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August 31st, 2010
10:10 AM ET

Bergen: Mission accomplished in Iraq?

Peter Bergen | BIO
CNN National Security Analyst

Peter Bergen says Iraq war has been enormously costly.

Peter Bergen says Iraq war has been enormously costly.

Editor's note: Peter Bergen, CNN's national security analyst, is a fellow at the New America Foundation, a Washington-based think tank that promotes innovative thought from across the ideological spectrum, and at New York University's Center on Law and Security. He's the author of "The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of al Qaeda's Leader."

Washington (CNN) - On May 1, 2003, aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, President George W. Bush announced "major combat operations" in Iraq had ended. The defeat of Saddam Hussein, he told the American people, was "a crucial advance in the campaign against terror."

For the umpteenth time, Bush bracketed Saddam and the 9/11 attack. "The battle of Iraq is one victory in a war on terror that began on September 11th, 2001, and still goes on."

The president went to describe the 9/11 attacks - "the last phone calls, the cold murder of children, the searches in the rubble" - as if this had any bearing on the Iraq War.

The president also made the definitive statement that Saddam was "an ally of al Qaeda," something that his own intelligence agencies had determined was not the case before the war.

Now seven long years later, another president will again announce that the U.S. combat mission is over in Iraq, which is a good moment to ask: Was the Iraq War somehow post facto worth the blood and treasure consumed?

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Filed under: Iraq • Opinion • Peter Bergen
August 31st, 2010
09:51 AM ET

Letters to the President #589: 'It could be worse? Oh, now I feel much better'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama is jousting with the Republicans (surprise) over a small business bill. I write to him every day with words of advice, or sometimes stories about my life, or just to ask him to call me. I’m not sure if it helps in times like these, but you know…it could be worse.

Dear Mr. President,

We have a running joke in our family. Whenever one of our girls fell and scraped a knee when they were small, or my wife dragged a sleeve through the cranberry sauce, or the dog got her tail caught in the door, I would slap on a look of great thoughtfulness and say, “Well, you know, it could have been worse. It could have happened to me!”

It doesn’t read so well on paper, but trust me it is a scream. It’s funny because, of course, my escape from injury did nothing to ease their difficulty, and acting like it did was…well, like I said, funny.

Which is a funny way of telling you that your team had better be careful about telling voters too often that the recession would have been much worse without the steps you took to slow it down. See, it sounds a little like, “Sure you lost your job, but it could have been worse. You’re brother-in-law could have lost his too.” Your guy, Austan Goolsbee, trotted it out again today, even as he admitted feeling a little queasy about the state of the recovery.
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August 31st, 2010
09:11 AM ET

House GOP leader to make 'prebuttal' on upcoming Obama speech

CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - House Republican leader John Boehner will lay out a "prebuttal" ahead of President Barack Obama's prime time speech on Iraq Tuesday night.

Boehner will speak to about 10,000 people Tuesday afternoon at the 92nd American Legion National Convention in Milwaukee on Iraq and other national security issues, including Afghanistan and the Middle East.

Obama's Oval Office address is timed to coincide with the official end of the U.S. military's combat mission in Iraq.

In an op-ed published Friday in the conservative news site Human Events, Boehner said Tuesday's shift of U.S. forces from combat to an advisory mission "was made possible by the very surge that President Obama and Vice President Biden opposed."

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Filed under: Iraq
August 31st, 2010
09:00 AM ET
August 31st, 2010
08:55 AM ET

Oval Office setting is message behind the message

Xuan Thai
CNN White House Producer

President Obama will give an Oval Office address Tuesday night about the end of combat mission in Iraq.

President Obama will give an Oval Office address Tuesday night about the end of combat mission in Iraq.

Washington (CNN) - Before President Obama says a word during his Tuesday Oval Office address, the backdrop will make a statement for him: that he is the decider.

Obama is set to give his second Oval Office address, a speech meant to mark the end of combat missions in Iraq. But besides the remarks he will make, the setting of his speech will convey something, too.

"The Oval Office invokes the center of the presidential authority. That's the president's office, that's where he supposedly makes decisions, where he governs," says presidential historian Robert Dallek.

"[When] a talk to the nation is given from that office, [it] is underscoring his executive powers, his leadership."

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Filed under: Iraq • President Barack Obama
August 31st, 2010
08:50 AM ET
August 31st, 2010
08:45 AM ET
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