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Over the past couple of months, most of the rhetoric from top Bush administration officials about the public debate over Iraq has been fairly encourag

Over the past couple of months, most of the rhetoric from top Bush administration officials about the public debate over Iraq has been fairly encouraging. Sure, far-right activists have said dissent is treasonous. And sure, in February, when lawmakers were passing a non-binding resolution criticizing the escalation strategy, Tony Snow went so far as to suggest that the debate itself brought “comfort” to terrorists. But in practical terms, senior administration officials have made clear how wrong this is.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in April that demands in Congress for a timeline to withdraw are good for Iraq because they exert pressure on Iraq’s leaders. Condoleezza Rice used congressional debate the same way.

And yet, some shamelessly demagogic talking points apparently die hard.

The Pentagon told Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton that her questions about how the U.S. plans to eventually withdraw from Iraq boosts enemy propaganda.

In a stinging rebuke to a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Undersecretary of Defense Eric Edelman [said], “Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia."

Got that? Even discussing withdrawal helps the enemy.

Amanda helped explain how wrong Edelman, a former Cheney aide, is.

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