it?
In a conference call briefing with the media a few hours before the President's announcement on June 22, a reporter asked if the plan was "one of the options that General Petraeus gave to the President?" In the transcript of that briefing, a person identified only as a "Senior Administration Official" answered that "the President's decision was fully within the range of options that were presented to him." Maybe for emphasis, the same official returned to the question again a short while later reiterating, "So, to your first question…the President's decision was fully in the range of options the President considered."
That is not true.
General Petraeus as well as Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have both said Obama's plan was "more aggressive" than the military advisers had recommended. Lt. Gen. Allen is the third person at the top of the military leadership ladder to confirm that Obama went outside of the advice of the field commanders.
In addressing the military's preference for a more modest draw-down, Adm. Mullen noted that, "No commander ever wants to sacrifice fighting power in the middle of a war." Of course not, it compromises the safety of the remaining troops and the objectives of the mission.
So, why did Obama go against the advice of his top commanders? Petraeus, good soldier that he is, tried to put a positive perspective on it noting that, "There are broader considerations beyond those of just a military commander."
Yes, and in this case the primary consideration was transparently Obama's re-election.
But, why the need to lie? Some polls indicate that public opinion is actually on Obama's side this time, unlike many of his other policy decisions. Then why not just tell the American people the truth; that he was bucking the advice of the commanders and give his reasons?
One possible reason is obvious; no president likes to have disputes with his top military brass aired in public. But, it is also very clear that misrepresenting the facts – lying – has become standard operating procedure at this White House. There will be more as Operation Re-election is fully implemented.
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