The following are the statements to fact-check from the June 27, 2010 episode of Meet the Press:

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Statements are listed in chronological order


1) White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel appeared on Meet the Press on June 20, 2010.

2) Last week White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel reiterated the Obama administration’s plan to begin withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in mid-2011.

3) The president’s spokesperson [Robert Gibbs?] said, regarding the date for the beginning of withdrawal, “It’s etched in stone, and he has the chisel.”

4) US Troops are “in some ways” confused about what the long term strategy is in Afghanistan.

5) A high ranking Taliban prisoner said, “You’ve got the watches, and we’ve got the time.”

SEN. McCAIN: I think that that’s a fairly accurate description of the situation in Afghanistan. I think that it’s pretty obvious that the effort in Marjah did not achieve the elements of success certainly quickly enough. The offensive into Kandahar has been delayed–which, by the way, argues against this setting a date certain for beginning the withdrawal. A lot of the behavior that Karzai is displaying, a lot of the things that are going on right now are a direct result of the president’s commitment to beginning withdrawal–whatever not turn “out the lights” means. That’s an indecipherable statement. Rahm Emanuel on your program last, last Sunday reiterated the commitment to leaving middle of 2011. The president’s spokesperson said, “It’s etched in stone, and he has the chisel.” So people in the region, they can’t leave. They have to adjust and they have to accommodate. And Karzai is doing some of the things he’s doing because he’s not confident that we’re going to stay. The troops on the ground are, are in some ways confused about what the long-term strategy would be. And I guess the best example I can tell you is a high-ranking Taliban prisoner said, “You’ve got the watches, and we’ve got the time.” And that’s what is, is pervading this entire environment, the fact that they think we’re–that we’re going to leave. And if they believe that, then they are going to act very differently.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ) | No military adviser recommended to President Obama that he set a date of mid-2011 for the beginning of withdrawl of coalition forces from Afghanistan.

SEN. McCAIN: Look, I, I’m against a timetable. In wars, you declare when you’re leaving after you’ve succeeded. And, by the way, no military adviser recommended to the president that he set a date of the middle of 2011. So it was purely a political decision, not one based on facts on the ground, not based on military strategy or anything. Now…

MR. GREGORY: All–Senator, is that fair? All of his military advisers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Petraeus, General McChrystal, they all signed onto the idea…

SEN. McCAIN: They signed onto it…

MR. GREGORY: …of July. 2011. Well, isn’t it their obligation to say…

SEN. McCAIN: It’s not their idea.

MR. GREGORY: …that this is wrong?

SEN. McCAIN: In my view it is.

MR. GREGORY: Well, they didn’t do that, though.

SEN. McCAIN: In my view it is. They didn’t.

MR. GREGORY: So they were for it.

SEN. McCAIN: They didn’t do it. They didn’t do it, and they should have because they know better.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ) | The US timetable for withdrawal from Iraq was established after the “surge.” [or “after it was succeeding”]

SEN. McCAIN: We may need more troops. We may need more as we did…

MR. GREGORY: But did we do that in Iraq? Didn’t we set a timetable…

SEN. McCAIN: After.

MR. GREGORY: …after we surged up…

SEN. McCAIN: After we succeeded, after we were succeeding, yes indeed. And we should.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ) | US allies in the war in Afghanistan have not contributed the 10,000 troops as part of the overall 40,000 troop increase.

SEN. McCAIN: I think there should be constant reviews. And that review, by the way, will show that we have not seen the pace of success. And, by the way, we have not seen our allies contribute the 10,000 troops that were part of this overall strategy of 40,000 troops that would be engaged in this surge.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ) | [Not sure this is a check so much as an exchange in need of clarification]

MR. GREGORY: What are the consequences of success? Tom Friedman wrote in his column this week something very poignant, and I’ll put it up on the screen. “What do we win if we win? At least in Iraq, if we eventually produce a decent democratizing government, we will, at enormous cost, have changed the politics in a great Arab capital in the heart of the Arab Muslim world. That can have wide resonance. Change Afghanistan at enormous cost and you’ve changed Afghanistan-period. Afghanistan does not resonate.”

SEN. McCAIN: Well, I have the greatest respect for Tom Ridge, I think both books…

MR. GREGORY: Tom Friedman.

SEN. McCAIN: Excuse me, I’m sorry, Tom Ricks I have the greatest respect for.


SEN. McCAIN: Mr. Friedman was wrong about Iraq. He said we couldn’t succeed in Iraq. He said we’d fail, we had to withdraw. Enough said.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ) | The Afghan Army consists of excellent fighters and is functioning properly.

SEN. McCAIN: It’s, it’s gauge–no, no. It’s, it’s again, like other counterinsurgencies, and this is a counterinsurgency based on the same principles but very different conditions than we had in Iraq. And that means that gradually we will clear, hold, make the people that support the government and against the Taliban, which they already are, an Afghan army–and, by the way, they are very excellent fighters that is functioning, and the corruption is a huge problem.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN (R-AZ) | Elena Kagan showed “steadfast” and “zealous” opposition to military recruiters while at Harvard University.

