Was Iraqi Leader Misquoted On Marines?
Either the Iraqi leader was genuinely misquoted or White House Press Secretary Tony Snow is coming dangerously close to the point where he will become known as Tony Schmo:
The White House on Friday sought to soften criticism by Iraq’s prime minister over allegations that U.S. Marines killed two dozen unarmed civilians in the western town of Haditha last November.
White House press secretary Tony Snow said that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had told U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad that he had been misquoted. But Snow was unable to explain what al-Maliki told Khalilzad or how he had been misquoted.
That paragraph is enough to raise eyebrows — but when you read Snow’s actual quote it raises your whole face to the top of your head:
“That is a little too complicated for me to try to read out,” Snow said at a briefing where he was pressed to explain how al-Maliki’s remarks were supposed to have been distorted. “It becomes a little convoluted and so I don’t want to make a real clear characterization because it’s a little hazy to me,” Snow said.
The prime minister was quoted a day earlier as saying the Haditha deaths were “a horrible crime.” He also was quoted as saying, “This is a phenomenon that has become common among many of the multinational forces. No respect for citizens, smashing civilian cars and killing on a suspicion or a hunch. It’s unacceptable.”
So what part of it was misquoted?
Once more, the longterm political issue here is truly less the policy stance the Iraqi PM took (putting himself at odds with the United States) or even the content (saying that atrocities are “common” and “unacceptable.”). The issue is whether Snow is going to do his job and maintain a semblance of credibility. This isn’t a stellar start (unless he can specifically detail where the misquote occurred).