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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 09/20/2007

General Betray Us?

By Washington Post editors
Petraeus

The anti-war group Moveon.org attacked General David Petraeus in a September 10 full-page advertisement in the New York Times, accusing him of being "constantly at war with the facts." Here is an annotated fact check of MoveOn.org's broadside against Petraeus.

MoveOn.org claims are in yellow; our comments in regular type.

The Facts

General Petraeus is a military man constantly at war with the facts.
While some of the facts and statistics cited by General Petraeus can legitimately be questioned and debated, MoveOn.org offers only partial support for such a sweeping accusation. The data they do cite is itself open to challenge.
In 2004, just before the election, he said there was "tangible progress" in Iraq and that "Iraqi leaders are stepping forward."
With hindsight, Petraeus was overly optimistic in his 2004 assessment. But does this statement support MoveOn.org's indictment against him?

A claim of "tangible progress" was not totally unreasonable in 2004. The more important question is whether that progress was sufficient to stabilize Iraq. Obviously, it wasn't.

And last week Petraeus, the architect of the escalation of troops in Iraq, said "We say we have achieved progress, and we are obviously going to do everything we can to build on that progress."
Again the question is, how much progress? It seems difficult to dispute that there has been progress in some parts of Iraq, such as Anbar province. But will that be enough?

According to the GAO Report: Securing, Stabilizing, and Rebuilding Iraq (09/07/2007), "progress...has been made in several areas, including Anbar Province." The Report of the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq (09/06/2007) states that " the new Iraqi armed forces, especially the Army, show clear evidence of developing the baseline infrastructures that lead to the successful formation of a national defense capability."
Every independent report on the ground situation in Iraq shows that the surge strategy has failed.
This is as inaccurate as are bald claims, by Sen. John McCain and others, that the surge "is working." Independent reports show that the results have been mixed.
Yet the General claims a reduction in violence.
Independent monitors such as Iraq Body Count agree that there probably has been some reduction in violence from the last few months of 2006, when it reached a peak. The key question is whether the violence can be brought down to a level that would allow progress in political, civil and other areas.
That's because, according to the New York Times, the Pentagon has adopted a bizarre formula for keeping tabs on violence. For example, deaths by car bombs don't count.
Legitimate questions have been raised about the methodology used by the Pentagon in assessing violence in Iraq, which contrasts with the conclusions of other agencies, and may underestimate the violence. However, the Petraeus report specifically includes data for car bombs. (See Slide 4.)
The Washington Post reported that assassinations only count if you're shot in the back of the head -- not the front.
True, the Post has reported this, quoting an unnamed intelligence official. Multi-National Force Iraq, however, says that it does NOT use a shot to the back or front of the head as a means of distinguishing sectarian murders from ordinary killings.
According to news reports, there have been more civilian deaths and more American soldier deaths in the past three months than in any other summer we've been there.
True on U.S. military deaths. According to Pentagon figures, 264 U.S. soldiers were killed in Iraq in June-August 2007, compared to 169 in the same period in 2006, 217 in 2005, 162 in 2004, and 113 in 2003.

The data on Iraqi civilian deaths are much more controversial. Charts provided by Petraeus show a thirty per cent decline in Iraqi civilian deaths from the summer of 2006 (June, July, August) to the summer of 2007. It is difficult to reconcile this reported decline with an August 25 Associated Press report that war-related deaths in Iraq have nearly doubled over the last year, from an average daily toll of 2006 of 33 to 62 so far this year.

According to Iraq Body Count, an independent London-based organization that tracks civilian deaths in Iraq, overall levels of violence against Iraqi civilians have decreased since the last six months of 2006. However, Iraq Body Count also notes that the first six months of 2007 were deadlier than the first six months of any year since the invasion.
We'll hear of neighborhoods where violence has decreased. But we won't hear that those neighborhoods have been ethnically cleansed.
Reporters based in Baghdad have reported that one reason for the declining violence is the ethnic cleansing of neighborhoods. See this useful New York Times graphic, for example. Petraeus did not dispute a New York Times report that 35,000 Iraqis have left their homes in Baghdad as part of ethnic cleansing.
Most importantly, General Petraeus will not admit what everyone knows; Iraq is mired in an unwinnable religious civil war.
The Iraq war may or may not be winnable. But it is incorrect to claim that "everyone knows" it is "unwinnable."
We may hear of a plan to withdraw a few thousand American troops. But we won't hear what Americans are desperate to hear: a timetable for withdrawing all our troops. General Petraeus has actually said American troops will need to stay in Iraq for as long as ten years.
According to Factcheck.org, General Petraeus has never said that American troops will need to stay in Iraq for as long as ten years. He told the BBC on July 9 that the "average counter-insurgency," such as the British effort to pacify Northern Ireland, "is somewhere around a 9- or a 10-year endeavor."
Today before Congress and before the American people, General Petraeus is likely to become General Betray Us.

The Pinocchio Test

[Pinocchio][Pinocchio][Pinocchio]

The data provided by Gen. Petraeus on sharply declining Iraqi casualty rates is certainly open to analysis, debate, and challenge. We plan to take a closer look at them in a future post. However, MoveOn.org does not provide adequate factual support for its larger assertion that Petraeus is "constantly at war with the facts" and is "cooking the books" for the White House. In the absence of fresh evidence, we award MoveOn.org three Pinocchios. (About our rating scale.)

By Washington Post editors  | September 20, 2007; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  3 Pinocchios, Ad Watch, Iraq  
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Comments

More fact checking of the fact-checker:

"In 2004, just before the election, he said there was "tangible progress" in Iraq and that "Iraqi leaders are stepping forward."
With hindsight, Petraeus was overly optimistic in his 2004 assessment. But does this statement support MoveOn.org's indictment against him?

A claim of "tangible progress" was not totally unreasonable in 2004. The more important question is whether that progress was sufficient to stabilize Iraq. Obviously, it wasn't."

Ummm....if he actually said it, doesn't this make it true? If the point is that he has poor analysis and/or vision, I think MoveOn has a point, don't you?

"Yet the General claims a reduction in violence.
Independent monitors such as Iraq Body Count agree that there probably has been some reduction in violence from the last few months of 2006, when it reached a peak. The key question is whether the violence can be brought down to a level that would allow progress in political, civil and other areas. "

Do you realize that the violence in Iraq is seasonal? It goes up in the cooler months, when you can actually function outside, and down in hotter months, when it sometimes gets above 110 degrees. Comparing July-August with November-December is thus misleading. You need to compare month to month.

Three Pinocchios.

Posted by: VAR | September 20, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Agreed. MoveOn took a hit to its credibility with this ad.

Posted by: mike | September 20, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

To claim to be fact checking opinion statements such "Petreaus is at war with the facts" where there is real controversy on what the facts are is just blowing more smoke which is a major disappointment for a column entitled "fact checker." Stick with the facts, would ya? Like posit some reasonable, working definitions of success or failure and go from there or answer the question as to how many countries are involved in our efforts in Iraq. Is it the number Bush threw out in his speech or is it not exactly? And how substantial is their "involvement."

Posted by: Sara B. | September 20, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

The Moveon ad - no matter what you want to say - worked. People talked about it, the GOP is all up in arms and sounding whiny, and all now think "Betray-us" when they hear Petraeus. About time the Left started turning the dirty tricks the Right has used against us for 30 years back on them ... karma's a b*tch.

