White House Moves to Clarify Biden War Stance

Posted October 7, 2009 at 3:03pm

Vice President Joseph Biden told lawmakers during a White House meeting Tuesday that he did not advocate a strategy focused entirely on battling al-Qaida, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Wednesday.

Biden reportedly has advocated a strategy that would pull back U.S. troops in favor of precision-targeting of al-Qaida members using special forces, drones and other methods. But Gibbs suggested Biden sought to push back on the stories during Tuesday’s White House session with President Barack Obama and senior lawmakers.

“The vice president, himself, made the point yesterday that nobody — including himself — was talking about exclusively a counterterrorism strategy, which in the parlance of the military planners, would be to extract large numbers of troops that are there [and] use primarily mechanics and special forces,— Gibbs said.

Gibbs suggested Obama is headed down a middle road in this thinking, saying that Democrats as well as Republicans are likely to be disappointed by the president’s decision.

“I think the president said in this meeting that whatever decision he makes is not likely to make everybody happy. I think that’s probably safe to say on either end of the political spectrum,— Gibbs said.

While saying Obama’s announcement of his new strategy is still weeks away, Gibbs indicated the process is moving steadily along, saying troop levels could be discussed as early as a national security meeting scheduled for Friday. The White House has said Obama wants to get a fix on his strategy before he entertains troop levels.

Another meeting — one that could be the final of a series of marathon sessions between Obama and his top advisers — is scheduled for next week.