CNN's Romans and McIntyre stated U.S. troop deaths are down this summer, ignoring that this is the deadliest June-August since the war began

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

CNN's Christine Romans repeatedly claimed that American troop deaths in Iraq "are down this summer" and also reported that "[t]he Pentagon today is citing the surge in Iraq as a reason for a drop in troop deaths this summer." However, statistics compiled by the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count show that the 260 U.S. troop deaths in Iraq during June, July, and August 2007 make this the deadliest June-August of the Iraq war for U.S. troops.

On the August 30 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, guest host Christine Romans repeatedly claimed that American troop deaths in Iraq "are down this summer." Romans also reported that "[t]he Pentagon today is citing the surge in Iraq as a reason for a drop in troop deaths this summer," by comparing casualty figures in July and August to those in May and later asked if lower American casualty figures were a measure of the success of the "surge." However, as Media Matters for America documented, statistics compiled by the Iraq Coalition Casualty Count on its website iCasualties.org show that the 260 U.S. troop deaths in Iraq during June, July, and August 2007 make this the deadliest June through August of the Iraq war for U.S. troops.

From iCasualties.org:

June-July-August 2003: 113 American troops died

June-July-August 2004: 162 American troops died

June-July-August 2005: 217 American troops died

June-July-August 2006: 169 American troops died

June-July-August 2007: 260 American troops died

Despite these facts, on four occasions, Romans and CNN senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre asserted that troop deaths are down this "summer":

  • Previewing a report from McIntyre, Romans said: "U.S. troop deaths in Iraq are down this summer; 77 of our troops have been killed so far this month. In July, 79 were killed. That's down from a high in May, when 126 of our troops were killed."
  • Introducing McIntyre's report, Romans said: "The Pentagon today is citing the surge in Iraq as a reason for a drop in troop deaths this summer. In July, 79 of our troops were killed; this month, as we just reported, 77. That's down from the deadliest month this year, May, in which 126 of our troops were killed."
  • McIntyre asserted: "[F]or the three months preceding those summer months, the U.S. casualties were well over 100, with that peak of 126 in May. The last two months, they've been down, but they are still fairly high, in the upper 70s." McIntyre added: "Is it a trend? U.S. military commanders say it's too soon to say that, even though the Pentagon said that it's evidence that the surge is working."
  • Romans asked CNN military analyst retired Brig. Gen. David Grange, "My question to you: Is the surge working if U.S. casualties are down, but civilian deaths are not?"

On-screen text also claimed "Troop Deaths Down":

While both Romans and McIntyre noted as significant that U.S. troop deaths were down in each of the last two months based on a comparison to the 126 deaths in May, neither of them noted that May was the third-deadliest month for U.S. troops since the war began, according to iCasualties.org.

From the August 30 edition of CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:

ROMANS: Good evening, everybody.

Congressional auditors find the Iraqi government has failed to meet most of the benchmarks laid out by Congress to assess progress in Iraq. The Government Accountability Office reportedly will say 15 of 18 goals have not been met.

But U.S. troop deaths in Iraq are down this summer; 77 of our troops have been killed so far this month. In July, 79 were killed. That's down from a high in May, when 126 of our troops were killed.

[. . .]

ROMANS: Three more of our troops have been killed by insurgents in Iraq. The three soldiers were killed in separate actions in different parts of the country; 77 of our troops have been killed so far this month; 3,735 of our troops have been killed since the war began; 27,662 troops have been wounded, 12,429 of them seriously.

And in Afghanistan four more of our troops have been killed in hostile action. A total of 434 of our troops have been killed in Operation Enduring Freedom since October 2001.

The Pentagon today is citing the surge in Iraq as a reason for a drop in troop deaths this summer. In July, 79 of our troops were killed; this month, as we just reported, 77. That's down from the deadliest month this year, May, in which 126 of our troops were killed.

Jamie McIntyre has that report -- Jamie.

McINTYRE: That's right, Christine.

If you go back and look at U.S. troop casualties back in the late spring and early summer, you will see that, for the three months preceding those summer months, the U.S. casualties were well over 100, with that peak of 126 in May. The last two months, they've been down, but they are still fairly high, in the upper 70s.

Is it a trend? U.S. military commanders say it's too soon to say that, even though the Pentagon said that it's evidence that the surge is working. And, of course, the recent National Intelligence Estimate concluded that the security situation has improved in some places in Iraq, but that progress is uneven.

And, of course, U.S. troop deaths aren't the only measure of success. Al Qaeda has still been able to launch some spectacular attacks that have killed large numbers of civilians. But, as that National Intelligence Estimate also concluded, Al Qaeda's ability to operate has been seriously degraded, and U.S. commanders credit that, in part, for the lower troop numbers.

But the short answer, Christine, at this point is, nobody says this is a trend, and they're warning, there could be an uptick in violence again commensurate with that September report from General Petraeus.

ROMANS: All right, Jamie McIntyre in Washington -- thank you, Jamie.

[. . .]

ROMANS: OK, so The Washington Post reporting that this GAO report is going to show that 15 of these political and - and military benchmarks have not been met, including questions about whether the surge is even doing enough to stop civilian violence. While the Baghdad security plan, according to the draft, was intended to reduce sectarian violence, U.S. agencies differ on whether such violence has been reduced.

My question to you: Is the surge working if U.S. casualties are down, but civilian deaths are not?

GRANGE: Well, I believe that the sectarian violence is down. Civilian deaths are - are not down. And if you're an Iraqi, you would probably say if it happened in your neighborhood, that it's not working.

But I think around the countryside, it is working so much because they're attacking civilians because they can. And they still want to this show that they have influence in the outcome of this conflict.

ROMANS: What's the significance of this GAO report?

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Jamie McIntyre, Christine Romans
Show/Publication
Lou Dobbs Tonight
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