Posted by: Nick | September 20, 2007 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Saying "Petraeus was overly optimistic in his 2004 assessment" and pathetically defending him by saying "[a] claim of 'tangible progress' was >not totally unreasonable

Posted by: uh_huhh | September 20, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

The MoveOn ad helped the Republicans do what they love to do: change the subject from actual events in Iraq (which they're too mentally lazy to follow anyway) to exactly the kind of mindless argument on which they thrive, one based on phoney indignation about things said in the US.

Anything to avoid actually reading, talking or learning about Iraq.

The monicker Betray Us is embarrassing playground stuff. MoveOn might as well have given their donors' money straight to the RNC.

Posted by: OD | September 20, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Saying "Petraeus was overly optimistic in his 2004 assessment" and pathetically defending him by saying "[a] claim of 'tangible progress' was *not totally unreasonable*" does not contradict MoveOn. Doesn't "not totally unreasonable" mean partly unreasonable and, in other words, wrong? The "fact checker" is bending over backwards to bolster Petraeus. "Fact checker" clearly understands that the warmongering bosses at WaPo will tolerate no strong criticism of Saviour Petraeus.

Posted by: uh_huhh | September 20, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Wow. I'm sure according to the "fact checker" the assertions that Iraq had WMDs and Saddam was in cahoots with Osama are still "controversial" and "open to debate." Working on the assumption the truth lies somewhere between the claims of the left and right doesn't make for very good reportage, especially when it comes to Iraq.

Posted by: Mark | September 20, 2007 11:09 AM | Report abuse

'The Report of the Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq states that the new Iraqi armed forces, especially the Army, show clear evidence of developing the baseline infrastructures that lead to the successful formation of a national defense capability.'

Then they need some Pinocchios themselves. The Air Force has no combat aircraft, the Navy has no warships. The Army has no artillery. There is no staff college, no intelligence corps, no engineering corps, no airlift or medevac capability. They have farcical pay arrangements, inadequate barracks, and no punishment for AWOL or desertion - in fact Iraq has the world's only army that hires like McDonalds.

They don't even have mortars. They only have a few old T-72s because Hungary donated some.

'National defense capability' implies the ability to defend your country against potentially hostile neighbours. Iraq's army has nine weak infantry divisions, desperately short of vehicles, plus one theoretical armoured division.

Iran mobilised 280 infantry, mechanised and armoured divisions for Operation Khaibar in 1984.

Posted by: OD | September 20, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

On the nine to 10 years number, you might want to check with your own staff... the information in Murray's story below pretty much the same story Schakowsky repeated on the Bill Maher show last night...does the number of years U.S. troops can be expected to reamin in Iraq boil down to a case of "he said, she said"? (Petraeus vs. Schakowsky)

By Shailagh Murray
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 26, 2007; A08

CHICAGO When Rep. Jan Schakowsky made her first trip to Iraq this month, the outspoken antiwar liberal resolved to keep her opinions to herself. "I would listen and learn," she decided.

At times that proved a challenge, as when Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih told her congressional delegation, "There's not going to be political reconciliation by this September; there's not going to be political reconciliation by next September." Schakowsky gulped -- wasn't that the whole idea of President Bush's troop increase, to buy time for that political progress?

But the real test came over a lunch with Gen. David H. Petraeus, who used charts and a laser pointer to show how security conditions were gradually improving -- evidence, he argued, that the troop increase is doing some good.

Still, the U.S. commander cautioned, it could take another decade before real stability is at hand. Schakowsky gasped. "I come from an environment where people talk nine to 10 months," she said, referring to the time frame for withdrawal that many Democrats are advocating. "And there he was, talking nine to 10 years."

Posted by: vaxsinia | September 20, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Why are people still talking about this stupid ad?

Posted by: gavin d'order | September 20, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Either the Iranians or even the Syrians could knock over Iraq's joke armed forces blindfolded with one hand tied behind their back. According to GW Bush, Iraq was supposed to be a beacon of freedom that posed a standing challenge to countries like these. So by his reasoning, they would clearly pose a military threat to Iraq.

Yet the New Iraqi Army was never planned to be strong enough to face them. What gives?

Simple. Iraq was never meant to have a national defense capability, because the Americans never intended to leave. They planned to keep all the heavy weapons in their permanent bases. Far from Iraq worrying about invasion from Iran, Bush 2003 envisaged an invasion in the other direction.

The Iraqi army being built today is still not even aiming for a national defense capability. Are they training fighter pilots, for example?

This is not an army at all, it's a colonial light infantry auxilary...like the barefoot native rifle militias of 19th century occupied Africa.

Its purpose is to help the Americans defeat the insurgency, and it couldn't even do that alone.

In fact, the Americans never originally planned for Iraq to have an 'Army' at all. When they started rebuilding a force after the 2003 disbandment, they refused to call it the New Iraqi Army (NIA), calling it instead the New Iraqi Corps (NIC). The name was only changed to NIA when, after much derision from locals, the monolingual dunces of the CPA learned that NIC is Arabic slang for "f*ck".

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Oh, if only the Washington Post and other propagandists who stick it to the people would look at and rate their own "reporting" (ha!) and politicians "facts" (ha, ha, ha, ha, ...) with as much scrutiny.

Shame on you Mr. Dobbs.

Posted by: Jukeboy | September 20, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

I would not put it quite so baldly as Jukeboy, but I would say that The Washington Post should try paying as much attention to the veracity of every statement that George W. Bush makes as it does here to what Moveon.org says. If so, we might not have gone to war so easily. But, then, The Washington Post wouldn't have been abdicating its journalistic responsibility, now, would it?

Posted by: Michael Green | September 20, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Well, Fact Checkers, you must be doing your job. You've got people on both sides beating up on you. Congrats!

Posted by: Danielle | September 20, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Mark's comment needs to be amplified... the "truth" is not defined as somewhere between right and left.

Unfortunately for General Petraeus he has now become a much bigger part of the political debate than I personally think he should have been. Crocker's success /failure needs to be scrutinized and from where I sat it was quite simple to do so... politically there has been little or no progress.

MoveOn's ad served to harden both sides of the argument... again. But it doesn't mean they shouldn't have done it. The issue they face is whether their position will cause them to lose the backing of some of the politician's whose support they hope to sustain... whether they care is something only they know.

If there is anger and frustration to distribute, it should go right where it belongs, with the civilian leadership (ie. the President and Congress) who are the ultimate decision makers in this conflict. Bush's deferral to Petraeus is weak and another demonstration of a man who is beholden to the tragic events that his own poor leadership created.

Sad on all counts.

Posted by: Rick | September 20, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Petraeus said on several occasions: "attacks have fallen to a level not seen since June 2006".

US military deaths in Aug 2007 were 84, compared to 61 in June 2006.

By every count, Iraqi civilian fatalities were more than twice as high in Aug 2007 as in June 2006.

http://www.icasualties.org/oif/IraqiDeaths.aspx
Iraqi civilian deaths June 2006: 738
Iraqi civilian deaths Aug 2007: 1598

Posted by: Alun_M | September 20, 2007 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Eversince Katherine Grahan passed away I have watched the Washington Post move steadily to the Right. Once, like the New York Times, the OLD Washington Post was a bastion of accuracy, hard punches and truth. It seems that is no longer the case and its recent smug attacks on Move On.org's full page ad on General Petraeus in the NY Times is a good example. Who checked the Post's facts? Karl Rove? I give the Washington Post four Pinocchios.

