In a fact-check segment on CNN's Paula Zahn Now, CNN senior military affairs correspondent Jamie McIntyre failed to note the abundant evidence refuting President George W. Bush's claim that 100,000 Iraqis have already been trained for combat duty in Iraq. McIntyre reported only the Pentagon's assertion that 100,000 Iraqis have been trained, as Bush cited in the presidential debate; McIntyre neglected to mention that Pentagon documents, news reports, and Iraqi interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's assessment of combat-ready Iraqis all contradict Bush's figure (as Media Matters for America has noted).
From the October 1 edition of CNN's Paula Zahn Now:
McINTYRE: There's a big dispute, Paula, about whether the Pentagon is overstating the number of Iraqis that are truly combat-ready.
But the general who's in charge of the training, very respected general, [Army Lieutenant] General [David H.] Petraeus, insists that 100,000 is the right number out of 164,000 in Iraq.
And the bottom line, the Pentagon says, is that Iraqi forces are actually fighting and dying in greater numbers in some cases than the U.S. forces. Just yesterday, 2,000 Iraqi troops took part in a major operation to retake Samarra from insurgents. And the Pentagon says the equipment is getting better all the time.
On September 23, Allawi stated: "The Iraqi government now commands 50,000 armed and combat-ready Iraqis. By January it will be some 145,000 and by the end of next year some 250,000 Iraqis." But his numbers may also be inflated. As NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw noted on September 30, citing correspondent Richard Engle: "[T]hey had about 100,000 Iraqis in training, but they had to fire 40,000 of them in the past five days or so because of their suspect origins."
And as Reuters noted on September 24, the Pentagon has acknowledged that "only about 53,000 of the 100,000 Iraqis on duty now have undergone training." Reuters also reported that recently released Pentagon documents reveal that "fewer than 100,000 [Iraqis] will be trained by the end of this year," and "only 8,169 have had the full eight-week academy training."