WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING
In an interview with NPR's Juan Williams, President Bush was cautious in his reaction to the recent fighting in Najaf -- and then he wasn't so cautious:
PRESIDENT BUSH: You know, Juan, I haven't been briefed by the Pentagon yet. One of the things I've learned is not to react to first reports off the battlefield. I will tell you, though, that this fight is an indication of what is taking place, and that is the Iraqis are beginning to take the lead, whether it be this fight that you've just reported on where the Iraqis went in with American help to do in some extremists that were trying to stop the advance of their democracy, or the report that there's militant Shia had been captured or killed. In other words, one of the things that I expect to see is the Iraqis take the lead and show the American people that they're willing to the hard work necessary to secure their democracy, and our job is to help them.
So my first reaction on this report from the battlefield is that the Iraqis are beginning to show me something.
"The Iraqis are beginning to show me something"? Oops:
Iraqi forces were surprised and nearly overwhelmed by the ferocity of an obscure renegade militia in a weekend battle near the holy city of Najaf and needed far more help from American forces than previously disclosed, American and Iraqi officials said Monday.
They said American ground troops -- and not just air support as reported Sunday -- were mobilized to help the Iraqi soldiers, who appeared to have dangerously underestimated the strength of the militia, which calls itself the Soldiers of Heaven and had amassed hundreds of heavily armed fighters....
The Iraqis and Americans eventually prevailed in the battle. But the Iraqi security forces' miscalculations about the group's strength and intentions raised troubling questions about their ability to recognize and deal with a threat.
Here's my favorite d'oh! moment:
...Among the troubling questions raised is how hundreds of armed men were able to set up such an elaborate encampment, which Iraqi officials said included tunnels, trenches and a series of blockades, only 10 miles northeast of Najaf. After the fight was over, Iraqi officials said they discovered at least two antiaircraft weapons as well as 40 heavy machine guns.
The government knew that the Soldiers of Heaven had set up camp in the area, but officials said they thought they were there to worship together.
Yeah -- doesn't every mosque have tunnels, trenches, and antiaircraft weapons?
Ah, but there are living things that fear the Iraqi troops in Najaf. Remember this from last month?
Iraqi soldiers bit the heads off frogs and ate the heart of a rabbit as signs of courage on Wednesday at a ceremony to transfer Najaf province, home to one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest shrines, from U.S. to Iraqi control....
Politicians, tribal and religious leaders and soldiers watched displays of military prowess and one demonstration, hailed as a display of courage, in which five soldiers stopped before the grandstand to bite the heads off frogs.
A sixth holding a live rabbit slit open its stomach and ate its heart before tossing the carcass to his comrades to chew on....
Maybe these guys shouldn't quit their day jobs as carnival geeks.