Posted by: Jim Guinnessey | September 20, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Hi. I'd like to request a fact check on george bush's latest speech about his war. Thanks in advance.

Posted by: BinkyNH | September 20, 2007 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Was the New York Times required by law to accept this salacious ad? Could the Times have rejected publishing the ad as an ad hominem attack upon an honorable servant of the American people who has spent roughly 4 years in Iraq without his family. I fault the New york Times for accepting money to publish this outright trash. I consider the ad pornographic.Is there no sense of honor and fairness left in our country?

Posted by: jshelton8@yahoo.com | September 20, 2007 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Hi. I'd like to request a fact check on Bush's latest speech about his war. Thanks in advance.

Posted by: BinkyNH | September 20, 2007 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Great feature. We need this, badly.

Please let's now see some truth-squadding of Bush's 9/13 speech.

Thanks.

RBS

Posted by: RBS | September 20, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

This purported "fact" checker is all opinions. Not surprising given that WaPo is still in the tank for this disastrous war. What a joke.

Posted by: truth1 | September 20, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

How about some fact checking of Petraeus? It's odd that you picked the MOveon.org ad but that you take Patraeus at his word.

Are things improving? I know that everyday there are casualties. I know that there are thousands of men and women in the military and in this country who were told that there would be few, if any casualties, and that we'd be greeted as liberators, not occupiers.

Perhaps someone at the Post -- someone, say, in Iraq and not embedded with the Marines in Iraq -- could determine if things are improving, instead of wasting space criticizing the three million members of Moveon.org. Is there anyone in Iraq that works for the Post (and not in the GreenZone)?

Posted by: b | September 20, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Who did the fact checking, Dick Cheney?

Posted by: Rick | September 20, 2007 11:50 AM | Report abuse

"This is a fact-checking operation, not an opinion-checking operation. We will not attempt to call candidates to account for exaggerated political rhetoric. We are interested only in verifiable facts."


Looks like the Fact Checkers failed to follow their own rules right out the gate. MoveOn presented their interpretation of the data, and the Fact Checkers presented theirs, but I don't see any significant difference in the data themselves. The three pinocchios is a huge stretch based on the Fact Checkers'opinion of MoveOn's opinion, not on fact. You blew it, guys!

Posted by: Jess77 | September 20, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

When do you think the Post will have time to "fact check" the administration's justifications for the war and its continuance?
I'd say there would be a maximum number of Pinocchio's awarded along with a considerable number of Geppetto's thrown in...if an uncommon intellectual honesty was used.

Posted by: Wayne | September 20, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Black or white results about a complicated, ongoing war effort should be taken with a grain of salt, as they are often too simplistic or indefensible. I'm not sure anyone, including Petraeus or Moveon.org, could grasp all the implications and effects of a surge, especially in such a short time.

As for the Post, thank you for starting this series. It is a great wake-up check for anyone who might read or listen to various sources without a second-thought on reliability/truthfullness. Never trust just once source of information and always be aware of any of the red flags of propoganda.

Posted by: RC | September 20, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Final Results:

Pinocchio - Pinocchio - Pinocchio - and a Pinocchio

That's 4 Pinocchios for the Phact Checker!

The fact checking seemed rather lightweight and biased. But the ad was flat-out effective.

Republicans are whining mostly because they KNOW that "Betrayus" is both a great theme and great sound bite - that they only wish they could use as their own.

Posted by: Brent Mack | September 20, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

The ad was childish and imprecise. But I'd still rather take the NYT and its MoveOn ads than the Washington Post with its ads from Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Pratt&Whitney, ITT Corp, EADS and God knows what other arms dealers.

The Post routinely runs ads from Lockheed Martin - the papers' number one advertiser (Grumman is second) which claim that this company is in it to promote freedom. Fact check that.

Lockheed Martin was neck-deep in the political campaign to promote the Iraq war.

MoveOn's ad was a one-off for the NYT. Arms dealers' ads appear to be keeping the Post afloat.

No reputable newspaper would touch such things with a bargepole. The conflict of interest is so obvious and deadly - and indeed the dead lie all around.

Posted by: Kevrobb | September 20, 2007 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I agree with commenter RBS that the Truth Squad role is a good one for WaPo. And I don't believe the authors have any ideological axe to grind. But the methodology needs improvement to avoid some of the snafus of this entry. My suggestions:

1. Don't try to factcheck statements that really aren't making factual claims. Just as the FTC doesn't crack down on a restaurant that claims to have the World's Tastiest Hot Dogs, there's no point in correcting Moveon for stating that "everyone knows" that Iraq is unwinnable, or that Petraeus is "at war with the facts." It's just rhetoric, guys. Stick to real factual claims.

2. Ask the author for his/her sources. WaPo obviously erred by claiming that Petraeus did not state that the U.S. will be staying in Iraq for the next 10 years. As the Schakowsky quote provided by commenter vaxsinia shows, he did. This kind of embarrassment could have been avoided by simply asking MoveOn to furnish a source for their claim. (If you did ask, never mind.)

3. Avoid factual quagmires. The debate over declining casualties is subject to multiple interpretations based on multiple sources, and you're not equipped to adjudicate them in this forum. You may think you are, but your discussion here is too credulous. Stick to clear-cut factual issues.

4. Make the "fact-checker" more open-source-friendly. In the old days, a newspaper fact-check was really the last word. Any mistakes or biases in the article remained uncorrected. Today, you have access to a whole community of people who will fact-check your fact-check for free. Commenters have noted several mistakes in your MoveOn entry, and that's perfectly natural. An individual author is simply not as well-informed as a large community of people motivated to look for mistakes. Find a way to make each entry more of a continuous process, rather than an end product.

Just to underline: good feature, keep it up. But emphasize what's really checkable and incorporate valid criticism.

Posted by: TomH | September 20, 2007 12:13 PM | Report abuse

I love how everyone is sh*tting all over the Post for checking out this ad. For the record, CNN also checked in and found it pretty lacking.

What's even more amusing is the posters who are disputing whether or not staements of opinion can be deemed correct or not...and they are using opinons of their own. The hypocricy evident here has truly reached all new levels.

It was a stupid ad that totally backfired.

I really love how liberals like to use and abuse the military to suit thier own purposes. When Shinseki and Abezaid voiced doubts about the war, they were the darlings of the left. Here comes Petraeus and he's being crapped all over.

Makes me embarassed that I once gave money to MoveOn. That'll never happen again.

Posted by: Thin Man | September 20, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

"A claim of "tangible progress" was not totally unreasonable in 2004"

From you or me, perhaps. Not from Petraeus. He wasn't estimating or guessing, he had ALL the info and he KNEW, yet he chose to mislead. If he didn't, then he is incompetent.

"This is a fact-checking operation, not an opinion-checking operation. We will not attempt to call candidates to account for exaggerated political rhetoric. We are interested only in verifiable facts."

...of course, exceptions will be made as circumstances dictate.

Posted by: zukermand | September 20, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

We all know the Post is THE poster-rag in Pinocchio News department, AP close second. They BETRAY us all daily with their War-enabling editorials. All the truth that's fit to print is on the op-ed of NYT.

Posted by: P Meter Man | September 20, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

And you call your column "Fact Checker"??? You open with this:
"General Petraeus is a military man constantly at war with the facts."

And then, with your Fact Ckeck hat on, say this:
"While some of the facts and statistics cited by General Petraeus can legitimately be questioned and debated, MoveOn.org offers only partial support for such a sweeping accusation. The data they do cite is itself open to challenge."

