December 6th, 2009
03:51 PM ET
9 years ago

State of the Union: John King's Crib Sheet for December 6

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="In his Crib Sheet, CNN's John King looks back at Sunday's talk shows and ahead to the topics that will be making news this week."]
The president’s national security team dominated the Sunday landscape, fanning out to sell the administration’s new Afghanistan strategy, but perhaps creating at least a bit of rhetorical confusion along the way.

“We’re not talking about an exit strategy,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in one of three TV interviews she taped Saturday for airing Sunday.

National Security Adviser retired Gen. James Jones said the July 2011 date cited by the president in his speech last week was the beginning of a “ramp” to bring U.S. troops home.

“There’s no timeline – no ramp,” was the characterization of Gen. David Petraeus.

Different members of the team, different language. Not a problem unless the end result is a lack of clarity. Let’s begin then with a montage from the president’s’ war council – and you be the judge of their communications skills:

National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones (Ret.) on CNN’s State of the Union
“It is not a cliff. It's a glide slope. So, certainly, the president has also said that we're not leaving Afghanistan.”
Defense Secretary Robert Gates on ABC’s “This Week”
“This is a transition that's going to take place. And it's not an arbitrary date.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on CBS's "Face the Nation"
“We want to show urgency about our aims here. And we do expect to start this transition in July 2011.”
National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones (Ret.) on CNN’s “State of the Union”
King: “Where's the end of the ramp? If the beginning is 2011, where's the end of the ramp? 2015, 2020?”
Gen. Jones: “The end of the ramp will be predicated on exactly how much progress we're making”

CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus on “Fox News Sunday”
“There's no timeline, no ramp, nothing like that. Again, I think it's very important to note, as many have observed, this is not - this doesn't trigger a rush to the exits.”
More Sound of Sunday on the war front, broken down, roughly, along policy and political lines.


National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones (Ret.) on CNN’s State of the Union
“We have strategic interests in South Asia that should not be measured in terms of finite times. We're going to be in the region for a long time. We want it to be - we want this relationship to be, as we have with all struggling democracies, we want to be helpful. We wanted to transition from more of a purely military relationship to a civilian relationship.”

National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones (Ret.) on CNN’s “State of the Union”
“…the most important thing that we need to achieve strategically in the next two years is to work with our friends in Pakistan and make sure that these safe havens are eliminated. If that happens, everyone agrees that if that happens, the strategic effect to the west, in this - in the country of Afghanistan, will be much, much easier. If the safe havens stay, then the problem is longer and more difficult.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on CBS's "Face the Nation"
“There isn't a deadline. What we have is a specific date on which we will begin transferring responsibility for security district by district, province by province in Afghanistan to the Afghans. The process of that and the subsequent thinning of our forces will take place over a period of time and will happen and will be done based on conditions on the ground. And the decision on that will be made by our commanders in the field.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on NBC’s "Meet the Press"
“We will begin to thin our forces and begin to bring them home, but the pace of bringing them home and where we will bring them home from will depend on the circumstances on the ground and those judgments will be made by our commanders in the field.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on NBC's "Meet the Press"
“Our commanders think that these additional forces and one of the reasons for the president's decision to try and accelerate their deployment is the view that this extended surge has the opportunity to make significant gains in terms of reversing the momentum of the Taliban, denying control of Afghan territory and degrading their capabilities”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on CBS's "Face the Nation"
“… we've said very clearly that our aid is going to be based on a certification of accountability and transparency. So there are certain ministries we will not, American money will not be going to. We've looked at every civilian assistance program and contract and we've said, 'look, we're not going to just aid and abet bad behavior.' So we will be putting the money where, as Bob said, we think we've got people who are doing a good job. And they are. And so part of the challenge here is to begin to make the more difficult, complicated assessments that were not made before.”

CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus on “Fox News Sunday”
“And again, there's no - there's no timeline, no ramp, nothing like that. Again, I think it's very important to note, as many have observed, this is not - this doesn't trigger a rush to the exits. It triggers a beginning of transition to Afghan security forces and over time a beginning of transition of tasks to Afghan governmental elements as well.”

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) on CNN’s “State of the Union” weighs in on the Afghan President
“I believe he can be successful, but he's got to commit himself to those goals, and there's no question that there is corruption within his administration and, some assert, within his family. As a result, again, when I was in - in Kandahar, for example, tribal leaders there were very distrustful of him, and they wanted us to stay and to be able to rely on our commitment. So he's going to have to change his ways. But I know he's a - a smart leader. He knows our support is not unlimited.”


Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on NBC's "Meet the Press"
“I have every confidence within a year to 18 months we can achieve success. We were able to do that in Iraq. We will leave and not allow the Taliban to make comments like Taliban prisoners are saying - you've got the watches and we've got the time. We don't want to send that message.”

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) on ABC’s “This Week”
“I'm afraid that the president's idea, which is to set a date when we may start withdrawing troops, gives nobody anything they want. It doesn't give the Afghan people the belief that we're actually leaving, it doesn't give the American people any confidence that we have a plan to finally this. But I think the best thing we can do is to have a real timetable, a flexible timetable that says look, we're going to continue this for a reasonable period but it is not a top priority in going after Al Qaeda, it is certainly not the top priority for the people of the united states given our economic problems. So from neither an international nor national level, does it make sense, to put so many resources into a place that doesn't even involve our basic national security.”

