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Steele's Take on Fallujah

Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele has again found himself facing objections for words uttered while campaigning for U.S. Senate.

This time, the subject was the Iraq war, which the Republican candidate discussed last week with reporters and editors of the Frederick News-Post.

The newspaper's State House bureau chief asked: Has the Iraq war been successful? Steele argued that it has.

"Largely unwritten is the story of what's happening in three-quarters of the rest of that country," Steele said. "Remember Fallujah, ladies and gentlemen? I don't hear anyone talking about Fallujah anymore. It's not on the front page anymore of the papers. Why? Because order has been restored, and the terrorists have largely been routed."

To some degree, Steele's comments reflect recent reports.

Last week The Washington Post reported Aug.4 that a major U.S. military offensive drove the bulk of the guerrillas from Fallujah. "Since then," the report said, "the insurgent presence in the city has been vastly reduced, while in nearby Ramadi there have been daily scenes of fighting between U.S. troops and insurgents."

At the same time, Steele's Democratic critics said the lieutenant governor was presenting an exceptionally rosy view of events there. The same Post report said al-Qaeda had vowed to take back Fallujah, declaring that it had united local armed factions into a cohesive force to fight the U.S. and Iraqi troops.

Ten days ago, The U.S. Marines reported that Lance Cpl. Kurt E. Dechen of Springfield, Vt., was shot in the abdomen and killed Aug..3 while on a foot patrol there. Another Marine, Lance Cpl. Adam Escobar of from Hampton, Mass., was hit in the leg.

State Democratic Party chairman Terry Lierman pounced on Steele's statements, noting that when the lieutenant governor spoke anonymously with reporters in Washington last month, he presented a different take on the war.

"Three weeks ago, the anonymous Steele said Bush should 'admit mistakes' in Iraq," Lierman said. "But this week, when talking to a newspaper in Maryland's Republican heartland, Michael Steele repeats GOP bromides about success in Iraq, citing Fallujah as an example. What planet is Steele on?"

Steele's campaign had no response to Lierman's comments.

Steele's latest take on the war appears to run counter to the opinion of most Marylanders. In a June Washington Post poll, 63.percent of registered voters said they viewed the waras not worth fighting.

Matthew Mosk

By Phyllis Jordan  |  August 13, 2006; 9:50 AM ET
 
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Comments

Thanks for covering the race for U.S. Senate. Now please see my comments on blog.washingtonpost.com/countyconnections/ about how the Post is trying suppress ideas by not covering the real race for Montgomery County Executive, which has an open seat for the first time in twelve years.

Posted by: Robin Ficker Independent for Montgomery County Executive | August 13, 2006 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Two Marines were shot and one was killed in Fallujah ten days ago.

While tragic, I guess the Post had to dig deep to find that statistic in their daily attempt to contradict Steele's evey word. Thanks Matt, good reporting.

Now, tell me how many shootings and gun related deaths happened in that same ten day span in Washington, DC? (Where it is illegal to own guns BTW) Then give me your opinion on who is more secure. The citizens of Fallujah or Washingtonians?

Political manuevering that undermines support for our troops doesn't help the country or our troops, regardless of your opinions on why we're there.

Posted by: BG from PG | August 13, 2006 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Mosk, you never surprise anyone with your anti-Republican...what word do I need, because it sure isn't reporting. Have you been to Iraq?

Have you seen the little boys, oh thats right and girls, getting an education for once? I know the Washington Post and yourself do everything possible to paint Iraq as a failure, but look at what it is and where it's heading without being close minded, and you will see Lt. Gov. Steele is correct, and you my friend once again post misstruths.

Posted by: Justin | August 14, 2006 12:12 AM | Report abuse

Mosk must be absolutely giddy today! Not only does he get to smear Michael Steele but American's war on terror as well.

Posted by: Rufus | August 14, 2006 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Politcal reporting that exposes Republican falsehoods and hypocricy about the war in Iraq is relevant and necessary. I just returned from a 13 month tour of active duty with 9 of those spent in Iraq. Only a Republican apologist can claim that the war in Iraq is going well. By the way, I was on active duty in Vietnam and Desert Storm....what are LT Governor Steele's military credentials...or is he just another Republican/Neo-Con Chicken Hawk? Sorry to be so rough on the candidate but Neo-Cons and Chicken Hawks with no military record need to be "Swift Boated" and defeated. I suggest that any voter who still thinks the rosy reports from DOD and Rush Limbaugh (another Vietnam era draft doger, like the V.P.)are gospel buy themselves a copy of the new book Fiasco. I know several of the authors sources and they are "grade A"

Posted by: Mike Sternfeld | August 14, 2006 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Odd that the guys on the ground in Iraq who I talk to state that the terrorists are being ground down.