One just has to wonder what facts you actually checked. I mean, almost everything is open to challenge, but there are facts out there, many facts. Your answer is, to put it nicely, meally mouthed, and does a disservice to those who will come to your column to get facts checked out.

It gets worse ... in response to:
"In 2004, just before the election, he said there was "tangible progress" in Iraq and that "Iraqi leaders are stepping forward."

You respond:
"With hindsight, Petraeus was overly optimistic in his 2004 assessment. But does this statement support MoveOn.org's indictment against him?"

Doesn't this SUPPORT MoveOn? In hindsight Patraeus was "overly optimistic"? His job is to not do that yet he did it. What you are missing in all of this is the pattern, a pattern where the truth is not completely buried, but is twisted to meet the notion that progress, success, and victory are just around the corner. Some facts used, others ignored, most twisted or massaged. We used to call people who gave heavily biased answers "shifty". Now we salute them. Something is wrong and moveOn should be applauded for exposing it.

I'll just give one more sorry example:
In response to:
"Every independent report on the ground situation in Iraq shows that the surge strategy has failed."

You say:
"This is as inaccurate as are bald claims, by Sen. John McCain and others, that the surge "is working." Independent reports show that the results have been mixed."

What you fail to say is that those "mixed" results, when added together, pointed toward failure. One wonders how you would have described WW2 from Hitler's perspective in December 1944. They were doing great in the battle of the buldge. Other places not so well. Mixed I guess you would say, but overall a valid assessment was they were losing badly, but all we hear is the results are mixed, so you cannot say failure as a fact. This is probabaly why Bush seems to think we are winning, and your fact checking does not dispute this notion even though every independent report I've seen says though the results are mixed, MoveOn is right, the surge strategy has failed overall.

Posted by: Sully | September 20, 2007 12:22 PM | Report abuse

"Fact Checker" from the folks that were the main cheerleaders for this disaster (war) in the beginning

Posted by: Fooled No More | September 20, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

This is a joke. Most of the "facts" are opinions and the remainder derive from questions asked of the same truth-challenged group. The one disallowed because MoveOn's ad stated ten years and Petraeus said "nine or ten" was especially inane. Please. Beside which this administration set the bar quite high when it comes to blatant mistruth. MoveOn's ad is disturbing but fair and equitable, especially considering the tone of the arena in which they fight.

egon

Posted by: egon fawlkner | September 20, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Fact checkers should typically use more than one source to check facts like death tolls - especially since the guesstimates vary from about 70,000 (insultingly low) to over a million (plausible, if high, though this incorporates EFFECTS of war also, which must be considered).

Regardless, the "Checker" neglected to mention the fact that Petraus' report was produced and vetted by the White House, not Petraus himself, as was public knowledge several months ago, and as such was a purely political event rather than a presentation of new facts, which frankly have been available for quite some time through the few decent news sources able to report from/about this dangerous climate, i.e. McClatchy, Patrick Cockburn of the Independent, and Juan Cole, whose overview of Arabic sources and academic analysis of the situation over the last 6 years has been peerless. (and he links to all of his sources).

Posted by: Tylor | September 20, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

It would be important to this topic to mention the the Gen. Betray-us name was penned by troops who served under him, and not by MoveOn.

Posted by: flounder | September 20, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

A laughable piece.

"A claim of "tangible progress" was not totally unreasonable in 2004. "

Absurd argument on its face.

"It seems difficult to dispute that there has been progress in some parts of Iraq, such as Anbar province."

Contradicts nothing in ad.

"Independent reports show that the results have been mixed."

Wrong. IBC and AP show no seasonal change in violence, if not an increase.

"However, the Petraeus report specifically includes data for car bombs. (See Slide 4.)"

Took a look at slide 4 - no such attribution. And since data collection technique is classified, no way to verify.

"Multi-National Force Iraq, however, says that it does NOT use a shot to the back or front of the head as a means of distinguishing sectarian murders from ordinary killings."

That claim is no more verifiable than any other. Again, classified data collection techniques.

You then proceed to verify the rest of Moveon's claims.

"Most importantly, General Petraeus will not admit what everyone knows; Iraq is mired in an unwinnable religious civil war."

Yes, they bought the ad, so they're allowed to editorialize. Unlike you, "fact-checker".

Oh and factcheck.org? Why don't you just post a link to wikipedia and save us all the trouble of reading your nonsense.

Posted by: HeavyJ | September 20, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

I'm a big fan of the Fact Checker, and I think the best indication that the job is being done well is that the section seems to really get under the skin of people on both the right and the left. According to yesterday's posters, the WaPo wants the US to lose the war. Today's posters seem sure that the Post is in the tank for the war. I think instead of hurling insults and protecting their own line of thinking, people should use the fact checker for what it's here for, getting away from rhetoric and getting to a useful debate. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Charles S | September 20, 2007 12:27 PM | Report abuse

This column is a miserable failure. I will read it next time and give you the softball 2 strikes rule. However, fact checking is checking facts, i.e. assessing whether the statement written is true. You will state that MoveOn's statement was true, and then go on to say that many people disagree with the conclusion it gestures at. What's sublime about the MoveOn ad is that they give General Petraus's EXACT WORDS in many cases, which condemn him enough to those who believe the war is a failure. They don't even really have to make the statement that the war is a failure because it is implicit in the minds of the readers already! When they do choose to condemn the war it's clear to the most obvious observer that it's an opinion (and thus should avoid you "fact checking" that unless you think people aren't allowed to have beliefs) A real fact check would have given this a one P rating.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

If all you guys are so damn brilliant and able to so easily punch holes in the WP's Fact Check, how come you're not writing FOR the Post instead of whining on its blogs?

Posted by: Clowns to the left, joker to the right | September 20, 2007 12:29 PM | Report abuse

well, that laid that trumped-up controversy to rest, huh?
great public service there.
Geniuses, the mere fact than an ostensibly non-political general is publishing an op-ed extolling progress in the war on the eve of an election is a bit of a red flag, don't you think? This guy is running for office as a Republican within five years, tops. That was the ultimate truth of the ad: this guy is a hack. Get over it.

Posted by: cresttwo | September 20, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

the ad backfired, huh? please point out the surge in support for the testifying general. ...

Posted by: linda | September 20, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Because we're talking about the ad and not the failures of the Bushies and their War of Choice. Get it?

Posted by: Yes, backfired | September 20, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

War is the lowest form of human endeavor.

War entails all of the (humanly) negative connotations imaginable.

The greatest of all generations is yet to come. The generation that sustains peace at all costs - short of war - is the greatest of generations.

Never forgive or forget anyone who has NOT sustained peace at all costs - short of war.

Posted by: rrw | September 20, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I did not like the theme of this ad at all, but it is just one ad and enough already! I wish the Post and other media would have been so dilligent about checking the Swift Boat Liars ads back in '04. What about the ads the Republicans ran that compared Max Cleland to Osama bin Laden? I don't recall Limbaugh or Fox News expressing outrage at that garbage.

This Ad Watch piece seems to be in the Post due to the other ones that were done on right-wingers. This habit of having to balance everything out is annoying and dangerous. There are not two sides to every single damn story.

Posted by: Eric Crossley | September 20, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"Every independent report on the ground situation in Iraq shows that the surge strategy has failed."
This is as inaccurate as are bald claims, by Sen. John McCain and others, that the surge "is working." Independent reports show that the results have been mixed.

