Instead of the progress that has been made in lowering violence in the country, CNN decided to focus on the "significant price" of the troop surge in Iraq. Tuesday’s "American Morning" reported that the Defense Department had decided to pull an entire brigade out of Iraq. Co-host John Roberts asked Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr "what’s this really mean for the war?" Starr only mentioned the decrease in violence in passing as she reported that the troop surge is "now officially in reverse gear." She did not include figures of this recent downturn in violence, something that only CBS Evening News did among the "Big Three" evening news broadcasts on Monday.
Starr’s report aired at the beginning of the 7 am Eastern hour of "American Morning." After she reported which units were sending troops home, Roberts asked her about the "price" of progress in Iraq. "Barbara, a lot of people are talking about progress here in Iraq, but progress comes at a price." In response, Starr highlighted the Bush administration’s lack of pressure on the Iraqi government to work on reconciliation, the shift to working with local groups that may become "armed militias" when the U.S. leaves Iraq, and how "ethnic cleansing" has divided Baghdad.
The lack of figures on the downturn in violence, together with the speculation that the local groups might become "armed militia" shows CNN’s agenda in their reporting on the Iraq war.
The full transcript of the segment from Tuesday’s "American Morning:"
JOHN ROBERTS: We begin this morning with big news in the Iraq war. A homecoming in the making for hundreds of military families. The Pentagon is pulling a brigade out of the country. It could be the first of many to follow. So what's this really mean for the war? CNN's Barbara Starr working the story from the Pentagon. She joins us now live. Good morning, Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, John. Well, with attacks down across the board in Iraq, of course, the troop surge that we've been talking about for so long, now officially is in reverse gear. They are bringing some of the troops home. They're trying to bring it down from about a troop level of 169,000 to 140,000, 145,000 by July. In the latest move, members of the 1st Cavalry Division are going to be headed back home to Fort Hood, Texas. That announcement has been made. Some very happy families there. We have already seen some members of the 10th Mountain Division of the 82nd Airborne on their way home. The troops are very happy, obviously, about this, John.
ROBERTS: Barbara, a lot of people are talking about progress here in Iraq, but progress comes at a price.
STARR: Well, it really does. There has been a price paid, certainly by U.S. troops and by Iraqi civilians, of course. I think that people are focusing on two issues here when they talk about the price paid for success. The Maliki government. You're not hearing the Bush administration talk very much lately about pressuring the Maliki government to work on that reconciliation. That is because the U.S. has really shifted policy. It's putting its chips now with local citizens, with local groups. You're hearing an awful lot about that. The question, of course, will be when they have all these local groups really armed, when they're working as security forces in their areas, will they be armed militias once the U.S. leaves?
And, of course, sectarian violence is down. That's another thing that's talked about as a measure of success. But you and I have talked a lot about the fact that the price for that is ethnic cleansing. Baghdad now a divided city, one side Shia, one side Sunni. And, of course, so many Iraqi refugees now living outside their own country. So, all of this really does come at a very significant price, John.
ROBERTS: Yeah, still some huge problems there. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us this morning. Barbara, thanks.