Urbin Report

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Another solider speaks out.

By way of milblogger Ron Long comes the story of another boots on the ground view of the President's meeting with US troops serving in Iraq:

A Chattanooga soldier now in Iraq with the 278th Regimental Combat Team said soldiers used their own words during comments made last week in a satellite discussion with President Bush.
"We wanted to give President Bush a no-kidding assessment of what we have all been working 14- (to) 18-hour days on for the last 11 months," said Lt. Gregg Murphy, of Chattanooga. "We gave him the God’s honest truth as we know it."
The dialogue was among President Bush and 10 U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq last Thursday on the eve of Iraq’s constitutional referendum. Media outlets have called the event staged because the solders went through a rehearsal before talking live with President Bush.
"Staged infers that we were given scripts and that we followed those scripts," Lt. Murphy wrote in an e-mail to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. "This is not true. None of the members on the panel used any words that were not their own."
Lt. Murphy said he was chosen to travel to Tikrit, Iraq, for the interview because he had spent the last three months leading an Iraqi army training program at a 278th base near the Iranian border. He said the soldiers got together before the interview and discussed what they wanted to say.
"We shared our different experiences of working with the Iraqi army," he said. "We started brainstorming about what questions the president was sure to ask." Lt. Murphy said White House officials later told the soldiers President Bush wanted to talk about the referendum and the Iraqi security force’s role in Saturday’s vote on a proposed Iraqi constitution.
"They continuously told us that the president wanted us to explain the situation in our own words in a way that the American public could understand," Lt. Murphy said.
Chattanooga attorney Robin Flores served alongside Lt. Murphy when the two were members of another National Guard unit. "I'm a staunch Democrat, but if Gregg Murphy tells you it was his own words, then it was his own words," Mr. Flores said. "His word is as good as gold."
Lt. Murphy said time was limited for the interview, so the soldiers selected a mediator and organized who would field each question. He said the only guidance the solders received was to avoid using military jargon that would confuse the general public and to write out bullet points to keep their comments concise and clear. Lt. Murphy said writing out key points kept the soldiers from being nervous.

HT to Ms. Malkin