I disagree with your analysis and agree with MoveOn's claim. The goal for the surge is to buy time for political reconciliation to occur. Although there were limitted military success, but there were no political reconciliation among the groups. The surge failed to achieve any ground on its main goal. So, it is a failed strategy.

Posted by: DougNYC | September 20, 2007 12:44 PM | Report abuse

"While some of the facts and statistics cited by General Petraeus can legitimately be questioned and debated, MoveOn.org offers only partial support for such a sweeping accusation. The data they do cite is itself open to challenge."

There are people in prison for manipulating the numbers in the manner that this man did. Not including car bombs, not including Sunni on Sunni killings, not including people shot in front of the head vs. the back of the head in the sectarian violence count is out right lying at best. It is Enron in the military.


Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Unless we can stand united and show the world that we are willing to put aside our differences when it comes to supporting our military leaders, then the terrorist belief that they can in fact defeat us by simply stirring the flames and watching us destroy ourselves will be proven right.

You may not like what General Petraeus has say but when you defame him by calling him a traitor, you defame America. Of course your free to challenge his ideas, but even that should be done with great care and prudence. If we will never support our leaders unless we agree with 100% then our country will never have the strength it needs to defeat Alkida.

For those that support our troops, which includes our military leaders, by giving them the respect they deserve I thank you for helping defend America, and for those that defame our leaders please realize that you are aiding the enemy, and ultimately making the job our soldiers more dangerous and more difficult.

Posted by: Carey | September 20, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

The rhetoric of "traitors" or "betrayal" implies imperatives of allegiance which I always find distasteful. Hence, I did not like it in MoveOn's add. However, it should be obvious to anyone who has eyes to see, and read, that Petraeus does his best to give a positive view of what is actually a hideous reality so as to best serve his masters in the White House. In this respect, the way this "Fact Checker" both softens Petraeus's lies and relativizes the ad's simple truths by speaking each time about "questionable" assertions, etc., is much more revolting than MoveOn's use of the word "betrayal". Sure, you can "question" everything. But had Petraeus supported the notion of racial superiority, would the Post have qualified it as "questionable"? And had the MoveOn ad said that everyone knows the claim is hogwash, would the Post have said that "it is incorrect" to make that claim? At some point, caution becomes plain hypocrisy.

Posted by: U.E. | September 20, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Dobbs definitely gets a long (brown) nose for this hatchet job . . . love the part where he slams MoveOn for relying on WaPo's reporting ("True, the Post has reported this . . . " etc).

Posted by: TR | September 20, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Iraq war failed. Surge failed. WashPo reporting failed. Why should anyone believe WaPo assessment of the truth? Your credibility is zero.

Posted by: I smell a rat | September 20, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

As pointed out by others, the second 'fact' (about tangible progress in 2004) certainly falls within the "political rhetoric" column and should not have been included.

However, I find it very odd that Dobbs listed the fact as:

***In 2004, just before the election, he said there was "tangible progress" in Iraq and that "Iraqi leaders are stepping forward."***

If that is the 'fact' you are checking, you should have simply pointed out whether it was true or false that Petraeus said those things. If it's true (and it is), then that fact checks out.

The same is true for the 'shot to the back of the head' thing. MoveOn said that WaPo reported it. That is undisputably true. If it turns out that the WaPo article is incorrect, then fact-check the WaPo article, not the MoveOn ad.

This was a lousy job and obviously skewed towards presenting a particular viewpoint. It's very disappointing. The editors need to revisit the entire concept, perhaps ensuring that more than one person is involved in the process so that biases dont creep in, as they clearly did here.

Posted by: TG | September 20, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

I would rather see fact checking on the generals comments than on what others are saying about the generals comments. Why add that extra layer and confusion? Looks like political correctness in trying to attack the democrats and the republicans EQUALLY or covering of rear ends against accusations of bias from foaming at the mouth rabid republicans. Albiet those attacking republicans are scary.

Posted by: beth | September 20, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

The Fact Checker counters Moveon's GAO, Congressional, and independently sourced facts with facts supplied by the White House and Pentagon. The Washington Post believes that White House facts are more truthful.

Posted by: tristam | September 20, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

When the ad said "we won't hear what Americans are desperate to hear" that should be termed as hyperbole and, as such, probably shouldn't be fact checked. They didn't bother to fact check when all of the Bushies were talking about mushroom clouds and when you get right down to it there's very little difference between the two statements--except, of course, that Iraq had little or no nuclear capacity and that an overwhelming majority of Americans do want us out of Iraq in a very limited amount of time, if not immediately.

The general seems to have decided to inject himself into the political dialog. By doing that he risks his reputation as a scholar and warier and puts himself into a position where his loyalties can and will be judged. I'm certain that he knows this and thinks that the battle he is fighting is worth the risk. I only hope that he realizes that people like MoveOn are not the enemy, that they are just as patriotic in their own way.

Posted by: Tom Fiore | September 20, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Your reporter wrote,

"The Iraq war may or may not be winnable. But it is incorrect to claim that "everyone knows" it is "unwinnable."

This is moronic. The USA, with no provocation, destroyed the infrastructure, the political structure of Iraq, and has murdered or displaced over three million Iraqis. That is "winning", but only a moron thinks of this one-sided action as a war.

It is illegal aggression, and under the Uniform code of military justice every US soldier who has taken up arms against an Iraqi could be charged with following the illegal orders of his superiors. This aggression is, under international law and treaty and custom, illegal, from those who fund it to those who prosecute it.

This is not my opinion. As a military lawyer it is a fact.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Moveon.org is not a "anti-war group" it is a liberal organization who's sole focus is to attack and skewer anything Republican or Conservative.

Posted by: Terrence | September 20, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Where were you for the swiftboat liars?
I think they set the standard, they should be used as your rating system.

Posted by: SamEllison | September 20, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

While I appreciate this feature, this isn't an encouraging um, spin.

The results in Iraq have been "mixed"? You've veered dangerously close to straw man territory, since MoveOn hasn't claimed there's been no progress anywhere. The overwhelming thrust of both the recent NIE and the GAO report have been negative, much more so than Petraeus presented. The Bush administration has not met the benchmarks it itself outlined. Political reconciliation is nowhere in the future. But sure, those deck chairs are now in a very pretty arrangement there on the Titanic. Where's your larger context?

The most glaring issue in Petraeus' testimony was the methodology of counting violence, which was strikingly inaccurate and misleading. It's one thing to admit to a reality when challenged, quite another to volunteer it.

Petraeus may be a fine soldier, but it's completely legitimate to question his crediblity and accuracy, as you note. It's also legitimate to question MoveOn's rhetorical style. However, the impression you leave is that Petraeus' upbeat assessment was mostly accurate, and it simply wasn't, as your own paper has shown. This is because you employ a rebuttal style with a very narrow and selective framing without providing a larger context. Why not, for example, say, this line is rhetorical excess of MoveOn's part, but in contrast, here's some fair criticism of Petraeus on the point they were trying to make?

May we expect you to fact-check all of Petraeus' testimony? Or Bush's speech last week? (Kessler already did that.) A thorough fact-checking of Petraeus would go a long way to putting MoveOn's ad in context. Ideally, the Petraeus fact-check would have occurred first.

