|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
MR. GREGORY: We're back with Senator John McCain.
Welcome back to the program. A lot to discuss here, a lot to react to. Let's get to your big issue this week, the issue of withdrawal. You heard Secretary Gates say here today, July 2011 is a date certain for the beginning of the withdrawal. Do you have a problem with that?
SEN. McCAIN: Yes. But let me also say, David, I support the president's decision. I think it's the right decision. I think that it can lead to success. It's a tough decision on his part to send young Americans into harm's way. As Secretary Gates said, casualties will go up, tragically. But I think he made the right decision, and I think that he is--the reality is he's not only tough decision to send young Americans into harm's way, but his--significant elements of his own party are, are opposed. So I strongly support the decision.
The problem with the date certain now is that not only there's a problem with that itself, but there's a, a significant contribution between what Secretaries Gates and Clinton were saying and what the president's spokesperson...
MR. GREGORY: Contradiction. Contradiction.
SEN. McCAIN: Contradiction...
MR. GREGORY: Yeah.
SEN. McCAIN: ...between what--and what his spokesperson said just a couple of days ago when he said the president said--he said--I'm directly quoting the president, that "withdrawal date is engraved, chiseled in stone, and I am the chiseler." Now, that's pretty straightforward. So what has that done? It has caused reaction such as you saw with the prime minister of Pakistan. Policymakers throughout the region--Pakistan, India, Iran, as well as Afghanistan--are now trying to figure out whether they can really go all in and support this effort, or do they have to accommodate? Because if we leave, they have to stay in the region. So it needs to be resolved. It needs to be resolved in this way, that we will not leave on a date certain. But we have every confidence--I do, I have every confidence within a year to 18 months we can achieve significant success. We were able to do that in Iraq. And we will leave and not allow the Taliban to make comments like Taliban prisoners are saying, "You've got the watches and we have the time." We don't want to send that message.
In what appeared to be a coordinated assault, a series of car bombings across Baghdad on Tuesday killed at least 101 people and wounded scores more, according to preliminary accounts by police and hospital officials.
Five bombs, including at least one suicide attack, struck near a university, a court, a mosque a market and in a neighborhood near the Interior Ministry. The blasts began shortly after 10 A.M. and reverberated through the city for the next 50 minutes, sending enormous plumes of black smoke into the air.
American helicopters, drones and airplanes circled the city in the immediate aftermath, while sporadic gunfire could be heard at one of the sites, near the main courthouse for western Baghdad and Zawra Park, which includes the city’s zoo and amusement areas.
A suicide car bomb in Dora, in southern Baghdad, struck a police patrol outside the main gate of the Technical Institution, a vocational college. Three police officers died there; many of the other victims were students.
The attacks were the worst in Iraq since twin suicide bombings destroyed three ministries on Oct. 25, killing at least 155. They matched a pattern of spectacular attacks in the capital, followed by weeks of relative calm. In August, two suicide car bombs struck the country’s finance and foreign ministries, killing at least 122.
The government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has blamed the attacks on Al Qaeda in Iraq and remnants of the Baath Party in exile, though officials have yet to provide concrete evidence pointing to those involved.
The latest attacks came on the day Iraq’s Presidency Council was expected, finally, to announce a date for the country’s parliamentary elections. On Sunday, under pressure from President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Iraq’s political leaders avoided a constitutional crisis and agreed on the rules for holding the election and distributing seats to the winners.
Many officials have expressed fears of intensifying violence ahead of the election, with insurgents and terrorists seeking to undermine Mr. Maliki’s government.