ABC, NBC uncritically reported Bush's latest Iraqi troop readiness goal
Research ››› ››› SIMON MALOY
The January 9 broadcasts of ABC's World News and NBC's Nightly News reported that President Bush will announce a goal in his January 10 speech of having Iraqi security forces in control of, or leading combat operations in, all of Iraq's provinces by the end of 2007. Neither ABC nor NBC questioned the feasibility of this reputed goal or reminded viewers that Bush failed to meet his previous goal of having the Iraqi security forces control more territory than the U.S.-led coalition by the end of 2006.
On World News, ABC chief White House correspondent Martha Raddatz reported:
RADDATZ: Well, Charlie, the president will announce tomorrow night an increase of troops. He will not call it a surge -- an increase of more than 20,000 troops. We all along have thought it would be around 20,000; they say it will be more than 20,000. Two brigades will be in Iraq within 30 days or, perhaps, a bit longer. One of those brigades is in Kuwait right now. And the three additional brigades, they will take several months to go into Baghdad and al-Anbar province. And also, the president will announce he hopes the Iraqis can take over control of all of the provinces in Iraq, at least take the lead in battle, by the end of the year. That does not mean, Charlie, that U.S. troops will not be present or that they will draw down, but they hope the Iraqis can take over the lead in those provinces by the end of the year.
On the Nightly News, NBC chief White House correspondent David Gregory reported:
GREGORY: And, specifically, White House aides say that the president will use his address to talk about a way out for U.S. troops from Iraq, specifically by articulating the goal that by November, it would be Iraqi forces -- not U.S. forces but Iraqi forces -- who would control all of that country's provinces.
Exactly one year ago, Bush announced in a speech the goal of "having the Iraqis in control of more territory than the coalition by the end of 2006":
BUSH: As we bring more Iraqi police and soldiers online in the months ahead, we will increasingly shift our focus from generating new Iraqi forces to preparing Iraqis to take primary responsibility for the security of their own country. At this moment, more than 35 Iraqi battalions have assumed control of their own areas of responsibility -- including nearly half of the Baghdad province, and sectors of south-central Iraq, southeast Iraq, western Iraq, and north-central Iraq. And in the year ahead, we will continue handing more territory to Iraqi forces, with the goal of having the Iraqis in control of more territory than the coalition by the end of 2006.
Bush repeated this goal in a March 13, 2006, speech at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.:
BUSH: As more capable Iraqi police and soldiers come on line, they will assume responsibility for more territory -- with the goal of having the Iraqis control more territory than the coalition by the end of 2006. And as Iraqis take over more territory, this frees American and Coalition forces to concentrate on training and on hunting down high-value targets like the terrorist Zarqawi and his associates. As Iraqis stand up, America and our coalition will stand down. And my decisions on troop levels will be made based upon the conditions on the ground, and the recommendations of our military commanders -- not artificial timetables set by politicians here in Washington, D.C.
However, according to the Provincial Security Transition Assessment in the Defense Department's November 2006 "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq" report, only two of Iraq's provinces are under "provincial Iraqi control," while three have been deemed "ready for transition." Of the remaining Iraqi provinces, 11 are considered only "partially ready for transition," while two provinces -- including Anbar, Iraq's largest province -- are deemed "not ready for transition."
In a separate segment on the January 9 broadcast of World News, correspondent Terry McCarthy reported: "The most dangerous address in Baghdad, Haifa Street. Locals call it Sniper Street. Today, the U.S. military arrived in force, determined to wipe out a concentration of Sunni insurgents and foreign fighters who've long make this street their killing zone." McCarthy noted that "[i]n the past year, the Iraqi police allowed Haifa Street to slip back into the violence that's strangling Baghdad."