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Hardball: Ari Fleischer can't name vet used in campaign ad
David Edwards and Nick Juliano
Published: Wednesday August 22, 2007


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Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer insists that all Americans are "making sacrifices" as the US occupation of Iraq trundles through its fifth year, although the real sacrifice of a veteran who left both his legs on an Iraqi battlefield isn't enough for Fleischer to remember the man's name.

In an appearance on MSNBC's Hardball Wednesday, Fleischer was promoting his new organization, Freedom's Watch, which has started a multi-million dollar pro-war advertising campaign that uses emotional footage of wounded veterans juxtaposed against 9/11 images to argue against de-escalation in Iraq.

After Hardball aired a clip of the first ad to be run by the group, Fleischer was unable to name double-amputee, Sgt. John Kriesel, who warns, "They attacked us," in a 9/11 reference used to bolster support of Iraq.

On the conflation of Iraq and 9/11, Fleischer says it is irrelevant that mostly Saudi terrorists -- and no Iraqis -- attacked the US.

"It's not about the 2002 decision to go into Iraq. It's about terrorism that exists in Iraq today. It's about al Qaeda shooting at our troops today and whether or not Congress is going to abandon this mission," Fleischer said. "The 2002 debate is an old, stale debate. ... You can relive that all you want; our troops aren't reliving that."

The man responsible for articulating White House policy during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq said it was irrelevant that Iraq didn't attack the United States. He claimed it was akin to saying the US shouldn't have fought Germany in World War II because it was Japan that attacked at Pearl Harbor. Asked about the comparative level of sacrifice between then and now, Fleischer said Americans today are sacrificing just as much as those in the "Greatest Generation."

"I think everybody in this country is making a sacrifice. We all do every time a soldier loses his or her life," Fleischer said. "This military is all of our military. ... Every time a life is lost, we all lose, we all have made a sacrifice, some more than others."

After Fleischer's appearance, Paul Rieckhoff, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, slammed the former White House mouthpiece.

"What bothered me most is that Ari Fleischer didn't even know the guy's name. He's willing to run a multi-million dollar campaign utilizing the personal story of a soldier, and he couldn't tell you on national TV what that soldier's name is," Rieckhoff said "It's a problematic trend. People on both sides of the aisle but especially the president and this administration have continued to use troops as a prop, as a backdrop for political rhetoric. ... Our troops are not political props and they're not chew toys."

The following video is from MSNBC's Hardball, broadcast on August 22.