White House spokesman Robert Gibbs "lucked out" and had the day off after his entire testimony on Iraq blew up, from Iraqi generals to the US Defense Secretary.
"We've an agreement with the Iraqis that both governments have agreed to that we will be out of Iraq at the end of 2011," Robert Gates said Wednesday night. "If a new government is formed there and they want to talk about beyond 2011, we're obviously open to that discussion. But that initiative will have to come from the Iraqis."
But there's no shortage of propaganda from the White House. State Department spokesman Mark Toner provided an accurate, if unintentional, description of where current negotiations stand between Israel, America, and the Palestinians:
"QUESTION: Change of subject onto Senator Mitchell’s visit?
MR. TONER: Yes.
QUESTION: Despite some pretty upbeat or at least sort of optimistic comments from the podium and from the Secretary yesterday, Israeli newspapers are saying – some Israeli newspapers are saying that Netanyahu actually turned down Senator Mitchell’s pitch and explicitly rejected the idea of starting talks based on a Quartet statement, which might set terms of reference for them, i.e. no preconditions.
Can you tell us, is it your view – I mean, they’re saying Mitchell failed to get the talks on track. What’s your understanding of where things are?
MR. TONER: Well, Senator Mitchell is back in the United States, I believe, in New York today. We believe he had good, productive meetings, both with President Abbas as well as with Prime Minister Netanyahu. I’m not going to parse the opinions of the Israeli media. We believe, however, that progress was made. We continue on track. Obviously, we’re working through the details, but we have confidence that we’re moving in the right direction and ultimately will be successful.
QUESTION: Could you tell us any more information about – are discussions going on within the Quartet now about this statement? Is the Secretary having any more communication with other Quartet representatives or anyone else at the --
MR. TONER: I believe that kind of communication is ongoing and considering that we’re – that – considering the engagement that’s taking place right now, I would imagine that that kind of communication is ongoing. But I don’t have any specific details to add.
QUESTION: Mark, yesterday –
MR. TONER: Yeah, go ahead.
QUESTION: -- a Palestinian spokesman said that actually, they were deadlocked. And today, we have the Israeli position saying that we are turning down any kind of Quartet cover. So where do you stand? I mean, what is – will you call for negotiations without any kind of Quartet statement of not under any kind of Quartet aid or auspices and so on? Would that be your next step?
MR. TONER: I think I’ll just stick with what I just said which is that we believe that he had good productive meetings, that we’re making progress. Obviously, there are details to be worked out, but we believe we’re getting closer."