A Fox News ‘Special Report,’ which aired on September 19th, featured a brief clip from a 60 Minutes interview with former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. Fox host Bret Baier set up the clip, by saying it’s the latest in a
‘very public back-and-forth between the White House and the Pentagon,’
over the 2011 withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
Here’s the segment as it appeared on Fox, on Friday, September 19:
As Media Matters points out, Fox completely edits out the portion of the interview where Panetta and CBS’s Scott Pelley discuss the facts regarding the Iraqi government’s position on the presence of US forces in the country.
Here’s the segment of Panetta’s interview on 60 minutes, in context:
As you can see from the two videos, Fox is not providing an accurate representation of either the historical facts regarding the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq or the 60 Minutes interview with Panetta.
The host uses the out of context clip, not just to unjustly criticize President Obama, but also to press for an extended US presence in Afghanistan, as well.
In a 2011 article, the New York Times covered several important issues that surrounded the negotiations between the US and Iraq.
First, former President George Bush set the 2011 deadline for US troops to remain in Iraq, putting the current President in the position of either honoring that agreement, or again proving to the world (and especially the Middle East) that Americans cannot be trusted.
‘At the end of the Bush administration, when the Status of Forces Agreement, or SOFA, was negotiated, setting 2011 as the end of the United States’ military role, officials had said the deadline was set for political reasons, to put a symbolic end to the occupation and establish Iraq’s sovereignty. But there was an understanding, a senior official here said, that a sizable American force would stay in Iraq beyond that date.” – source
Second, at the time that those negotiations were taking place, there was very little support in the Iraqi government for continued US occupation. According to the New York Times, Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, was concerned about losing support in Parliament, during a time when the country’s fragile leadership was just beginning to establish itself.
“Mr. Maliki was afraid that if he came out publicly in favor of keeping troops without gaining the support of other parties in Parliament, his rivals — particularly the former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi — would exploit the issue to weaken his shaky coalition government. Eventually, he got authorization from the group to begin talks with the Americans on keeping troops in Iraq.” – source
There was also the huge issue that came about as a result of the United States demanding immunity for American troops who had served in Iraq. Once that entered into the discussion, the US lost any support from the Iraqi people and government, that it might have hoped for, prior to that time.
Although Fox attempts to make it sound as if the President was just blatantly going against the advice of everyone in his administration, the final decision, to leave 3,000 to 5,000 troops in Iraq, was one that was ‘settled on’ by the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House.
Finally, the New York Times made it clear that intelligence analysts had assessed the risk of removing troops from Iraq, and found it to be low.
“Intelligence assessments that Iraq was not at great risk of slipping into chaos in the absence of American forces were a factor in the decision.” – source
As a reminder, prior to becoming Secretary of Defense in 2011, Panetta was the Director of the CIA.
To see the way that Fox hosts manipulate their audience of low information voters is just appalling. Unfortunately, there is a segment of the population which is extremely vulnerable to this kind of manipulation. One reason for their increased vulnerability is that they insist on getting all of their information from just one source. Sadly, the people who are exploiting and manipulating them, also have them convinced that they’re the only ones they can trust.