RUSH: Tony Snow, welcome to the program. How long have you been on hold?
SNOW: I’m doing fine. Good to be here, Rush.
RUSH: Good. How long have you been on hold? I’m sorry I’ve made you wait.
SNOW: No, I’ve just been on hold. It’s just been a matter of seconds.
RUSH: You just got here. Okay, great! Tony, I thought the interim report today — and I know you’re going to be talking about this but — I thought there’s so much good in this, and I spent the first segment of the first hour giving a big shout out to the troops because they deserve it. They’re doing yeoman’s work. They’ve only been at full strength for a month over there on the surge, and they need a great shout out. I thought the president was fabulous today. What should everybody know about these benchmarks in this interim report?
SNOW: Well, a couple things. First let me back up. The interim report is the beginning of a new kind of surge and it’s a surge of facts, because what’s happened with a lot of the war in Iraq, as you know, Rush, is that people get pictures of dead bodies, but they don’t get any sense of what’s actually going on on the ground — and today you got a little bit of that in terms of this interim report that says: Even though just a couple of weeks ago, even though when they were writing this report, we were just getting our last forces into place, if you take a look at the plan for Iraq — which was get your security picture first, then move on to political progress — guess what you find out? You find out that we’ve had a lot of success in security. Not only have the Iraqis stepped up — they’ve got three brigades in Baghdad; they’ve got stations now in all ten districts in Baghdad — we have seen a dramatic reversal in the thought processes of Iraqis in places like Anbar province, because all of a sudden they realized that they had a choice to go after Al-Qaeda, and the moment they realized somebody had their back, what did they do? They joined up with us; they went after Al-Qaeda. They’re doing it in Diyala province; they’re doing it in sections of Baghdad. In other words, people are responding the way you would think, which is: You give them a little bit of security, they’re going to follow the natural yearning to be free. So you’re absolutely right. The most important part of this report is the security piece. What you’re likely to hear is a little grumbling. ‘Well, they haven’t made the political benchmarks.’ Well, we’ve always said that politics would come after security — and it is. At some point, you know, the Iraqis do have to make a lot of the accommodations so the Iraqis look at their government as being their legitimate representative; they look at each other as neighbors rather than as feuding sects, and all of that is going to happen, but the first thing you’ve got a do is go after the bad guys that are going in and beheading kids, and destroying farms, and threatening families. These are invaders. These are Al-Qaeda invaders, many of whom come through Syria and it’s now time for the American people to wake up to, really, the heroic.
RUSH: Let me ask you a question about the political side of this — and I must admit that I made some comments on this in the first hour. But these benchmarks have been set up by Congress. We have a Congress right now run by the Democrats for seven and a half months, six and a half months. You talk about their benchmarks? They’re one out of seven. They’re not doing anything but harassing you people in the White House. They’re doing nothing. They launched 300 investigations in 100 days, and yet here they are trying to tell this fledgling democracy and parliament what to do and how soon to do it, when they can’t get anything done of any substance themselves.
SNOW: Well, they’d certainly rather investigate than legislate, wouldn’t they? They’ve been trying for seven months to drag the attorney general across the coals and they can’t get anything on him, but they’re still doing hearings. I think you’re right about that. I also think that the reason we need a surge in facts is a lot of members in Congress, Democrats and Republicans, they go back home and people say, ‘Get out of that war! It’s a terrible war!’ Well, that’s because all they see is a failure narrative that gets played out on their TV screens. On the other hand, when they start getting a glimpse of what our folks are doing, I think they’re going to change their minds. They’re going to say, ‘Well, wait a minute. These people are on a mission that is going to make us freer and safer in the long run, and it’s going to be the once-and-for-all refutation of terror.’ Americans don’t want to fail. They don’t want to leave in humiliation. They don’t want to give Bin Laden any talking points. And so I think we’ve got an opportunity over the next couple of months, not merely to lay out what’s going on but also General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker to say… By the way, these guys are not doing political shilling. This is a very realistic report and they’ll give you a snapshot. They’ll tell you what’s been achieved in the last two months. Americans want to win, ultimately. The president said it today. He said, ‘Look, all they want to know is we’re in this to win and we’ve got a plan for winning,’ and now it’s time for us to step up here at the White House, and around the country people will say, ‘Okay, we’re going to take a look benchmarks for victory, not for getting out.’
RUSH: We are talking with Tony Snow, the White House press secretary. Do something for me, for my audience. Define victory.
SNOW: Victory is an Iraqi government where everybody’s got their rights, where people can start earning a living; they can start planning not on how you fight against Al-Qaeda, but how you build a peaceful future. It is not the total absence of terror, because the terrorists are going to keep trying to go after it. But it’s basically an Iraq where the Iraqis take control of the key things: their security, their economy, their future.
RUSH: And the ability to resist an attempt by Al-Qaeda and Iran to take over the country.
SNOW: Absolutely, part and parcel of security. And, look, we’re going to be there. We’re going to have their back. It’s interesting —
RUSH: You know the dirty little secret is that if — if, and this is a hypothetical. If a Democrat wins the White House in ’08, they’re not pulling the troops out of there. They will not.
SNOW: Of course not. You see this all the time, Rush, which is on the political stump people go out and they say stuff that they know just isn’t true. They know it. The American people want somebody to say, ‘We’re going to leave the war and we’re going to have peace.’ They know perfectly well that if we leave, what you’re going to have is the equivalent of a detonation where terror is going to start emanating out from Iraq that’s going to gobble up the Middle East. It’s going to go to North Africa. It’s going to go to Europe. It’s going to go to Pakistan, and sooner or later it’s going to wash up on our shore and it’s going to be a big problem. They know this, and so it is absolutely irresponsible for anybody to think that you pull out of the fight before you win because, if you don’t, the American people and the whole world are huge losers.
RUSH: Well, but my point is politically the Democrats are misleading everybody. They would love to lose this war but they’d love that loss to be hung around the president’s neck.
RUSH: They’re not going to pull out. If they are running the country in ’08, they are not going to pull outta there and cause defeat and have it associated with them. The troops are not coming out of there until the situation you’ve described is established.
SNOW: Exactly right — and, you know what? One of the things I like about working for this president is he understands this, and what’s he trying to do? He is trying to give the next president, Democrat or Republican, the tools to win. One of the things he mentioned today is you gotta upgrade your surveillance program, the FISA Law, so that you can make sure if there are people plotting to kill us, that we can find out who they are and we can go after them. I mean, we’ve gotta make sure that we modernize the law so that we can do everything we can to protect the American people. He’s putting all that stuff in place. He’s creating a great big anti-terror toolbox for the next president of the United States, because, you know what? Al-Qaeda isn’t going to change just because there’s an election, and the next president is going to need the tools.
RUSH: Tony, thanks for your time. How are you doing personally?
SNOW: I am doing great. It’s great to be back on.
RUSH: You sound great. You sound like you’re ‘full of vim and vigor,’ as they said in the sixties.
SNOW: Yeah, vim and vigor. Look, man, I’m motivated. This is really important, and you know me, Rush. I never balk from a good fight.
RUSH: No, you never have. You never have. Well, we appreciate your time. It’s always nice to have you — and I’m sorry we got to you late.
SNOW: That’s okay. Thanks, my friend.
RUSH: Tony Snow at the White House.