Posted by: Bat99 | September 20, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Is it really useful to "fact check" an ad of this sort, that is primarily making qualitative arguments assessing a very complex situation? Does it really help to have a Voice of God declare that it's not factually correct to say that the surge is not working? Does it really help your readers understand the debate over the war to say that:

"The Iraq war may or may not be winnable. But it is incorrect to claim that "everybody knows" it is "unwinnable."

Or are you just insulting their intelligence?

Posted by: Matt in Montana | September 20, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

I can't see that you address the GOP's main beef concerning the ad: use of the term "General Betrayeus".

Given what General Colin Powell did at the United Nations, it is reasonable to assume that a general may try to blow smoke at the public.

Posted by: Bartolo | September 20, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I really object to the way this feature was handled -- especially in light of the absolutely terrible job the Post (along with every other paper in the country) did in terms of critically evaluating Bush's claims before the war began.

Clearly, the Post is applying a double-standard here; MoveOn, like "big tobacco," is one of the political class's designated targets -- a group that we can all agree is bad. But what has MoveOn ever done to deserve this treatment? Punning (limply) on a general's name? Have we finally reached "free speech parity" with countries like Zimbabwe, Uzbekistan, and Iran? Are the generals officially above gentle critique?

Many of the "factual claims" you purport to check -- such as "everyone knows the war is unwinnable" -- are actually interpretive statements or opinions, not verifiable factual assertions. A claim like "everybody knows the war is unwinnable" doesn't require "fact-checking"; it's not as though a naive reader could actually rely on the truth of this statement to his detriment. This statement -- "everyone knows the war is unwinnable" -- and others like, are standard, appropriate political rhetoric.

Also, what's with these weaselly phrases like "the data they cite is open to challenge." When has any "data" not been "open to challenge?" If claims this vague were made throughout the MoveOn ad, how would they fare under your own fact-checking system?

I could continue, but it doesn't seem worth the trouble. If this is the Post's answer to the problem of deceptive political rhetoric, I have to say that the cure seems worse than the disease. Really, though, this piece just embodies so much of what's wrong with the media, and what led us into this war in the first place; the article is full of unearned condescension and the faux naivete TV newscasters adopt to signal their contempt for the intelligence of their viewing public. (The cutesy "Pinocchio meter" is similarly insulting.)

It's revealing, finally, that the Post's fact-checking energies would be aimed at -- literally -- the one public voice offering unvarnished criticism of Petraeus . . . the one voice that doesn't couch everything in reverent tones.

Posted by: My Man Godfrey | September 20, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

MoveOn: General Petraeus is a military man constantly at war with the facts.

WaPo: The data they [MoveOn] do cite is itself open to challenge.

trippin: The same goes for the self-appointed "fact checker."

----------

MoveOn: In 2004, just before the election, he said there was "tangible progress"

WaPo: A claim of "tangible progress" was not totally unreasonable in 2004.

trippin: Oh, you mean like "Mission Accomplished"?

----------

MoveOn: And last week Petraeus, the architect of the escalation of troops in Iraq, said "We say we have achieved progress...

WaPo: Again the question is, how much progress?

trippin: No, the question is, how do you define progress? While we're bleeding, the Iraqi parliament went on vacation. The only progress is the political progress we ostensibly conducted this surge to facilitate, and there is NO progress. NONE. ZERO. One Pinocchio for WaPo.

-----------

MoveOn: Every independent report on the ground situation in Iraq shows that the surge strategy has failed.

WaPo: This is as inaccurate as are bald claims, by Sen. John McCain and others, that the surge "is working." Independent reports show that the results have been mixed.

trippin: Again, no political progress means FAILURE. We CANNOT kill our way out of this problem. You have a problem with the use of the word "every"? That's two Pinocchios for WaPo.

---------

MoveOn: Yet the General claims a reduction in violence.

WaPo: Independent monitors such as Iraq Body Count agree that there probably has been some reduction in violence from the last few months of 2006...

Oh, but later...MoveOn again: According to news reports, there have been more civilian deaths and more American soldier deaths in the past three months than in any other summer we've been there.

And WaPo again: True on U.S. military deaths. The data on Iraqi civilian deaths are much more controversial [senseless grasping-at-straws argument ensues...]

trippin: You take issue with debunking the claim that there's a reduction in violence, insisting that there must be because you found someone to tell you so, and then turn right around and admit that deaths are up. I don't know how you measure violence, but in this household, that's three Pinocchios for WaPo.

-----------

MoveOn: We'll hear of neighborhoods where violence has decreased. But we won't hear that those neighborhoods have been ethnically cleansed.

WaPo: Reporters based in Baghdad have reported that one reason for the declining violence is the ethnic cleansing of neighborhoods...Petraeus did not dispute a New York Times report that 35,000 Iraqis have left their homes in Baghdad as part of ethnic cleansing.

trippin: FOUR MILLION IRAQIS HAVE BEEN DISPLACED. FOUR MILLION. HOW MANY CUTESY LITTLE PINOCCHIOS DO YOU GET FOR THAT? HOW ABOUT FOUR FREAKING MILLION CUTESY LITTLE PINOCCHIOS??

Oh why bother. This is obscene. This is the most slushy pile of bull screed ever stacked to this height by this right wing war mongering news outlet -- cheerleaders for this folly from beginning to end while the perpetrator of 9/11, Osama bin Laden, still runs free. One thing's for sure: you won't be handing out any cute little cartoon characters to me for that unchallengeable assertion.

Posted by: trippin | September 20, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

three points:

Get over the on the one hand on the other hand. If you cannot verify anything yourself your claim to be a fact checker is as dubious an anyone else's.

This a political ad: and it is attack politics. The issue is do we trust Gen Petraeus because he has a uniform and lots of charts. If that is so then can we have Gen Taguba and Shinseki's reports/comments fact checked.

I am interested in what Gen Petraeus says and does and I am not pre-disposed to disbelieve him. But I won't believe him because he is in uniform.

Polls after his report suggests that the US public does not give credence to his report. It went down.

Posted by: Alan | September 20, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

The Post (and the Times and every other major media outlet) bought the Administration's sale of this war in 2002. It went along with the WMD claim, the Al Qaida = Iraq clam - even Bush's state of the union speech where he, umm, fibbed about uranium in Niger.

Don't get hoodwinked by these guys again. You think the General isn't a tool of this administration? When the White House, for months, said "wait, Senate! Don't vote on Iraq yet! Wait for Petraeus! See what he says!" Well whaddya know? Petraeus, in the face of all logic and sense, tells us the war is going swimmingly.

The war stinks and it's a mess for which this administration is wholly responsible. MoveOn bought an ad and it's making noise. Good for them.

Posted by: kramdenyards | September 20, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

I thought that your analysis of the MoveOn ad actually supported it more than detracted from it.

Why don't you do a fact check on the Petraeus report itself? That would be a lot more useful and important than deconstructing a political ad, which is inherently going to be selective and biased regardless of political offiliation.

Posted by: unconvinced | September 20, 2007 1:49 PM | Report abuse

The "Fact Checker" here is not taking issues with the facts reported in the article, but with the opinions formed from those facts. It is a fact that the General said we were showing substantial progress in 2004. It is a fact that he didn't anticipate what has happened in Iraq. But the "Fact Checker" still takes issue with it. The "Fact Checker" even finds problems with facts that directly cite the Washington Post. Maybe the next moveon ad should all be based on WashPo sources and the "fact checker" can drub his/her own paper.

Three noses for differences in interpretation? Wow...

p.s. quote marks are used when a term has a non-literal meaning. What WashPo readers need is a real, honest fact checker, not a "fact checker."

