Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Wash Post' Epic -- with 6 Bylines -- Explores 'Surge'

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Wash Post' Epic -- with 6 Bylines -- Explores 'Surge'

Article excerpt

It's not often that an article in The Washington Post carries six bylines, but it happens today under the headline: "Among Top Officials, 'Surge' Has Sparked Dissent, Infighting."

The writers are Peter Baker, Karen DeYoung, Thomas E. Ricks, Ann Scott Tyson, Joby Warrick and Robin Wright. It comes on the eve of the appearance by General David Petraeus before congress.

It opens as follows, and is available at www.washingtonpost.com.*

For two hours, President Bush listened to contrasting visions of the U.S. future in Iraq. Gen. David H. Petraeus dominated the conversation by video link from Baghdad, making the case to keep as many troops as long as possible to cement any security progress. Adm. William J. Fallon, his superior, argued instead for accepting more risks in Iraq, officials said, in order to have enough forces available to confront other potential threats in the region.

The polite discussion in the White House Situation Room a week ago masked a sharper clash over the U.S. venture in Iraq, one that has been building since Fallon, chief of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees Middle East operations, sent a rear admiral to Baghdad this summer to gather information. Soon afterward, officials said, Fallon began developing plans to redefine the U.S. mission and radically draw down troops.

One of those plans, according to a Centcom officer, involved slashing U.S. combat forces in Iraq by three-quarters by 2010. In an interview, Fallon disputed that description but declined to offer details. Nonetheless, his efforts offended Petraeus's team, which saw them as unwelcome intrusion on their own long-term planning. The profoundly different views of the U.S. role in Iraq only exacerbated the schism between the two men.

"Bad relations?" said a senior civilian official with a laugh. …

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