Schieffer failed to correct Bartlett's false claim that Woodward asserts there are "900 attacks daily" by insurgents in Iraq

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

On Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer failed to correct Dan Bartlett's false claim that Bob Woodward, in his latest book, State of Denial, asserts that insurgents in Iraq conduct "900 attacks daily" on U.S. and coalition forces. In fact, Woodward wrote that attacks on coalition forces in Iraq are "exceeding 3,500 a month" (or around 875 per week, not per day, as Bartlett stated).

On the October 1 edition of CBS' Face the Nation, host Bob Schieffer failed to correct White House counsel Dan Bartlett's false claim that Washington Post assistant managing editor Bob Woodward, in his latest book, State of Denial: Bush At War, Part III (Simon & Schuster, September 2006), asserts that insurgents in Iraq conduct "900 attacks daily" on U.S. and coalition forces. In fact, Woodward wrote in his book that attacks on coalition forces in Iraq are "exceeding 3,500 a month" (or around 875 per week, not per day, as Bartlett stated). In addition, according to previews aired on Schieffer's own network of Woodward's interview with CBS' 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace, broadcast on the October 1 edition of 60 Minutes, Woodward, referring to what he wrote in State of Denial, said that there are "8-900 attacks a week" in Iraq. Further, Bartlett urged Schieffer to consult data from the Brookings Institution to get "exactly the type of violence there's been" in Iraq; however, Brookings' Iraq Index largely corroborates Woodward's actual assertion.

On Face the Nation, Schieffer asked Bartlett about the "general tenor" of State of Denial, "that the administration simply did not tell the truth about what was really happening in Iraq." Schieffer then noted that Woodward "cites even these statistics now about 900 attacks," adding that Woodward claims the White House talked about Iraq getting better when secret reports showed otherwise. But Bartlett dismissed the claim, saying that it "is not really backed up by the ... evidence in Bob's book." He then said, "for example, take the 900 attacks daily. ... [T]he Brookings Institution does these -- based on governmental reports -- these charts saying exactly the type of violence there's been."

In fact, in State of Denial, Woodward wrote:

A graph [from a top secret intelligence report] measuring attacks from May 2003 to May 2006 showed some significant dips, but the current number of attacks was as high as they had ever been -- exceeding 3,500 a month. (page 472)

[...]

During one week in May 2006, enemy-initiated attacks soared to 900, a new record. In June, attacks went down to about 825 one week but then spiked up again. (page 480)

In addition, as previews of Woodward's interview aired on the September 30 edition of CBS' The Saturday Early Show showed, Woodward stated, "There are 8-900 attacks a week. That's more than 100 a day, four attacks an hour, attacking our forces." A September 30 article from The Guardian further reported that, during his interview, Woodward asserted that "[i]t's getting to the point now where there are 800-900 attacks a week. That's more than a hundred a day. That is four an hour attacking our forces."

The Brookings Institution's Iraq Index does in fact support Woodward's claim. According to the report, from May 6 to August 11, average weekly attacks by insurgents in Iraq rose to 800 per week, up from nearly 650 from the previous four-month time period. In addition, the report shows insurgent attacks on U.S. and coalition troops at roughly 90 per day.

From the September 30 edition of CBS' The Saturday Early Show:

RUSS MITCHELL (co-host): Washington Post assistant managing editor Bob Woodward has some startling revelations about the White House in his new book, State of Denial. Among other things, he says the Bush administration has not been honest about the level of violence in Iraq. Woodward sat down with 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace for an exclusive interview.

[begin video]

WOODWARD: There are 8-900 attacks a week. That's more than 100 a day, four attacks an hour, attacking our forces. The truth is that the assessment by the intelligence experts is that, next year, now next year is 2007 --

WALLACE: Yes.

WOODWARD: -- is going to get worse.

[...]

MITCHELL: Controversy is raging over a new book by The Washington Post's Bob Woodward. He writes the Bush administration has not been telling the truth about the level of violence in Iraq. Woodward spoke with 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace about his book, State of Denial.

[begin video clip]

WOODWARD: There are 8-900 attacks a week. That's more than 100 a day, four attacks an hour, attacking our forces. The truth is that the assessment by the intelligence experts is that, next year, now next year is 2007 --

WALLACE: Yes.

WOODWARD: -- is going to get worse.

[end video clip]

MITCHELL: And you can see more of that interview with Bob Woodward tomorrow night on 60 Minutes here on CBS.

From the October 1 edition of CBS' Face the Nation:

SCHIEFFER: Let me just ask you about the general tenor of Bob Woodward's book and -- and that is that the administration simply did not tell the truth about what was really happening in Iraq, almost from the beginning. And he cites even these statistics now about 900 attacks. He talks about how, when the White House was saying things were getting better, that in fact they had information, secret reports, telling him they were getting worse.

BARTLETT: And that part of the critique is one that really, I must say, after reading the book the last two days, is not really backed up by the own evidence in Bob's book. And -- for example, take the 900 attacks daily. If you open up The New York Times today, the Brookings Institution does these -- based on governmental reports -- these charts saying exactly the type of violence there's been. The president himself in more than one occasion has been very blunt with the American people about the challenges in Iraq. Last year and early part of this year, he gave a series of speeches where he talked about how we're constantly adapting our strategies, where we had to fix things on reconstruction, on training Iraqi security forces. So, I think the president -- I know the president has been very blunt with the American people about the challenges we face in Iraq. We've given that information.

And if you just take a step back, Bob, I think you can look at the fact, no American out there doesn't understand the violence in Iraq. We see it every night on our TV screens and every day we wake up and read the papers. Everybody knows it's tough. The president --

SCHIEFFER: Well, let me just show you something --

BARTLETT: Sure.

SCHIEFFER: -- Mr. Bartlett. Here, the -- The Washington Post this morning puts out a -- basically a full-page -- and where they go down the line here and say, you know - well, let me just take one for example.

BARTLETT: Sure.

SCHIEFFER: It says on March 16th, 2003, Vice President Cheney told [NBC News Washington bureau chief] Tim Russert, "To suggest we need several hundred thousand troops there after military operations cease, I don't think is accurate. I think that's overstatement." But a month, or two months -- well, a month before that -- in February of 2003, it says that CENTCOM -- that's the commanders -- showed that estimates that it would take 450,000 U.S. troops to occupy Iraq based on the experience in Bosnia. Now, the president's always said, "I depend on my military commanders."

BARTLETT: Mm-hmm.

SCHIEFFER: "If he tells me we need more people, we send them." Well, that seems to be what they were telling him, and yet the administration was saying, "We don't need all those people."

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Network/Outlet
CBS
Person
Bob Schieffer
Show/Publication
Face the Nation
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