Posted by: Clay | September 20, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

The GAO reported that only 3 out of 18 benchmarks were met. Michael Dobbs calls that mixed results. I wish I could do correctly answer 30 percent of my math test in the 7th grade and pass that test. Mike, you're obviously an idiot. Get another line of work.

Posted by: Joe | September 20, 2007 1:59 PM | Report abuse

If you were to rate this "Fact-Checker" episode against the self-stated standard:
("Our goal is to shed as much light as possible on controversial claims and counter-claims involving important national issues and the records of the various presidential candidates.") The you failed. Even granting your characterization of each factual innaccuracy/exaggeration, your award of 3 pinnochio's is not warranted. The most you can show is spin and leaving out inconvenient truths. But now MoveOn opponents have a "Post gave 3 pinnochios" sound-byte to throw around. Shameful!

Posted by: res publica | September 20, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Talk about Pinocchios? The Bush Administration deserves 10 Pinocchios for the countless lies and half-truths they've been spewing since the beginning of this war.

It is high time for the left wing viewpoint to be given its due in the American media, when all we hear is the Bush and wacko right wing view broadcast by the likes of Faux News and Glenn "Jerrk" Beck.

Posted by: 2greekdc | September 20, 2007 2:06 PM | Report abuse


And Mr. Dobbs's credentials in impartiality are exactly what?
Universally accepted or something?

I could set up a fact-checking site on the internet in the name of my long-dead grandmother and that would mean as much as this tosh. There is as much unsupported opinion in "Fact-Checker" as anywhere else. Meanwhile, AirForceOne-Brain sells his own facts to the American people every day without any oversight whatsoever.

What we need is "Fact-Checker and Impeacher", folks.

We have, without a doubt, the worst president, and the most dangerous one, which the USA has ever had, and yet the Washington Post's investigative reporters don't seem to be bothering to look for ways of representing the best interests of the country by talking to the majority of Americans, who are not fanatical Republicans.

The WaPo is becoming a really sloppy rag.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 2:11 PM | Report abuse

You have got to be kidding me. This isn't a fact check, this is a PR fax for Petraeus. I love the fawning beltway tone of this thing, the butter doesn't melt in our mouth cadences:

General Petraeus is a military man constantly at war with the facts.

"While some of the facts and statistics cited by General Petraeus can legitimately be questioned and debated, MoveOn.org offers only partial support for such a sweeping accusation. The data they do cite is itself open to challenge."

That is so sweet - we still have enough of a right to free speech left to legitimately question our lord and savior! Let's celebrate!

This whining, D.C.-centric tone will surely make the 'reporter' - or flak, as he should more properly be labeled - an extra special friend of Fred Hiatt (whose editorials, of course, will never be subject to Post fact checking - a comparison of Hiatt's mistatements and lies to the MoveOn org ad would be enlightening, wouldn't it? but too embarrassing for even Hiatt's partisans, or the Bushie group at the Post, to endure). Brownnosing does get you everywhere in Washington, but it outside Oz, one can only look at this exercise with the repulsion one should reserve for extreme forms of pornography.

Posted by: Roger | September 20, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

TO: Clowns to the left, joker to the right.
"He who lies down with dogs, gets up with fleas" - Confusus or Madonna.

Posted by: P Meter Man | September 20, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

MOVEON.ORG

WHATEVER YOU'RE DOING IT'S WORKING - KEEP IT UP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 2:19 PM | Report abuse

FACT CHECKER - YOU MEAN BUSH PUSHERS.

THAT'S AL'IGHT IT WILL BE ALL OVER SOON.

AND THAT;S FOR SURE IS A FACT CHECKER

Posted by: darson1 | September 20, 2007 2:21 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post: defending the conventional wisdom from the slings and arrows of outrageous reality. What a waste. I only come to this site for Froomkin, and here I allowed myself to be distracted by the "Fact Checker." What was I thinking? What a deeply flawed "journalistic" enterprise you are.

Posted by: Seer | September 20, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

Once you start covering Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, you'll be worth taking seriously.

Posted by: estiv | September 20, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Fact checkers should stick to what can be verified, i.e. facts. Apparently, very little about the situation in Iraq can be verified, so "fact checking" the political discussion may be premature. Not to mention, there is also a lot of outright fraud and dissembling going on when it comes to facts about Iraq.

This fact check did not use multiple sources in its discussion of the current death rate in Iraq, and it clearly descended to the level of an editorial when it took aim at the target's rhetoric.

Strange that the Post should wait until now to start checking the facts in the air. I wonder how often we will see this feature in future. Perhaps there will be little demand for it. I myself find it more a matter of amusement that the Post could pretend to disinterested fact checking about Iraq or anything worth talking about in Washington.

Posted by: fzdybel | September 20, 2007 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Sir,
I read your article (both sides)with great interest and in many instances I have the feeling that the opinions are very close although it does not look like. What really disturbes me is that I believe that the majority of the committee members don't have the facts available to really challenge the reports of 4-Star Gen. Dav.H. Petraeus and career Amb. Ryan C. Crocker. A good example is Sen. H. Clinton
her comments during the Committee session I consider as very poor.

Posted by: Ricardo Kolbe (Germany) | September 20, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Interesting, this fact checker, Michael Dobbs, is a member of an institute headed, at the moment, by Crocker, the Ambassador to Iraq - the USIP. But why let a little conflict of interest prevent you from defending your buddies? Go to the USIP org page to find out further information.

Wow. I do wonder how the Post company thinks the newspaper is going to survive if it continues to cater to a deadender right wing audience that will never subscribe to the Post? The answer, I suppose, is that brownnosing conservatives is the Post's way of promoting its other businesses. A shame, though, to see how trashed this paper has become.

Posted by: roger | September 20, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Dobbs, we're all eating you alive in here...Who wants the bone!

Posted by: P Meter Man | September 20, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

A Fact-checker correction: the Car Bombs are not listed on Slide 4, but on Slide 10, under "High Profile Attacks".

But are all Car Bombs classified as High Profile? There is no way to know, since the methodology behind Petraeus' stats are classified. I have some sympathy for Fact-Checker, because this makes it impossible for him to do his job properly.

What Move On did present were the pieces of that methodology made publicly available, which do, in fact, tend to cast doubt on Petraeus' stats. In particular, given the seasonal nature of violence in Iraq (which was entirely left out of Petraeus' report), we will need to see the violence-level of December '07 before we can make any honest assessment of the "surge" impact as compared to December '06.

And the Fact-Checker engaged in some selective fact-presentation of his own: the report denying that a shot to the back or the front of the head was used to distinguish sectarian killings from criminal killings was issued on September 11: the day AFTER the ad ran. You can't blame Move On for that - anymore than you can fact-check the "classified" denial.

And this brings us to the fundamental flaw in the Fact-Checking: this ad ran PRIOR to Petraeus' testimony. It was a prediction of what they thought would be said, not an analysis of what Petraeus' did say. To predict inaccurately is not the equivalent of fudging facts.

More significantly, it leaves out the reality that the ad almost certainly influenced Petraeus' testimony. We will never know what claims he might have made if the Move On ad had never run. If Petraeus did pull back from making the over-statements Move On predicted, we may very well have Move On's ad to thank for it.

Posted by: Dudley | September 20, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I think the rating system needs to be expanded a bit. The Pinnochio symbol suggests an outright lie. The MoveOn ad, for the most part, was just political spin--presenting the facts in what could be a misleading manner.

