"We did prevail"

The White House spin on "mission accomplished."

Published May 1, 2007 3:50PM (EDT)

As Air Force One flew the president and his press corps to Florida this morning, Dana Perino was asked if her boss regrets making "the 'mission accomplished' speech."

Perino: Look, I've never heard him describe it that way, absolutely not. Let me just remind everybody, in case you need it, that speech there, I encourage people to read it. The president never said 'mission accomplished.' I realize that the banner said 'mission accomplished.' That was specific to the mission of that ship. They were supposed to be deployed for six months. They were deployed well beyond that. I think they'd gone to both Iraq and Afghanistan. And that's what that banner was referring to. But I'm not going to --

Reporter: He did say: "In the battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed."

Perino: We did prevail, in terms of toppling the Iraqi army and Saddam Hussein. And several months later, 12 million Iraqis voted for a new government and a constitution. And things looked very promising. And the president did believe that at the end of 2006, he would be announcing basically what was in the Baker-Hamilton report. Unfortunately, the sectarian violence had grown to the extent that the president, in the fall of 2006, underwent an extensive review to decide on a new strategy in Iraq, of which he announced on January 10, 2007. And the president believes that helping the Iraqi people now is critical. He disagrees with the idea of a time -- a date to tell the enemy exactly when we're going to leave, because it would leave a vacuum that would only lead to many more deaths of the innocent men, women and children of Iraq, destabilize the region. And that is surely not in the long-term interests of the national security of our country.

By Tim Grieve

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

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