This week's column? General David Petraeus.
Let's set the rhetorical table with some numbers. Here's a sentence from J-Kel's fourth paragraph:
When asked in a New York Times/CBS poll who they trust the most on Iraq, 21 percent of respondents chose Congress. Sixty-eight percent chose the U.S. military.Ok. Good. Let's take a look at that poll. Here's the coverage in the New York Times.
But take a look at the art the Times has included. Notice something? Notice something that J-Kel dutifully left out?
While "U.S. Military Commanders" scored much higher with 68% of those polled (and, by the way, note that the question is about successfully resolving the war not winning it) than Congress' weaker 21%, the Bush Administration scored an even lower with a measly 5%!
Tell me again, who's the Commander-in-Chief? Who's administration it is?
That's right, that would be George W. Bush and 4 times as many people trust Congress to resolve his war than trust his administration to do it.
Something I guess Jack Kelly decided not to tell his readers. He just decided to tell his readers the part that they trust the military a whole lot more than Congress.
That's what's called a "lie of omission." Just so you know.
Here's some more data from the poll Commando Kelly liked so much he opened his column with it:
Again Jack, for some reason known only to him, decided not to tell his readers about that bit of information.
In making its case for war in Iraq, do you think members of the Bush Administration intentionally misled the public? 60% said yes, 36% said no.
I wonder why.
Let's move onto Kelly's surge statistics. (Get it? Get the pun?? I know Dennis Roddy will.).
And why would we think that General Petraeus is a "shill" for the Bush administration? Maybe because he was "hard wired" into Ed Gillespie's PR campaign? From the Washington Post:
The situation in Iraq is much better now than it was before the troop surge began in January, Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker told the House on Monday and the Senate on Tuesday. Civilian deaths have declined by 45 percent since December; sectarian deaths by 55 percent. There were half as many car bombings and suicide attacks in August as there were in March.
But if you can't refute the message, you can slime the messenger. Democrats accused Gen. Petraeus of being a shill for the Bush administration.
Another new arrival in the West Wing set up a rapid-response PR unit hard-wired into Petraeus's shop. Ed Gillespie, the new presidential counselor, organized daily conference calls at 7:45 a.m. and again late in the afternoon between the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the U.S. Embassy and military in Baghdad to map out ways of selling the surge.Huh. Imagine that.
I want to take a closer look at that first paragraph. The second sentence, specifically. Where does that information come from? We know from the first sentence that General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker told Congress that the "situation in Iraq is much better." But what about the stuff that follows? Did Jack Kelly find an independent confirmation supporting what was told to Congress?
Well, no. Although he doesn't say so, Kelly is just continuing the quotation. From the CNN transcript:
Anyway, you can refute the message. And who's done that? Oh, lotsa folks. The GAO, the nation's Intelligence Community, the AP. Here's what Greg Bruno over at the Council on Foreign Relations had to say. After summarizing Petreaus' sunnier picture he wrote:
Civilian deaths of all categories, less natural causes, have also declined considerably, by over 45 percent Iraq-wide since the height of the sectarian violence in December. This is shown by the top line on this chart. And the decline by some 70 percent in Baghdad is shown by the bottom line.
Periodic mass casualty attacks by al Qaeda have tragically added to the numbers outside Baghdad in particular. Even without the sensational attacks, however, the level of civilian deaths is clearly still too high and continues to be of serious concern.
As the next chart shows, the number of ethno-sectarian deaths, an important subset of the overall civilian casualty figures, has also declined significantly since the height of the sectarian violence in December. Iraq-wide, as shown by the top line on this chart, the number of ethno-sectarian deaths has come down by over 55 percent, and it would have come down much further were it not for the casualties inflicted by barbaric al Qaeda bombings attempting to reignite sectarian violence. [Emphasis added.]
Bruno, after looking to explain the discrepancy in numbers between Gen. Petreaus and the GAO (and according to Karen DeYoung in the Washington Post - the GAO's methology is also the CIA's and the DIA's), adds a few final expert opinions:
Independent reports published before Gen. Petraeus’ appearance on Capitol Hill paint a far bleaker picture than the military’s assessment. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded in August 2007 the average number of daily attacks against “coalition, Iraqi security forces, and civilians” remained relatively static—at about 170—between October 2006 and July 2007, with a slight drop between June and July. An August 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) made a similar conclusion, without offering statistics. A third report on the readiness of Iraqi Security Forces concludes the country’s soldiers and police largely are incapable of protecting its citizens.
Nongovernmental analysis of civilian attacks and casualties has been even more critical; it also contradicts military numbers. An Associated Press analysis of civilian casualty statistics, published September 1, 2007, concluded “at least 1,809 civilians” were killed in August 2007, the second-highest monthly level in 2007. The AP, which based its analysis on Iraqi police reports, said 27,564 Iraqi civilians have been killed since April 2005, when the news service began collecting data. Iraq Body Count, a British group that monitors civilian deaths, has counted more than 71,000 civilian deaths from violence since 2003. The Economist says the civilian death toll “almost certainly exceeds 100,000.”[All links from the original - the Yahoo-AP link is dead here's the story from MSNBC]
Rand Beers, a counterterrorism adviser to both Bush presidents and President Clinton, says he believes Gen. Petraeus has selectively focused on trends beginning in December 2006 to enhance the perception of military progress. Beers, who heads the Washington-based National Security Network, also suspects the military of inflating pre-December 2006 violence numbers to paint its surge efforts in a more positive light. Lawrence J. Korb, a former senior Pentagon official in the Reagan administration, is equally skeptical: “It’s a selective use of statistics to buttress his case,” Korb says.See? It is possible to refute (or at least question) the numbers. And from real live National Security correspondents, too.
I'm sorry - was that last bit a little too snarky? I apologize if I hurt Jack Kelly's feelings by backhandedly reminding everyone that he's no longer the P-G's "National Security" Correspondent. Nowadays, he's just a run-of-the-mill wingnut.
Anyway, back to his column. J-Kel next tackles the Moveon.org ad.
Let me point just out that a poll by Fox "News" (Slogan: "It's from Fox News, so you know it's Right.") done after General Petreaus testified showed that only 35% of the American people thought he was being "truthful and objective" in his testimony. 40% (and that's more than 35%) thought he was "slanted towards the Administration."
Check it out here. It's question 51.
It's more or less what the rather snarky Moveon ad was saying.
So the question about the ad was?