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Tony Snow and 'The Nomenclature Game'

From Monday's White House Briefing:

Q He also said we are losing.

SNOW: Well, yes, he did. He said -- the way he put it was, he said, we haven't lost, is what he said. He did not say we were losing. He said we have --

Q He said, "we are losing," and then he said, "we haven't lost." He said both.

SNOW: No, no, he said, "If it's grave and deteriorating, and we're not winning, we are losing." That was his, "we haven't lost." So that's his characterization of the situation. He also made it clear that in his view, that the proper -- that he suspected that the President was going to pursue a strategy that would, in fact, attack the kinds of problems that we're discussing -- political reconciliation, building capability among the Iraqis, the recognition that the Iraqis, themselves, ultimately had to have responsibility for taking care of things, and that, again, whatever you did, you had to make sure that the military had a clear mission. I don't see any big disagreement.


Q Secretary Powell also acknowledged that it is a civil war. Why won't you make the same acknowledgment?

SNOW: Well, again, because I'm not going to get into the nomenclature game. What you have is a situation of sectarian violence, and it's of concern to us.


Q Just to be clear, you don't see any big disagreement on Powell's part with the President, or are you saying you don't see any big disagreement on your part with what Secretary Powell --

SNOW: No, I think when you look at the parts that I highlighted, these are all things that the President has talked about in recent weeks.


Q He also says we don't have enough troops to secure Baghdad; we just don't have them.

SNOW: Right. He's making the obvious point that the United States is working with the Iraqis in securing Baghdad. What he's making the obvious point is that U.S. forces alone will not "secure Baghdad." And that's where it gets back to asking your basic questions: How do you work together? And you'll note that he made the pivot there to the necessity for Iraqis to assume primary control over security operations. And they talked about the fact that, in fact, they are increasingly taking command of security.


Q Tony, his point goes beyond that. His point is -- at a time when the government or the administration is apparently sending a surge of 25,000 to 50,000 more troops in -- his point, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is, we don't have the troops.

SNOW: No, if you take a look, he talked about stretch -- but, again, I'm not going -- what you're trying to do is to draw me in to a discussion of options. We will discuss those when the time comes. But what he said was -- let me just flip to it -- first, number one, he says the situation is, in his opinion, recoverable. And the second is that he worried about some of the strains on the army, in particular.

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