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Snow battles press over Iraq Study Group report: 'I'm not trying to be snide'

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Ron Brynaert
Published: Wednesday December 6, 2006

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White House spokesman Tony Snow battled the press during this afternoon's briefing over the significance of the bipartisan independent Iraq Study Group.

The group released a report this morning that called the situation in Iraq "grave and deteriorating" and recommended many changes to U.S. policy.

Snow took particular exception to a question asked by NBC's chief White House correspondent, David Gregory, characterizing it as too "partisan."

"On the evaluation of the report... the co-chairs say the following: 'stay the course is no longer viable'; 'the current approach is not working,' and; 'the situation is grave and deteriorating,'" Gregory said. "Chairman Hamilton says he is not sure whether the situation can be turned around."

"Can this report," asked Gregory, "be seen as anything other than a rejection of this President's handling of the war?"

Snow responded, "Absolutely."

The former Fox News Channel anchor said that while the quotes were from the report, he needed "to try to place them in context."

"Number one - they are not trying to score partisan points or to look back," said Snow. "The second thing is that they understand the difficulties."

Snow claimed that the Iraq Study Group "adopted the goals that the administration has laid out," and that Gregory and other White House reporters "understand that trying to frame it in a partisan way is actually at odds with what the group itself says it wanted to do."

"Let me be clear - are you suggesting that I'm trying to frame this in a partisan way?" Gregory asked.

"Let me put it this way," Snow responded. "Where in the report does [it say] what you have said is 'can you read this as anything other than a repudiation of policy' and the answer is I can."

"You're suggesting," a defiant Gregory then replied, "that the representations of this report are in sync with the way the President has described the reality in Iraq and his policy towards Iraq."

Snow said he wasn't trying to be "snide."

"Go through - rather than - because you'll accuse me of nitpicking - read it," Snow insisted. "I'm serious - I'm not trying to be snide."

"If you go through and you take a look at the metrics in the beginning, we've acknowledged that you've got a deteriorating situation in Baghdad," Snow maintained.