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Pelosi: It's 'sad' Bush is blaming Iraqi insurgent violence on al-Qaeda

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Ron Brynaert
Published: Tuesday November 28, 2006

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House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters on Wednesday that she feels it is "sad" that President Bush continues to blame Iraqi insurgent violence on al Qaeda.

"My thoughts on the president's representations are well-known," Pelosi said. "The 9/11 Commission dismissed that notion a long time ago and I feel sad that the president is resorting to it again."

During a joint press conference with the president of Estonia, Bush was asked by a reporter if he worried that calling the situation in Iraq "a civil war would make it difficult to argue that we're fighting the central front of the war on terror there."

Bush responded that "there's all kinds of speculation about what may be or not happening."

"There's a lot of sectarian violence taking place, fomented, in my opinion, because of these attacks by al Qaeda, causing people to seek reprisal," Bush said. "And we will work with the Maliki government to defeat these elements."

Pelosi's statement also followed a press briefing in Baghdad earlier today, where a US military spokesman was unable to state clearly what role al Qaeda plays in Iraq violence.

Displaying a series of slides and charts, the spokesman for the multinational forces in Iraq claimed that "since October of 2004, we have now killed or captured over 7,000 al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists."

According to Major General William Caldwell, because Iraq still has a "government moving forward" with "institutions in place," and because al Qaeda in Iraq seeks "anarchy" instead of power, the current situation should not be considered a "civil war."

"We don't see an organization out there that's looking to assume the control of this country, but rather just to create anarchy, to create death, to create destruction, and that's in fact what we're combatting right now," Caldwell said.

A reporter argued that "all of those things that you've just outlined as measures of success, functioning institutions, all of those things still fit within every academic and every strategic think tank's definition of civil war anyway," but Caldwell resisted multiple entreaties to define what he considered a "civil war."

"Well, what I would tell you, Michael -- again, I can only back to -- if in fact all the governmental functions are still functioning, and we don't see an organization out there that's trying to overthrow and assume control of the government, we don't see two viable entities out there like that, what we see is a(n) entity out there that's been duly elected, representative of the people, that's got plenty of challenges in trying to work through all their difficulties but moving forward nonetheless, and we see another entity that wants to do nothing but create division amongst the people, to create anarchy, to create casualties, to separate them," Caldwell said.

A journalist asked the spokesman, "You keep saying al Qaeda in Iraq. What proportion of the Sunni resistance do you think al Qaeda in Iraq is responsible for? It's a handy tag, but in reality is it 10 percent, 50 percent of what we would loosely call Sunni resistance or insurgency?"

Caldwell didn't have an answer to the question. "We also, you know, look at that also very closely, try to identify exactly what percentage it is," he said. "What we do know is that al Qaeda in Iraq are the most well-funded, produce the most sensational attacks than any element out there. So that's where we put our predominant effort against."