Of course, the terrorists do take great comfort in reading reports from American "cut-and-run" journalists.

By the by, when are we going to get our troops out of Clinton's quagmire in Bosnia and Kosovo?

Posted by: Rufus | August 14, 2006 12:22 PM | Report abuse

That Steele would even mention the word Fallujah just shows that he is grasping at straws and has no idea what he is talking about. This guy had better start being a little more careful or he will really embarrass himself. I guess it already happened with his "off-the-record" inanities but he still has more rope. We'll see what he does with it.

If people want a senator who has no idea what he is talking about, they can move to Alabama and be represented by Jeff Sessions. We really don't an ignorant, flag-waving bloviator in Maryland.

Posted by: Jim Preston | August 14, 2006 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Ok, why don't we state the facts on Iraq and not just good or bad speculative statements.

Spent & approved to spend in Iraq - $435 billion of US taxpayers' money

Lost & Unaccounted for in Iraq - $9 billion of US taxpayers' money and $549.7 milion in spare parts shipped in 2004 to US contractors

Halliburton Overcharges Classified by the Pentagon as Unreasonable and Unsupported - $1.4 billion

Daily insurgent attacks, Feb 2004 - 14; Daily insurgent attacks, July 2005 - 70; Daily insurgent attacks, July 2006 - 90

Trained Iraqi Troops Needed by July 2006 272,566

Trained Iraqi Troops, Per US Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad in August 2005 - "Not very large."

Trained Iraqi Troops Able to Fight Without Major US Support, as of March 2006 - Zero

Iraqi Unemployment Rate - 27 to 60%, where curfew not in effect

Consumer Price Inflation in 2005 - 20%

Iraqi Children Suffering from Chronic Malnutrition - 25% in May 2006

Percent of professionals who have left Iraq since 2003 - 40%

Iraqi Physicians Before 2003 Invasion - 34,000

Iraqi Physicians Who Have Left Iraq Since 2005 Invasion - 12,000

Average Daily Hours Iraqi Homes Have Electricity - 11.8

Average Daily Hours Baghdad Homes Have Electricity - 7.6

Number of Iraqi Homes Connected to Sewer Systems - 37%

Percentage of Iraqi Homes with Access to Piped Water - 78%

Water Treatment Plants Rehabilitated - 22%
Iraqis "strongly opposed to presence of coalition troops - 82%

Iraqis who believe Coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security - less than 1%

Iraqis who feel less secure because of the occupation - 67%

Iraqis who do not have confidence in multi-national forces - 72%

Iraqis who rarely have safe, clean water - 71%

Iraqis who never have enough electricity - 47%

Now couple those numbers with an average of 100 people a day being killed in sectarian violence and you have the greatest public policy failure imaginable.

It is better to make a tactical retreat than to stay and fight a losing battle. And Iraq is a losing battle because its not up to our troops whether we win or lose. Its up to the Iraqis, and they seem to want to fight and kill each other over oil money and century's old religious schizms.

If our troops had a target to fight, they could make short work of anyone in the world, but if you want them to stand in the middle of someone else's civil war, then you're setting them up to fail, which will make us look weaker than so-called "cutting and running." Its better to have your enemy think they won, than to stay until it festers into something that cannot be contained, all the while bankrupting the next generation financing this folly and wasting our young men and women on this disaster.

Posted by: RCD | August 14, 2006 10:36 PM | Report abuse

But at least we found those 100,000 bodies in mass graves that was the cause for Clinton to bomb Kosovo in support of the Muslim jihadists there.

Of course, we found them in Iraq and they were all full of Saddam's victims.

Clinton Lied! People Died & Christian Churches burned!

Posted by: Rufus | August 15, 2006 7:24 AM | Report abuse

You can't make two contradictory comments about Iraq and expect people to not question them.

Posted by: Troop Supporter - War No | August 15, 2006 9:58 AM | Report abuse

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