SEN. McCAIN: I want to look at–watch the hearings. The hearings, I think, are always very important. But I’ll tell you one thing I’m disturbed about was her obvious steadfast and even zealous opposition to military recruiters, to the presence of military on the campus of the most prestigious university, in, in the view of many, in America.


1) Phoenix, AZ averages the second highest numbers of kidnappings in the world.

2) A police chief in Nogales said that the officers are being told they will be murdered by the Mexican drug cartels.

3) As a result of  violence and the influence of the Mexican drug cartels, the Arizona [or US?] government has installed signs in the southern part of Arizona warning people they are in a drug and human smuggling area.

SEN. McCAIN: Not until we get the borders secure. By the way, on that issue, why is it that Phoenix, Arizona, is the number two kidnapping capital of the world? Does that mean our border’s safe? Of course not. Why is it that the police chief in Nogales reported that his police officers are being told they’re going to be murdered by the drug cartels on the other side of the border? The, the rise of violence and the influence of the drug cartels and the human smugglers have made our government put up signs in the southern part of the state of Arizona warning them that they are in a drug smuggling and human smuggling area of this country. That’s not, that’s not how America should…


1) The Mexican drug cartel movement across the border has “dramatically” increased.

2) 23,000 thousand people have been killed in Mexico in the last 3 years.

MR. GREGORY: Do you agree with the governor of Arizona who says that most people who come across the border illegally are actually drug mules?

SEN. McCAIN: No. I think that there’s a large number and I think she’s right in that the drug cartels movement has dramatically increased and the violence. Twenty-three thousand people, Mexicans, have been killed in the last three years in Mexico.


1) There have been 7,000 US casualties from the war in Afghanistan.

2) The war costs $5.4 billion a month.

3) The American public does not support the war.

GEN. McCAFFREY (Ret.): Sure. Look, this is a political dilemma, not a military one. There’s 7,000 killed and wounded, $5.4 billion a month, the American people don’t support the war. We have a goofy, incompetent Afghan government. We’re trying to build an Afghan security force and get it largely done in a very short period of time. None of this is going to work the way we’re going about it. So, again, back to, I think, the congresswoman’s remarks, you either got to pull out in, in a stated time frame with huge negative consequences, potentially, to Pakistan, the Afghans themselves, U.S. foreign policy; or you, you announce that we’re in there until we have achieved a stable political system in Afghanistan.

WES MOORE | During his deployment in Afghanistan, there were 19,000 US troops in the country.

MR. MOORE: Well, I think it’s important to understand that we are going on close to 10 years. But this war has not been a priority for close to 10 years. I mean, in the time when I was over there, we had around–a little over 19,000 troops on the ground to cover a land mass that is 50 percent larger than Iraq.

WES MOORE | There has been a 30% increase in Afghan security force participation.

MR. MOORE: Well, I think the indication that we have right now is that the system that we have in place and the systems that we put in place over the past few years are actually starting to show some results. We have a 30 percent increase in Afghan security force participation. We now are finally seeing complete integration between the civilian side and military side.


1) According to the Human Rights Watch organization, 16,000 Afghan civilians have died during the US war in Afghanistan.

2) According to the Human Rights Watch organization, 400,000 Afghan civilians died during the time of Taliban control.

MR. JUNGER: I’ve been reporting from Afghanistan since ’96, for the first 10 years of that, from the perspective of the civilian population. It’s of incredible concern to me. I mean, human–these are human rights watch figures. Since NATO has been there, 16,000 Afghan civilians have died in combat operations. It’s a horrifying number. That ended a period of violence in Afghanistan under the Taliban where 400,000 Afghans were killed.

REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA) | The American public does not support the war and would like it to end.

REP. LEE: The American people are war weary. This [Afghanstian] is an endless war, and they want it to come to an end.

SEBASTIAN JUNGER | According to polls in early 2002, 90% of Afghans supported the US invasion of Afghanistan.

MR. JUNGER: Let me just jump in. I was in Kabul in ’01 after Kabul fell, after the Taliban were toppled. I was getting hugged by Afghans because I was American, because they hated the Taliban so much. Ninety–I don’t know who does these surveys, 90 percent of Afghans–after 9/11, in early ’02, 90 percent of Afghans supported the U.S. military action that, that destroyed the Taliban. So you really–the word occupation really is not accurate.

REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA) | General Jones said that there are less than 100 members of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

REP. LEE: David, General…

MR. GREGORY: Yeah, yeah.

REP. LEE: …Jones actually indicated that, I believe, less than 100 members of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

TOM RICKS (Foreign Policy) | Military personnel make up 1% of the US population.

MR. RICKS: Yeah. It reminds me of something Ryan Crocker, the ambassador in Iraq, used to say, “Just because you walk out of a movie doesn’t mean it’s over.” Just because you walk out of Afghanistan doesn’t mean it’s over. We’re all sick of the war in Afghanistan. Nobody’s sicker than the U.S. military. I actually think one reason McChrystal blew up on the launching pad was because he and his guys are tired. They’ve been doing this for years. The U.S. military is 1 percent of this country, and it’s carrying 99 percent of the burden of the war.

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