CBS's "The Early Show" Sees No End In Sight in Iraq, "USA Today" Reports Progress

Yesterday marked the third anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq, and while progress has been made, CBS’s the "Early Show" attempted to paint as bleak a picture as possible when discussing the war. In total, there were four stories regarding the Iraq war on this morning’s broadcast.

The first such story was a piece by CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante. Substitute co-host Russ Mitchell introduced the piece:

Russ Mitchell: "Despite escalating violence, President Bush insists the administration’s Iraq policy is working."

Bill Plante followed with a bleak assessment:

Bill Plante: "Well three years into the Iraq war with casualties mounting and no end in sight, the President and Vice President both see reason for optimism and they say there’s progress."

Of course casualties are mounting, every time someone dies or is injured, it adds to the number. However, according to the front page of today’s "USA Today," the casualty rate for American troops is declining.

"U.S. military deaths during the past month have dropped to an average of about one a day, approaching the lowest level since the insurgency began two years ago, according to a USA Today analysis of U.S. military data."

This drop in deaths is related to two important facts. First, the casualty rate for Iraqis has increased. Nora Bensahel of the Rand Corporation is quoted as saying the increasing level of Iraqi casualties means "Iraqi security forces are in positions of responsibility." And that the United States, which has 132,000 troops in Iraq, is "doing fewer patrols on its own and more in support of Iraqi operations," reducing U.S. casualties.

The second reason for the drop in U. S. casualties is that US forces are neutralizing the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) used by insurgents. According to Major General Rick Lynch, soldiers and marines are now finding and neutralizing over 40% of enemy IEDs, compared to 30% in September. In addition, according to Lynch, 41 insurgent bomb makers have been killed or captured.

These are signs of clear progress. Iraqi security forces are playing more of a role in stabilizing their country, and as more of them continue to step up, it means the US and its coalition partners can draw down their forces.

The second story was a report from Baghdad with Lara Logan. There was one comment that jumped out in this piece and that was Lara Logan implies that Baghdad was not a violent place while Saddam Hussein was in power.

Lara Logan: "In the capital, violence and bloodshed have become a way of life since the end of Saddam Hussein’s rule"

Does she forget Saddam’s torture chambers? Does she forget how he brutalized his own people? Here’s a news flash for you Lara, bloodshed and violence are nothing new in Baghdad.