May 28, 2008

Just the Facts, Sam

Would someone please provide ABC News' Sam Donaldson with some facts?

It is perhaps progress in this commentary piece for a journalist to admit that Obama needs schooling— I do find it amusing that he refers to McCain as "the professor" and Obama as "his callow student"—but he grossly overestimates the size of al Sadr's faltering organization by an enormous amount, while downplaying Madhi Army defeats at the hands of the Iraqi security forces in recent weeks.

Iraq will almost certainly be one of the central issues in November -- if McCain is lucky it will remain relatively calm with casualties relatively low. But there is a wildcard named Moqtada al-Sadr, the 34-year-old Shiite leader of a 2 million man army.

When the surge began, al-Sadr instructed his army to lie low. Why fight an increased American force? But we all saw what happened a few weeks ago when al-Sadr loosed his men in Bashra and Bagdad -- violence flared, casualties spiked -- before calling another truce.

I'd like for Mr. Donaldson to explain where he got a figure of 2 million for the collection of neighborhood militias, street gangs, and "special groups" that make up the JAM (Jaish al Mahdi). Most estimates of the group have not put numbers larger than roughly 60,000 strong at any point in the conflict, and present numbers are said to be in rapid decline even now because of their growing unpopularity among Iraqi Shia.

I'd also like Donaldson to justify his dishonest portrayal of events in Basra and Baghdad. In both cities the Madhi Army suffered horrific losses at the hands of Iraqi security forces before suing for peace out of a sense of self preservation, and in both cities, Iraqi soldiers and police continued to relentlessly push into neighborhoods formerly dominated by Madhi Army thugs event after these "treaties" were agreed upon. In Basra, Iraqi government forces now rule virtually uncontested as they continue to carry out targeted strikes against wanted members of the Madhi Army. GoI security forces entered Sadr City with an unexpectedly large number of soldiers equipped with heavy armor, surprising the militiamen, who have yet to formulate a response.

Donaldson is obviously as much an Obama cheerleader as he is a journalist, but his 37-years in the business don't give him the right to make up his own reality.

Stick the facts, Sam. One Dan Rather at a time is enough.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at May 28, 2008 03:19 PM

Walter Cronkite.
Tet caused Walter to declare defeat, and although we won by a large margin, the statement became fact in the minds of the People. Sammy Boy is attempting to Walter the facts.

Posted by: JP at May 28, 2008 03:46 PM

Sam Donaldson's op-ed can be explained very simply:

Namely, Sambo's hairpiece has tentacled into his brain and it's now doing all of his thinking and writing for him.

Look at this pic and tell me it ain't so:

Posted by: MarkJ at May 28, 2008 04:15 PM

Sam got his data from the same place Dan Rather got the Bush Air National Guard documents. :)

Posted by: C-C-G at May 28, 2008 04:34 PM

If I am not mistaken, there are only about five million men in Iraq who are Shia Arabs more or less of military age (i.e. between 14 and 60). Sam Donaldson fancies al-Sadr has a stupefying ability to inspire participation. (Recall that al-Sadr's electoral vehicle won 0.8% of the vote on the last occasion he fielded a stand-alone slate).

Posted by: Art Deco at May 28, 2008 05:15 PM

When did the definition of "news" become --- "Telling people what is likely to happen weeks (or months) down the road?"

Turing "news" coverage into weather forecasting has gone hand-n-hand with turning it into a vehicle for opinion-giving (a.k.a "analysis").

Please, tell me, "EARLIER today, John McCain said concerning Iraq policy 'blah blah blah blah.'"

And leave out the, "This will likely mean come election time that if blah blah blah"...

Just the news ---- what happened yesterday....please....

Posted by: usinkorea at May 28, 2008 05:24 PM

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Posted by: David m at May 29, 2008 02:07 PM