First off, someone in the White House Press Corps is finally not settling for the pat answer (or non-answer in this instance) :
Terry Moran vs. Scott McClellan on 'Last Throes' of Insurgency in Iraq By E&P Staff Published: June 16, 2005 4:00 PM ET
With polls showing rising public concerns about the war in Iraq, and even some Republicans calling for a withdrawal timetable, White House correspondents and White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan responded in their separate ways today. At his daily briefing, McClellan announced that the President was going to bring a “sharper focus” to the issue in new discussions with the public, while reporters seemed respond not only to that but to rising criticism of their performance in holding the administration's feet to the fire. After McClellan outlined the president's plans, leading up to a key June 28th speech, ABC correspondent Terry Moran asked a pointed question, which referred back to an assessment recently made by Vice President Dick Cheney.
Q Scott, is the insurgency in Iraq in its 'last throes'?
McCLELLAN: Terry, you have a desperate group of terrorists in Iraq that are doing everything they can to try to derail the transition to democracy. The Iraqi people have made it clear that they want a free and democratic and peaceful future. And that's why we're doing everything we can, along with other countries, to support the Iraqi people as they move forward….
Q But the insurgency is in its last throes?
McCLELLAN: The Vice President talked about that the other day -- you have a desperate group of terrorists who recognize how high the stakes are in Iraq. A free Iraq will be a significant blow to their ambitions.
Q But they're killing more Americans, they're killing more Iraqis. That's the last throes?McCLELLAN: Innocent -- I say innocent civilians. And it doesn't take a lot of people to cause mass damage when you're willing to strap a bomb onto yourself, get in a car and go and attack innocent civilians. That's the kind of people that we're dealing with. That's what I say when we're talking about a determined enemy.
Q Right. What is the evidence that the insurgency is in its last throes?
McCLELLAN: I think I just explained to you the desperation of terrorists and their tactics.
Q What's the evidence on the ground that it's being extinguished?
McCLELLAN: Terry, we're making great progress to defeat the terrorist and regime elements. You're seeing Iraqis now playing more of a role in addressing the security threats that they face. They're working side by side with our coalition forces. They're working on their own. There are a lot of special forces in Iraq that are taking the battle to the enemy in Iraq. And so this is a period when they are in a desperate mode.
Q Well, I'm just wondering what the metric is for measuring the defeat of the insurgency.
McCLELLAN: Well, you can go back and look at the Vice President's remarks. I think he talked about it.
Q Yes. Is there any idea how long a 'last throe' lasts for?
McCLELLAN: Go ahead, Steve....
Wording in red and italicised is my highlight :
Red Cross hits back at U.S. Republican critic
17 Jun 2005 11:01:51 GMTSource: ReutersBy Stephanie Nebehay
GENEVA, June 17 (Reuters) - The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) hit back at a U.S. Republican report which questioned its impartiality, dismissing the accusations as false and unsubstantiated.
ICRC President Jakob Kellenberger vowed the Swiss-based agency would stick to its principles of neutrality and expressed confidence the United States would remain its top donor.
A policy adviser for the U.S. Senate Republican majority said this week the ICRC had lost its impartiality and was advocating positions at odds with U.S. interests.
"The paper's purpose appears to be to discredit the ICRC by putting forward false allegations and unsubstantiated accusations," Kellenberger told a news briefing.
The humanitarian agency has visited foreign terrorism suspects held by U.S. forces in Iraq and at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as part of its regular operations.
Kellenberger denied ICRC staff had compared U.S. soldiers to Nazis and that the organisation had leaked any confidential reports submitted to U.S. authorities on its prison visits.
A confidential ICRC memorandum which appeared in the New York Times last November accused the U.S. military of tactics "tantamount to torture" on prisoners at Guantanamo Bay -- an accusation rejected by the Pentagon.
The ICRC regularly pays extensive visits Guantanamo Bay, which holds 520 people detained during the 2001 U.S. war to oust al Qaeda and the ruling Taliban from Afghanistan and in other operations in the U.S.-led war against terrorism.
It also visits 10,000 inmates in Iraq and a few weeks ago visited deposed leader Saddam Hussein.
Kellenberger, a former Swiss diplomat, stressed the "good and trustful relations" with the U.S. government, despite "differences of view".
The United States had contributed 167 million Swiss francs ($131 million) towards the ICRC's 940-million-franc budget last year, making it the largest contributor once again.
