MI: ...But at the end of the day, for the American body politick, this is about American dying in a war that Americans no longer think was justified to begin with, that feel very strongly that the country was misled into backing in the first place, the Congress was misled into backing in the first place, that has in many ways already been an enormous setback for American strategic interests around the world. I point you to nothing less than the National Intelligence Estimate last fall, which talked about how Iraq had become a rallying cry for jihadis around the world, and had increased the number of radical Islamicists who are dedicated to our destruction. So if the original case for the war was to combat the rising surge of Islamic radicalism, it has produced the opposite effect. So when Americans see a war that has been, at the end of the day, counterproductive, it’s hard for them to understand why Americans are still dying to…in what ultimate cause? A political solution that at best is going to produce a muddled resolution.
HH: And to me, that’s perfect pitch spin…
MI: It’s not perfect pitch spin. I mean, you’ve read the National Intelligence Estimate from last fall about…
HH: [Lawrence Wright] said absolutely, it is not the case it’s a strategic disaster. While there may be more jihadis in Iraq than there were before, it’s not like our intervention in Iraq created them, and he went on to characterize their camps in Mali, their camps in Gaza…
HH: Their Waziristan…that they are manufacturing…they were manufactured for a decade in Afghanistan.
HH: And now, they’re coming to al Anbar Province, because that’s where they can kill the great Satan. And so we’re not manufacturing them, we’re gathering them in one place…
HH: And they’re surging against us. That’s a different spin. I’m not saying it’s the facts on the ground, either.
HH: ...And Michael Isikoff, what do you see, if the Democrats have their way, what do you see happening there in five years?
MI: I mean, look. If any of us could foresee the future, and knew what Iraq was going to look like down the road, we’d be better off than anybody else in Washington.
HH: But we have to guess, right? We always have to guess.
MI: We have to guess. We have to guess. I mean, we know that a lot of bad guesses were made by this administration in the invasion.
HH: Again, that’s spin.
MI: No, no, no, no, no, no. We know that.
HH: Give me a specific.
MI: They did not…a specific?
HH: Of a bad guess.
MI: Did they anticipate the sectarian warfare that was going to take place?
HH: No. Okay…
MI: Did they tell the country that there’s a high risk that we’re going to be enmeshed in a civil war in Iraq, in which thousands of Americans…
HH: Civil war is itself a spin, though.
MI: Well, what do you call it?
HH: That is a characterization…I call it an insurrection, I call it an al Qaeda surge, I call it bad militias in Baghdad.
HH: But a civil war, where you’ve got Sunni and Shia…actually, the one thing Petraeus has also said…
MI: Fighting each other. Fighting each other. That’s…
HH: There are lots of definitions. It’s spin.
MI: The central argument [for war in Iraq] was weapons of mass destruction.
HH: That was Colin Powell. Again, that’s spin. Michael Isikoff, that’s spin.
Eventually, Isikoff seems to just give up. "Well, look. I mean, I guess if all political debate is spin," he tells Hewitt, "then we’re spinning. At the end of the day, people will look at the totality of the spin, and say which has more credibility at this point."