The White House has caught the Washington Post red-handed turning a report on Iraq by retired general Barry McCaffrey into an anti-war political ad.
The Post‘s Pentagon reporter Thomas Ricks wrote the story, inverting facts and statements to prove the points made in his book "Fiasco", which was an anti-war, anti-Bush and anti-Rumsfeld compendium. In the front-page spread about McCaffrey’s report, Ricks inverted what McCaffrey said to fit the narrative he began in "Fiasco."
Here’s the White House release, reprinted in its entirety:
"Since the arrival of General David Petraeus in command of Multi-National Force Iraq – the situation on the ground has clearly and measurably improved. … We can still achieve our objective of: a stable Iraq, at peace with its neighbors, not producing weapons of mass destruction, and fully committed to a law-based government."
– Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, "After Action Report Following Visit To Iraq And Kuwait"
The Washington Post’s Thomas E. Ricks: "McCaffrey Paints Gloomy Picture Of Iraq." (Thomas E. Ricks, "McCaffrey Paints Gloomy Picture Of Iraq," The Washington Post, 3/28/07)
But Ricks Focuses On One Of Four Sections In Gen. McCaffrey’s Report. Ricks focuses on a section titled "The Problem," and either minimizes or ignores other aspects of Gen. McCaffrey’s report in sections titled "The Current Situation," "The Way Ahead," and "Summary."
Like Gen. McCaffrey, President Bush, Administration Officials, And The National Intelligence Estimate Have All Acknowledged The Significant Challenges We Face In Iraq. Because of these challenges, the President announced a new strategy in January. As Gen. McCaffrey says, we are seeing some signs of early progress under Gen. David Petraeus’ leadership.
President Bush: "Amid the real challenges in Iraq, we’re beginning to see some signs of progress." (President Bush, Remarks On The Iraq War Emergency Supplemental, The White House, 3/23/07)
Many Parts Of Gen. McCaffrey’s Report Paint A Positive Picture
Gen. McCaffrey Describes Progress Throughout His Report And Leads Three Of Four Sections With Optimism:
Gen. McCaffrey On "The Current Situation": "Since the arrival of General David Petraeus in command of Multi-National Force Iraq – the situation on the ground has clearly and measurably improved."
Gen. McCaffrey On "The Way Ahead": "In my judgment, we can still achieve our objective of: a stable Iraq, at peace with its neighbors, not producing weapons of mass destruction, and fully committed to a law-based government."
Gen. McCaffrey’s "Summary": "We have brilliant military and civilian leadership on the ground in Iraq. General Dave Petraeus, LTG Ray Odierno, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker have the country’s treasure and combat power at their disposal. Our cause is just. The consequence of failure will be severe."
Gen. McCaffrey Highlights Key Improvements In The U.S.-Iraqi Coalition Strategy In Iraq
Gen. McCaffrey: "The Maliki Government Has Given The Green Light To Prune Out Elements Of The Renegade Sadr Organization In Baghdad." "More than 600+ rogue leaders have been harvested by US and Iraqi special operations forces with the explicit or tacit consent of the government. Sadr himself has fled to Iran and many of his key leaders have escaped to the safety of the Shia south. His fighting cadres were ordered to go to ground, hide their weapons, take down their check points, stop the terrible ethnic cleansing and terror tactics against the Sunni population, and ignore (not cooperate) with US and ISF forces."
Gen. McCaffrey: "U.S. And Iraqi Forces Have Now Dramatically Changed Their Operational Scheme." "More then 50+ Iraqi Police/Army and US Army Joint Security Stations (JSS) are now being emplaced across the city and extended into the suburbs. The pre-operation planning and rehearsals were superb. The presence of these joint military elements is now becoming ubiquitous across the urban areas. Although many of these small outposts have been attacked – none has yet been seriously jeopardized."
Gen. McCaffrey Says The Iraqis Are Encouraged
Gen. McCaffrey: "The Iraqi People Are Encouraged" As "Life Is Almost Immediately Springing Back In Many Parts Of The City." "The murder rate has plummeted. IED attacks on US forces during their formerly vulnerable daily transits from huge US bases on the periphery of Baghdad are down – since these forces are now permanently based in their operational area."
Gen. McCaffrey Says The Iraqis Are Committed To Securing Baghdad And Improving Their Police Force
Gen. McCaffrey: "The Iraqis Have Finally Committed Credible Numbers Of Integrated Police And Army Units To The Battle Of Baghdad." "The strength of IA, IP, and NP units has steadily gone up aided by clever monetary and troop leader incentives. The ISF formations are showing increased willingness to aggressively operate against insurgent/militia forces. Although there is continuing political interference by politicians of both the Iraqi Administration and legislators – this is clearly a serious urban security operation."
Gen. McCaffrey: There Is Now "Sunni Tribal Opposition To The Al Qaeda-In-Iraq Terror Formations" And New Sunni Recruits To The Iraq’s Police Force. "There is a real and growing ground swell of Sunni tribal opposition to the Al Qaeda-in-Iraq terror formations. (90% Iraqi.) This counter-Al Qaeda movement in Anbar Province was fostered by brilliant US Marine leadership. There is now unmistakable evidence that the western Sunni tribes are increasingly convinced that they blundered badly by sitting out the political process. They are also keenly aware of the fragility of the continued US military presence that stands between them and a vengeful and overwhelming Shia-Kurdish majority class – which was brutally treated by Saddam and his cruel regime. There is now active combat between Sunni tribal leadership and AQI terrorists. Of even greater importance, the Sunni tribes are now supplying their young men as drafts for the Iraqi Police."
Gen. McCaffrey Says The Iraqi Security Forces Are Growing
Gen. McCaffrey: "The Equipment And Resources For The Iraqi Security Forces Has Increased Dramatically" While "Maliki Has Pushed To Create A Larger Security Force." "The ISF has planned 2007 expenditures of more than $7.3 billion. The Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of the Interior are the only two of 27 Iraqi Ministries that have executed their budgets at 90% plus satisfactory rates. (General Petraeus is now putting US military liaison officers in ten additional civilian Ministries to jump start their budget process.) PM Maliki has pushed to create a larger security force of more than 100,000 Iraqi Army troops."
Gen. McCaffrey Says There Is A "Sophisticated" Political Approach
Gen. McCaffrey: "There Is A Very Sophisticated And Carefully Integrated Approach By The Iraqi Government And Coalition Actors To Defuse The Armed Violence From Internal Enemies And Bring People Into The Political Process." "Reconciliation of the internal warring elements in Iraq will be how we eventually win the war in Iraq – if it happens. … There are encouraging signs that the peace and participation message does resonate with many of the more moderate Sunni and Shia warring factions."
Note to WaPo executive editor Len Downie: What will the Post do to correct Ricks’s inventions? How can you even pretend that the Post covers the Pentagon impartially?