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Judge Denies Libby Request; Reid Criticizes Military Leadership

A federal judge ruled that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby cannot delay his prison sentence while he appeals his conviction, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he had lost confidence in Gen. Peter Pace. NewsHour analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss these and other headlines.

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    And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    David, what did you make of Defense Secretary Gates' criticism today of the Iraqi government, saying they have not made the progress on reconciliation that was needed and that was expected by the United States?

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    A firm grasp of the obvious. They've been beating these guys over the head for years now to pass the oil law, to pass the de-Baathification law, to get some regional elections going. They've been beating them and beating them.

    And the big problem is, the timetables don't overlap. The American political timetable really stretches until September, maybe; the Iraqis behave as if they've got 30 years. And so that's the problem the U.S. has been dealing with.

    I think eventually you've got to come to the point that maybe the Sunnis and Shiites are not reaching agreements, not because we're not pressuring them in the right way, but because they're fundamentally incapable of reaching agreements and deal with that fact.


    Can that be true, Mark?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    It could be true, Jim. And I think that…


    That all the pressure in the world isn't going to change what's happening on the ground?


    I don't know how you communicate a sense of urgency anymore than has been tried already, I mean, unless you just start pulling people out contingent upon their acting. I thought his statement about General Petraeus…


    I was going to ask about that.


    I thought that was revealing, because there was a recent national survey, and they asked 15 major, prominent American individuals, "Whom do you believe when this person speaks about Iraq, about what's really going on?" The 15, the president finished 14th, and the vice president finished 15th in believability and credibility. Number one was General Petraeus by a wide margin. So Harry Reid and other Democrats criticizing General Petraeus…


    Which is what Gates was responding to.


    … that's right — is a fool's errand. I mean, it makes no sense.


    And you read it the same way?


    Yes, Harry Reid has a history of saying stupid things. And this was extraordinarily stupid to say, David Petraeus is out of touch, who not only has been there now, but has served there for years in the past. And what Petraeus was saying was something which was mixed and which may not have been reported fully, which was, in general, things are as they are, pretty terrible, but there are some neighborhoods in Baghdad where you've got some amusement parks going, cafes opening.

    And so he was acknowledging there are some good things and it's not all bad, but he was not saying it's all good. Harry Reid reacted like any positive statement is a sign of betrayal of the truth. And Petraeus is still the most trustworthy source on this.

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