Rare Good News on Iraq from CBS News: Maliki Says Surge is Working

Although Katie Couric began Tuesday's CBS Evening News coverage of Iraq on a downbeat note, pointing out how May has become the “deadliest month” of 2007, with “at least 114” U.S. servicemen killed so far, she moved on to how “in an exclusive interview, Iraq's Prime Minister tells CBS News the security crackdown is working.” From Baghdad, Lara Logan offered more of a glass is half full spin as she relayed how, “in his first American television interview since the U.S. troop surge began in February, Iraq's Prime Minister told CBS News today the additional forces here have prevented an even greater catastrophe.” Logan challenged Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's premise: “When we talk to Iraqi people on the streets of Baghdad, they say security is worse. Murders went down, but they're coming up back up again. There are still bombs every day. What is your sense of the quality of life to Iraqi people?”

Logan, however, also passed along how “despite this month's deadly toll on U.S. forces, Maliki said there have been many victories in breaking up al Qaeda and other militant cells. Although he cautioned it was too soon to do a complete evaluation of the surge, he said he has great hopes for more progress in the next two or three months.”

A partial transcript of Logan's story, on the May 29 CBS Evening News, picking up after she recounted the ambush deaths of soldiers who came to the assistance of a downed helicopter, the first helicopter shot down since February:
LARA LOGAN: “As American soldiers trying to secure Baghdad already know, those kinds of strategic gains are often temporary because their enemy is able to re-generate extremely fast.
In his first American television interview since the U.S. troop surge began in February, Iraq's Prime Minister told CBS News today the additional forces here have prevented an even greater catastrophe.”

PRIME MINISTER NOURI AL-MALIKI, THROUGH TRANSLATOR: “If the Baghdad security plan had not been implemented, we would have a true civil war in Iraq.”

LOGAN TO MALAKI: “When we talk to Iraqi people on the streets of Baghdad, they say security is worse. Murders went down, but they're coming up back up again. There are still bombs every day. What is your sense of the quality of life to Iraqi people?”

MALAKI ANSWERED: "There are great shortages in Baghdad because it's the capital and it faces the greatest terrorist threat."

LOGAN: “Despite this month's deadly toll on U.S. forces, Maliki said there have been many victories in breaking up al Qaeda and other militant cells. Although he cautioned it was too soon to do a complete evaluation of the surge, he said he has great hopes for more progress in the next two or three months -- just in time for America's top commander here to report to Congress.”

The CBSNews.com online version of Logan's story.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center