On Four Year Anniversary, 'Early Show' Accentuates Negative on Iraq
CBS took the occasion of the four year anniversary for Operation Iraqi Freedom to report on nearly everything negative related to the war's outcome and reconstruction.
Despite word from the troops that the media do not report the whole picture, reporter Allen Pizzey accentuated the negatives.
On the March 19 edition of "The Early Show," Pizzey insisted that "Iraqis have little to be thankful for." He briefly mentioned that an Iraqi general is declaring some success, but quickly countered with reports of recent attacks. With all of the negative coverage, Allen Pizzey did not bother to mention reports that insurgent attacks dropped 80 percent since President Bush announced the surge. The transcript is below.
HANNAH STORM: Four years ago today President Bush announced the start of the war in Iraq. CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey is live in Baghdad with more on that. Good morning, Allen.
ALLEN PIZZEY: Good morning, Hannah. Well, you know, as big a day as this is in the United States, here in Baghdad it frankly is just another day. There will be no celebrations partly because gathering in groups just makes another target for insurgents. And in fact, there have been six bombs that we know of this morning, one about two miles off here to my left, five simultaneous ones in Kirkuk, which served to underscore the way Iraqis have very little to be thankful for. Nothing represented the hopes and dreams of the invasion better than this moment. The past was wreckage and out of it would be built not just a new Iraq but a new Middle East.
UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER: One, two, three.
PIZZEY: Four years on, American soldiers used the last monument as a backdrop for souvenir photos of a place they had hoped to be gone from by now.
UNIDENTIFIED SOLDIER #2: Being a super power means you have to make a solid commitment with the nation and plan to stay for the long haul. And, and I don't know if the American people are ready to pay that price here.
PIZZEY: Life for Iraqis has been turned upside down, too, but the side they have now is not the opposite of Saddam's time, it's another version of tyranny. Fear of Saddam has been replaced by fear of even less identifiable terror. Every car with no passengers could be a suicide bomber. Every checkpoint, and there are hundreds, is a target. Fear that your neighbor might be a spy for Saddam's secret police has been replaced by fear that the police may actually be death squads loyal toward different brand of Islam. Whole neighborhoods have been ethnically cleansed and militiamen are seen as the only protection. Children have to learn what they call a safe name, a false identity that does not reveal whether they are Sunni or Shia. The surge plan puts American troops living alongside Iraqi Army and police units to neighborhoods like violence riden Sadr city, 24/7. A couple of dozen stations are up and running, as many as 100 are planned. American commanders are cautiously optimistic.
MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM CALDWELL, USA: We know that there has been a decrease in violence, but things still need to get better. We still need to be patient.
PIZZEY: The general's Iraqi equivalent, Brigadier General Kaseem al Mousawi on the other hand, is already crowing success. The insurgents responded with spectacular attacks. A car bomb that tore apart Mutanobi street, the book seller's market, considered to be the capital's historical and cultural heart, turned fear and fatigue into despair. "We're poor and tired people," Taha the book seller says. "For three years now, no services, no water, no electricity. What," he asks, "have they done to us?" Fixing the people's problems has become as a much a priority as killing the enemy. Power plants are high on the list.
COLONEL JOHN CHRISTIANSEN, USA, CORPS OF ENGINEERS: My ideal would be 24 hours a day of power unfortunately that's probably not going to take place for quite a while.
PIZZEY: Neither is saying good-bye to Iraq. Many of the soldiers here are on second and even third deployments, and there are no doubt the job will take longer than people counting on the surge think it will, because they see the problem up close and personal.
PRIVATE FIRST CLASS CHRIS GATES, USA: I think that the Iraqi people need to take a little more pride in their country as far as taking it over. So it's going to be a while before they develop that pride that we're trying to instill in them.
PIZZEY: The Iraqis would counter that by noting that pride in their country is not something they were ever short of even under Saddam, but a combination of the insurgency, foreign jihadists, and an occupying force has left them with little sense that they even have a country to call their own.