Today's Teleconference... Just Another Scripted Photo-Op
And the Associated Press:
Contrary to early accounts, President Bush's question-and-answer session with U.S. troops in Iraq tied to Saturday's vote on the new constitution now seems far from spontaneous. Subsequent reports from journalists on the scene revealed quite a bit of choreography in Thursday's teleconference with the president in Washington.
The official pool report, in fact, painted this scene: "The soldiers, nine U.S. men and one U.S. woman, plus an Iraqi, had been tipped off in advance about the questions in the highly-scripted event. Allison Barber, deputy assistant to the Secretary of Defense for internal communication, could be heard asking one soldier before the start of the event, 'Who are we going to give that [question] to?'"
It was billed as a conversation with U.S. troops, but the questions President Bush asked on a teleconference call Thursday were choreographed to match his goals for the war in Iraq and Saturday's vote on a new Iraqi constitution. "This is an important time," Allison Barber, deputy assistant defense secretary, said, coaching the soldiers before Bush arrived. "The president is looking forward to having just a conversation with you." Barber said the president was interested in three topics: the overall security situation in Iraq, security preparations for the weekend vote and efforts to train Iraqi troops.