This week the President was asked if flying onto that aircraft carrier last May and speaking under a huge banner that read “Mission Accomplished” was a mistake since more Americans have died since he declared the war over than before. His answer: Bush told the press the Navy put up the banner, not the White House. The banner:
"was put up by the members of the USS Abraham Lincoln, saying that their mission was accomplished. I know it was attributed some how to some ingenious advance man from my staff -- they weren't that ingenious, by the way."
Actually, they were just that ingenious. The New York Times is reporting:
After the news conference, the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, carefully elaborated on the president's words.
The banner "was suggested by those on the ship," he said. "They asked us to do the production of the banner, and we did. They're the ones who put it up."
The man responsible for the banner, Scott Sforza, a former ABC producer now with the White House communications office, was traveling overseas on Tuesday and declined to answer questions. He is known for the production of the sophisticated backdrops that appear behind Mr. Bush with the White House message of the day, like "Helping Small Business," repeated over and over.
AFP is reporting that later McClellan admitted
"The Navy asked us to take care of the production of the banner."
Democrats are furious:
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, asked by reporters about the incident, called it "one of the most significant embarrassments of the entire Iraq experience so far.
"We've lost more lives since (Bush) declared victory than we lost prior to the time we declared victory. And this latest fabrication is yet another illustration of their (the Republican administration's) unwillingness to except reality."
The administration "said that the Navy called for it, and that was a fabrication because they then later acknowledged that it was the White House who created the banner," said Daschle.