By: E&P Staff
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….