On ABC World News with Charles Gibson last night, ABC National Security Correspondent Jonathan Karl filed a report about the recent decline in American troop casualties in Iraq. In the report, Karl noted that “violence in Iraq is down,” but added that “there has been almost no political progress on the national level”:
In fact, there’s been almost no political progress on the national level, and U.S. officials know military gains won’t mean much if the Iraqi government doesn’t get its act together, which is one reason the Pentagon doesn’t even want to use the word “winning.”
After the report aired, the White House sent the piece out in an official White House publication called “White House Iraq Update.” But, as Karl writes today, the White House edited his report before sending it out, making it look “like an unqualified declaration of success in Iraq.”
In the version sent out by the White House, all references to a lack of political progress were removed. Here is full segment that the White House did not want reporters to see:
O’HANLON: … and it doesn’t answer the questions about political progress.
KARL: In fact, there’s been almost no political progress on the national level, and U.S. officials know military gains won’t mean much if the Iraqi government doesn’t get its act together, which is one reason the Pentagon doesn’t even want to use the word “winning.”
[To Defense Secretary] You’re not ready to say we’re winning, that the surge is working —
ROBERT GATES [Defense Secretary]: (From tape.) I think — I think that those end up being loaded words. I think we have been very successful. We need to continue being successful.
KARL: Today, Defense Secretary Gates said that the reduction in violence would not have been possible without the surge of 30,000 additional troops into Iraq, but, Charlie, those troops are going home in the coming months, raising the question of whether the violence will go up when they leave.
GIBSON: Jonathan Karl tonight reporting from the Pentagon, thanks.
Contacted by ABC, the White House admitted to editing the negative aspects of the report and acknowledged that it was “inappropriate.”
“The White House understands your concern,” White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe told ABC. “And the full text of your report will be released to the same distribution list so that recipients have a chance to see what the entire report was about.”