"It is even likely that the American contribution will be higher this year than last year," he said.
The report was written by Dan Fata, who directs national security studies for the Republican Policy Committee, a group chaired by influential Senator John Kyl.
It accused the ICRC of reinterpreting international law "so as to afford terrorists and insurgents the same rights and privileges as the military personnel of countries like the United States, who have signed the Geneva Conventions".
But Kellenberger said the ICRC's independence was key to getting access to civilians and detainees caught up in conflicts. It deploys 12,450 aid workers in 79 countries.
Rice Says Administration Told Americans Iraq Would Be A “Generational Commitment”
This morning (6/19/05) on Fox News Sunday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was asked if “the Bush administration fairly [can] be criticized for failing to level with the American people about how long and difficult this commitment will be?” Rice responded:
"[T]he administration, I think, has said to the American people that it is a generational commitment to Iraq. "
That’s not true. To build support for the war the administration told the American people that the conflict in Iraq will be short and affordable.
Vice President Dick Cheney, 3/16/03:
[M]y belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators. . . . I think it will go relatively quickly. . . (in) weeks rather than months
Donald Rumsfeld, 2/7/03:
It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.
Former Budget Director Mitch Daniels, 3/28/03:
The United States is committed to helping Iraq recover from the conflict, but Iraq will not require sustained aid…
Sen. Chuck Hagel (that damned "liberal" Republican [see article above about the the CPB] )speaks out :
Hit by friendly fire
With his polls down, Bush takes flak on Iraq from a host of critics--including some in his own party
By Kevin Whitelaw
Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel is angry. He's upset about the more than 1,700 U.S. soldiers killed and nearly 13,000 wounded in Iraq. He's also aggravated by the continued string of sunny assessments from the Bush administration, such as Vice President Dick Cheney's recent remark that the insurgency is in its "last throes." "Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse. The White House is completely disconnected from reality," Hagel tells U.S. News. "It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq."
In Fallujah, Americans and Iraqis are brothers in arms.
That's strikingly blunt talk from a member of the president's party, even one cast as something of a pariah in the GOP because of his early skepticism about the war. "I got beat up pretty good by my own party and the White House that I was not a loyal Republican," he says. Today, he notes, things are changing: "More and more of my colleagues up here are concerned."
Indeed, there are signs that the politics of the Iraq war are being reshaped by the continuing tide of bad news. Take this month in Iraq, with 47 U.S. troops killed in the first 15 days. That's already five more than the toll for the entire month of June last year. With the rate of insurgent attacks near an all-time high and the war's cost set to top $230 billion, more politicians on both sides of the aisle are responding to opinion polls that show a growing number of Americans favoring a withdrawal from Iraq. Republican Sens. Lincoln Chafee and Lindsey Graham have voiced their concerns. And two Republicans, including the congressman who brought "freedom fries" to the Capitol, even joined a pair of Democratic colleagues in sponsoring a bill calling for a troop withdrawal plan to be drawn up by year's end. "I feel confident that the opposition is going to build," says Rep. Ron Paul, the other Republican sponsor and a longtime opponent of the war.
Sagging polls. The measure is not likely to go anywhere, but Hagel calls it "a major crack in the dike." Whether or not that's so, the White House has reason to worry that the assortment of critiques of Bush's wartime performance may be approaching a tipping point. Only 41 percent of Americans now support Bush's handling of the Iraq war, the lowest mark ever in the Associated Press-Ipsos poll. And the Iraq news has combined with a lethargic economy and doubts about the president's Social Security proposals to push Bush's overall approval ratings near all-time lows. For now, most Republicans remain publicly loyal to the White House. "Why would you give your enemies a timetable?" asks House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. "[Bush] doesn't fight the war on news articles or television or on polls."
Still, the Bush administration is planning to hit back, starting this week, with a renewed public-relations push by the president. Bush will host Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari and has scheduled a major speech for June 28, the anniversary of the handover of power to an Iraqi government from U.S. authorities. But Congress's patience could wear very thin going into an election year. "If things don't start to turn around in six months, then it may be too late," says Hagel. "I think it's that serious."
Bush's exit strategy--which depends on a successful Iraqi political process--got a boost last week when Sunni and Shiite politicians ended weeks of wrangling over how to increase Sunni representation on the constitution-writing committee. Now, however, committee members have less than two months before their mid-August deadline. And given how long it took to resolve who gets to draft the document, it's hard to imagine a quick accord on the politically explosive issues they face.