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) on “Fox News Sunday”
“I understand the President took the time to reach this decision after more than seven years. We were at a point where we had to really reassess our strategy. I'm skeptical as to whether 30,000 more troops will make a difference. We have over 200,000 now when you count NATO forces, American forces, and afghan military forces. But I think at this point the president is moving forward. The thing that I find encouraging you probably find discouraging and that is the fact that he has said to the leader of Afghanistan, Mr. Karzai, there's a limit beyond which we will not leave American troops. We're not going to make Afghanistan a protectorate of the United States.”


National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones (Ret.) on CNN’s State of the Union 
“The best estimate is that he is somewhere in North Waziristan, sometimes on the Pakistani side of the border, sometimes on the Afghan side of the border. …we're going to have to get after that to make sure that this very, very important symbol of what al Qaeda stands for is either, once again, on the run or captured or killed.”

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on ABC’s “This Week”
GATES: “ …we don't know for a fact where Osama bin Laden is. If we did, we'd go get him. But...
STEPHANOPOULOS:  When was the last time we had any good intelligence on where he was?
GATES:  I think it's been years. 
GATES:  I think so.   
STEPHANOPOULOS:  So these reports that came out just this week about a detainee saying he might have seen him in Afghanistan earlier this year?
GATES:  No, that's...
STEPHANOPOULOS:  We can't confirm that. 
GATES:  No.”


National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones (Ret.) on the administration’s outreach to Iran
“That clock's ticking. The door is still open, but, unfortunately, the picture Iran is painting is not a good one. But we are still open to negotiations. The IAEA is still working feverishlyto try to bring this about. What's on the table is very logical, very fair, very reasonable.And if Iran wanted to signal to the world that it wishes to participate more fully in the family of nations, this is a very, very good way for them to do this. “

National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones (Ret.) on efforts to close the Guantanamo Bay prison
“I think the important thing is that it's moving in the right direction. The president is still insisting that we will close the facility, and we're working on finding new solutions. It won't - we won't meet the target date, unfortunately, but - but the important thing for the American people...
KING: Three months, six months, any idea?
JONES: Oh, I think before that, but - but within that timeframe.
KING: Within that time?
JONES: Yes, I think so.”


Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) on “Fox News Sunday” on whether or not the health care debate has stalled in the Senate:
“Not at all. We are down, thanks to Senator Harry Reid's leadership, we're down to two major issues, abortion and public option. I think we're coming to closure on those issues. We're likely to come to a vote on the abortion question maybe by tomorrow. The President is going to come in and urge us to bring this ball across the line, to finish this, as he should. This is an historic opportunity.”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on CNN’s “State of the Union”
King: “If you needed the President to solve one problem today, to help things move forward, what would it be?”
Feinstein: “Well, to get 60 votes. If we have 60 votes, we move, and it gets done.”

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) on CNN’s “State of the Union” on T.A.R.P. money
“Our view would be, take some of the unspent stimulus money. That's what it was supposed to go for. The T.A.R.P. money that's returned to the treasury is supposed to be used for retiring our debt, or not allowing our debt to continue to rise, as it has been. I think we would like to see that - the T.A.R.P. money applied to the debt and use this unspent stimulus money to more directly create jobs.”

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney responds to some of the president’s ideas to spur job growth on CNN’s “State of the Union”

“A number of those things reflect a good start. But they're not going to get the economy going again alone. You're going to have to have something far more substantial than that. And by the way, T.A.R.P. has served its purpose. T.A.R.P. ought to be ended. We've got hundreds of billions of dollars there that is being used as a slush fund by Secretary Geithner and the Obama administration. Stop the T.A.R.P. recklessness at this point and get ourselves back to creating jobs by encouraging businesses to grow, expand their capital expenditures and hire."

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday and the week ahead,
John King

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soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Karzai wants Americans to be patience, if that's not a slap in the face while our troops are dying. People don't shoot at you if they want you there and it's unclear whose doing it; is it al Qaeda or Karzai's Taliban, he's got to be one or the other.

    December 6, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  2. B

    It is all conflicting language because there is NO REAL exit strategy !

    Two years from now we will have gone through several so called strategy redirections. It is, and will remain an Open-ended War.

    "We can’t leave now while we are making progress"........ for years, more lives ,and another Trillion dollars that we do not have!


    December 6, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  3. Lynne

    CNN made a huge mistake giving Republican John King a weekday show. You should have given it to John Roberts who is pone of the most nonpartisan members of CNN, who always does a throrough, thoughtful interview without some agenda in mind and is wasted in the morning.

    December 6, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  4. Texas Longhorn talks Truth

    There is no cummication forcoming from this bunch. If you can understand them then you must understand the Los Angles gutter talk.

    December 6, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  5. Hendrik

    Another one of John King's specials. The man is a total Republican who grills Democrats and soft balls the Republicans. He will make a good replacement for Lous "Dentures" Dobbs. King has been covering Republican presidential campaigns so long he has Stockholm syndrome. He identifies with the fringe right.

    December 6, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  6. Carnell From The Motor City!

    Why Does HypocriCNN Spend So Much Of Its Time Worried About What's Said On Other News Or Political Programs. Oh I Get It, You All Are Currently In Last Place Against MSNBC And Fox News Channel.

    December 6, 2009 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |