Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Dana Milbank has a perceptive column in today's The Washington Post on the testimony yesterday of Gen. Petraeus.

"You can't tell the enemy in Iraq anymore without a scorecard.

"When the United States invaded Iraq five years ago, the enemy was Saddam Hussein and his Baathists. When Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ryan C. Crocker, respectively the U.S. commander and the ambassador to Iraq, came to testify to Congress last year, the enemy was al-Qaeda in Iraq. Yesterday, Petraeus and Crocker returned to Congress to report that the enemy had changed once again.

"We are now fighting Iran-backed "special groups" in Iraq.

""Unchecked, the special groups pose the greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq," Petraeus testified."

Who are these special groups? Surely Petraeus means the various Shiite Militias like the Badr Brigade allied with Prime Minister Maliki or the Sadrists under Moqtada al Sadr. But why call Shiite militias "special groups"?

Maybe to confuse the issue of Iranian aid for their Shiite co-religionists. Perhaps to give the false impression that Iran is backing Qaeda groups as well. Or other Sunni insurgents. All of which is pure bull.

But the Senators questioning Petraeus seem to have been taken up with all this talk about "special groups."

Reports Dana Milbank:

"The special talk caught the attention of Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.). "Is it fair to say that the Iranian-backed special groups in Iraq are responsible for the murder of hundreds of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians?" Lieberman asked.
"It certainly is," Petraeus assured him.

"Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) asked about the violence in Basra. Petraeus blamed the 107mm rockets of the "special groups." Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) asked about the Mahdi Army. Petraeus mentioned the "special groups." Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) asked about Iran. Crocker invoked the "special groups." Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) also got the "special group" rate from the witnesses."

So all the talk about "special groups" allowed Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker, abetted by that war-monger, Joe Lieberman, to put all the blame on the lack of political and military progress in Iraq on Iran and its support for those "special groups." When you are losing battle, find a bogeyman to pin the blame. IRAN.

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