Couldn't call it unexpected

McCain and Rice on Iraqi parliament attack: We're still making progress.

Published April 12, 2007 3:32PM (EDT)

Would a suicide bombing inside Iraq's parliament building inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone suggest that supporters of George W. Bush's troop "surge" ought to be dialing back their talk of "progress" in Iraq?

You'd think.

But at a joint press availability this morning, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Arizona Sen. John McCain -- who seems to be on a suicide mission of the political sort lately -- somehow managed to stay the course. From the transcript:

Question: Madam Secretary, Senator McCain ... do you have any reaction on the Green Zone bombing?

Rice: John, do you want to shake hands for them first?

McCain: Sure. Oh, sure.

Question: Any reaction on the Green Zone bombing?

Rice: Well, we're still trying to get the facts ... It's obviously, again, the terrorists and those who wish to stop the Iraqi people from having a future that would be based on democracy and stability. And I noted that this is the parliament building and that, in a sense, this is an attempt to make an attack on the institution itself. But it's obviously a time -- we've said there are going to be good days and bad days concerning the security plan. But the commanders are carrying out their responsibilities and working to try to make the population more secure. We're really at the beginning of this, not at the end of it. But there will be good days and bad days.

Question: Well, what does it say about security overall in Iraq, and the surge and how that is looking?

Rice: We've known that there is a security problem in Baghdad, which is why the president has structured a new strategy and why Gen. Petraeus and his commanders are carrying it out. But this is still early in the process, and I don't think anybody expected that there would not be counterefforts by terrorists to undermine the security progress that we're trying to make.

McCain: Hang on a second. We're just getting the third of the five brigades over to Baghdad. This is early in the strategy being implemented. I fully expect the enemy to try to orchestrate more spectacular attacks such as rocketing the Green Zone and other acts which would understandably grab the attention and the headlines in the United States of America because they realize that if they can erode the American public's will, then they will be able to achieve success. This is a very tough incident. And it's very -- makes all of us sad for those public servants who have been injured or killed. But I don't think that that should change the larger picture, which means that we are achieving some small successes already in the strategy being employed by Gen. Petraeus and Gen. Odierno. So it's tragic and yet it's not unexpected that spectacular attacks would continue to try to be orchestrated by al-Qaida and other elements within Baghdad.

Rice: Thank you. Thank you very much.

McCain: Thank you very much.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Iraq War John Mccain R-ariz.