Associated Press reporter Ben Feller needs a better copy editor to keep him from inventing history for Barack Obama. Near the end of a dispatch filed early Saturday morning on the president’s speech at Camp Lejeune on Iraq, Feller claimed:
The president who voted against the war as senator and ran against in his upstart White House bid said the Iraq conflict is one huge, painful lesson.
The vote authorizing President Bush to wage combat operations in Iraq was on October 11, 2002, and Obama wasn’t elected until 2004. Then Feller failed to note Obama’s "no" vote in the Senate on Bush’s successful surge of troops, although this may have been the most critical-sounding passage in his story:
He applauded the armed forces for its successes in Iraq, where U.S. deaths and violence in many parts of the country are significantly down. He never credited Bush's buildup of troops in 2007 as contributing to those improvements.
Feller opened with a flourish: "President Barack Obama consigned the Iraq war to history Friday, declaring he will end combat operations within 18 months and open a new era of diplomacy in the Middle East."
It also contained several paragraphs that slapped at the last president:
Just six weeks into office, Obama used blunt terms and a cast-in-stone promise to write the last chapter of a war that began six years ago. It has cost more in lives, money and national stamina than ever envisioned....
More than five years have passed since Bush declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq, a statement that proved false as sectarian violence brought Iraq to the brink of disaster.
Obama did not claim a mission accomplished. Instead, he suggested America accomplished the mission as best it could.