Gazette edited Wash. Post piece to omit Dem response to Petraeus' congressional testimony

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

The Gazette of Colorado Springs published a version of a Washington Post news analysis of Gen. David Petraeus' and Ambassador Ryan Crocker's congressional testimony about progress in Iraq, but it omitted the original piece's reporting on Democrats who challenged Petraeus. As Colorado Media Matters has noted, The Gazette on other occasions has edited wire service articles to remove criticism of the Bush administration and the Iraq war.

On September 11, The Gazette of Colorado Springs published a version of a Washington Post news analysis of Gen. David Petraeus' and Ambassador Ryan Crocker's September 10 testimony before the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees that omitted Democratic responses to statements the two men made regarding progress in Iraq that originally appeared in the piece.

The Post piece published by The Gazette reported that "Iraq's armed forces are improving, Petraeus told Congress on Monday," and further noted:

Overall violence is down. Sunnis are turning against al-Qaida in Iraq, and many Baghdad neighborhoods are more peaceful. Political reconciliation, said Ambassador Ryan Crocker, who testified alongside the general, is a now visible possibility. But the two men offered no clear pathway or timeline to reach the end.

Petraeus and Crocker have long complained that the Washington clock -- with congressional demands that the time has come for Iraqis to take over their security and reconcile their political differences -- is running far faster than the one in Baghdad. Monday, they tried to slow Washington down.

"The process will not be quick," Crocker emphasized. "It will be uneven, punctuated by setbacks as well as achievements, and it will require substantial U.S. resolve and commitment. There will be no single moment at which we can claim victory; any turning point will likely only be recognized in retrospect."

Judging by the relatively mild congressional reaction in a joint hearing of the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees, Petraeus and Crocker may succeed this week in deflecting Democratic demands to bring the troops home sooner rather than later. They are likely to face tougher questioning -- and stiffer challenges to the emerging trends they described -- from two Senate committees today. But by the time President Bush speaks to the nation later this week, September's much-anticipated battle over Iraq policy may be all but over.

The Gazette removed from its version of the Post piece the next four paragraphs, which detailed Democratic lawmakers' criticisms of Petraeus' testimony and the Bush administration's strategy in Iraq, as well as a Republican lawmaker's response to the Democrats:

Some Democrats sought to challenge the general. "The administration has sent you here today to convince [Congress] ... that victory is at hand," Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos (Calif.) said in an opening statement. "With all due respect," he told Petraeus, "I don't buy it."

Others invoked the Vietnam War, a historical analogy that Bush has recently used to make his case in favor of the Iraq war. "Twenty years from now, when we build the Iraq war memorial on the National Mall, how many more men and women will have been sacrificed to protect our so-called credibility?" asked Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.). "How many more names will be added to the wall before we admit it is time to leave? How many more names, General?"

Republicans countered by citing the threats from al-Qaeda and Iran, and defended Petraeus's honor against criticism from antiwar activists.

"The enemy ... did not count on the United States regaining the initiative and going on the offensive throughout this strategy behind the surge," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.). "This strategy has driven a wedge between al-Qaeda and the Sunni population, and that will help drive a similar wedge between the Shia extremists."

As Colorado Media Matters has noted, The Gazette has previously edited wire service articles to remove criticism of the Bush administration and the Iraq war (here, here, and here).

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