Wait. Is George Bush in Anbar meeting with the very militia groups who were killing U.S. soldiers just months ago?

Bush is desperate, desperate to say we’re making progress in Iraq. Today, as noted below, he made another secret visit to Iraq. This visit is to Anbar where he’s meeting with some of the militia leaders who used to oppose us (meaning used to kill our soldiers):

Travelling to Al-Asad Air Base rather than Baghdad gave Bush an opportunity to highlight the dramatic shift in sentiment in Anbar, where former Sunni insurgents have joined with US forces to fight Al-Qaeda.

Bush met with Sunni tribal sheikhs who have given his administration hopes of a turnaround in the deadly Sunni insurgency unleashed after the toppling of Saddam Hussein in April 2003.

“The president has been inspired and pleased with what he has seen in Anbar,” said Morrell, who said the session with the tribal leaders was also an opportunity to encourage them to reconcile with the Iraqi government.

So just six weeks ago, this is how Thomas Ricks from the Washington Post described the situation in Anbar (and I trust Thomas Ricks more than any member of the Bush administration):

U.S. forces in Iraq are striking a variety of “handshake agreements” with Iraqi insurgents and militia groups, sometimes resulting in the release of fighters detained for attacking coalition forces, U.S. military officials said in several recent interviews.

Such informal deals mark a significant tactical shift in the Iraq war and represent a potentially risky effort to enlist former U.S. foes in the battle against hard-line militants. Despite a White House report last week concluding that a formal amnesty initiative would be “counterproductive” for Iraq today, U.S. military officials in Iraq believe that successful counterinsurgency campaigns almost always involve some form of forgiveness as a means to ending the fighting and achieving political reconciliation.

So it would be “counterproductive” to provide amnesty, but it’s okay for Bush to meet with them? We need and deserve to know just which former insurgent leaders Bush met today. It’s one thing for the U.S. soldiers in Iraq to meet with these “former” insurgents in order to end violence. But meeting with the President of the United States????

This public relations ploy reinforces the point that Bush will do anything to show progress — even if it means rewarding terrorists, well people who were terrorists six weeks ago.

Bush doesn’t pardon anyone — except Scooter Libby and, now, the insurgents in Anbar.

But, hey, Bush is getting his photo op. He can see “progress.” Does anything else really matter?


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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