And as someone suggested before, rather than looking at the MoveOn ad, it would be much more valuable to look at the Petraeus report itself.

That said, I'm disappointed with MoveOn for going so far in criticizing the General. The left has passed up an opportunity to make Petraeus into a unifying figure around whom both sides could rally and work out a compromise solution to ending the war. (For the record, I'm a Democrat.)

Posted by: Josh | September 20, 2007 2:37 PM | Report abuse

The fact checkers are the best. Who else is even trying to do what they're doing?

Posted by: CT | September 20, 2007 2:38 PM | Report abuse

I can already see some errors in whoever at the WashingtonPost FACTChecker are making

Why not allow people to comment on YOUR finality when you react to moveon.org

I have YET to visit that site personally - I generally stay away from anything Fox News obsesses over, they put a decoy dummy beat up doll in the picture to have a fake dialogue, that and Huffington - DID register at huffington recently under same nick here - no _'s though, but haven't actually check the site out.

If you want to promote TRUTH

Please let the COMMUNITY share facts as relevant that can further the truth.

One of your posts is leaving out General Petraeus's response to Joe Biden asking how long US troops can be expected to be in IRaq.

The bottom line here folks is - there is NO reason to attack or even bring IN General Petraeus - this is a smoke screen.

HE - and every other sr. US Military leader SAYS - a Military Solution in Iraq can NOT work.

PERIOD.

you want to run tripp tripe about this -you go ahead.

Monica Lewinsky blew a president
Monica Goodling blew a nation

that's my latest sound byte I'm sharing.

Posted by: bushes_worst_nightmare | September 20, 2007 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Openleft says it best:

Since the Senate seems poised to vote on a Sense of the Senate resolution condemning political speech against the war and General Petraeus, at the very least the Senate should be comprehensive about it. Before the vote takes place, someone should offer an amendment to the resolution, condemning all of the following:

* Condemn Senator Hagel, who said the following about Petraeus's testimony:

[A] dirty trick on the American people when you send a military man out there to basically do a political sell-job...It's not only a dirty trick, but it's dishonest, it's hypocritical, it's dangerous and irresponsible.

* Condemn protests against the war, especially those that took place last weekend. Surely, Americans freely assembling to protest the war hurts the troops, and I bet that more than one of the protesters were MoveOn.org members.

* Condemn the press for conducting polls showing that more people think Petraeus was not being honest in his testimony than think he was being honest. Surely, they are also calling Petraeus a traitor, by suggesting that he would lie. News outlets in question include CNN and Fox News.

* Condemn those Americans who voted against members of Congress who are in favor of the war back in 2006. I know that is over forty million people, but hey, if they are going to send a message against the troops, then the Senate should send a message against them.

* Condemn the United Church of Christ for organizing against the war. Once again, I bet that some MoveOn.org members are also in the United Church of Christ.

* Condemn General Petraeus's superior, CentCom Chief Admiral William Fallon for insulting Petraeus, and for daring to actually be Petraeus's superior officer:

Fallon told Petraeus [in March] that he considered him to be "an ass-kissing little chickensh*t" and added, "I hate people like that", the sources say. That remark reportedly came after Petraeus began the meeting by making remarks that Fallon interpreted as trying to ingratiate himself with a superior.

* Condemn every woman who General Petraeus found attractive in high school for not going out on a date with him.

Democrats should offer such an amendment to any condemnation of political speech in the Senate. And maybe, while they are at it, they should throw in a condemnation of Edward Murrow for talking about Senate McCarthy on television in a negative light. I mean, if the Senate has decided that there is time to be spent condemning political speech and no time to actually hold extended debate on things like the Webb amendment, then they should at least be thorough. After all, talking negatively about the Iraq war, and especially talking negatively about General Petraeus, should probably be illegal, but if condemning is the best we can do, then so be it.

Posted by: Buck Batard | September 20, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

This is ludicrous. This "analysis" desperately tries to indict the MoveOn ad while acknowledging all the way through that the ad is substantially truthful in every single claim that it makes.

The nitpick about the "everyone knows" statement is so petty as to reduce every one of the criticisms in the article to the level of irrelevant contrivance. Any cogent argument legitimately countering the content of the MoveOn ad would have absolutely no need to cite such a trivial item.

Good thing for MoveOn that there were no typos in the ad, eh?

Posted by: MAS | September 20, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

The statement "General Petraeus is ... constantly at war with the facts," is not a statement of fact. It's a subjective statement. You can't fact check a subjective statement, Dobbs. You moron.

Posted by: alltwisty | September 20, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, Gen. Petraeus is absorbing the doubt which accrues to Pres. Bush, who, since taking office has been less than truthful, witness Mr. Bush's quoted "mistakes":

1.  "The President told us the August 6 report was historical in nature."  That is quoted from page 260 of the 9/11 Commision Report.  Further up that same page the Report tells us that during the summer of 2001 when threats of terrorist attacks abounded, Pres. Bush himself "had on several occasions asked his briefers whether any of the threat pointed to the United States."

According to the 9/11 Report, on Aug. 6, 2001 two CIA analysts responded to the President's directive and warned him that "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." was "CURRENT AND SERIOUS." How then could Mr. Bush, a graduate of Yale with an MBA from Harvard, truthfully interpret that warning as "historical in nature"?

2.  "We will do everything in our power to help the people in the
communities affected by this storm." Those are the words of Pres. Bush quoted from a White House press release dated Aug. 28, 2005, the day before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast.  In that same press release Pres. Bush warns of the perils of the then-Category Five hurricane, yet after the storm's destruction for days failed to provide the promised federal aid even as people were suffering and dying.  9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean on Sept. 8, 2005, in an interview with
Reuters, declared that the lagging aid "cost a lot lives."

3.   "By our actions, we will secure the peace, and lead the world to a better day."  Pres. Bush's pledge to the American people, from his Oct. 7, 2002 speech  selling the war in Iraq.  Four and a half years later, we are far from peace and Iraq and the world is in turmoil.

4.   "Dead or alive."  A pledge Pres. Bush made repeatedly in the fall of 2001, to bring to justice "dead or alive" mass murderer Osama bin Laden, universally acknowledged as the force behind the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which left 3,000 people dead on our soil. Yet today, in Sept. 2007, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." is still current and serious; bin Laden, still very much alive, remains as much a threat to our country as he was in August 2001.

Posted by: DaveF | September 20, 2007 2:53 PM | Report abuse

I am the Quibble Checker and I give Dodds and WaPoo five Pinocchios for quibbling with the fact.

MoveOn.Org was right. They may have been a bit uncivil, but who can blame them? Bus/cheney lied us into an imperialist, genocidal occupation of Iraq so they could steal Iraqi oil revenues and U.S. tax dollars.

If something isn't done soon to stop these criminals and traitors from driving this country further into the ground, it's going to become a lot more uncivil around here, and not just in newspaper ads.

Posted by: Kevin Schmidt, Sterling VA | September 20, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Long before the report, I said it was all about oil. I also said that if Bush was re-elected oil would reach $100.00 per barrel and $5.00 a gallon at the pump. It's almost there now, but then Bush has over a year left to get it there before he leaves us. Even though Saddam was a bad guy that Reagan and Bush Sr. supported in Saddam's war again Iran,we knew there were no WMDs but Bush went after him anyway because of some alleged threat against his father. Bush is now stuck in the proverbial tar baby like brer rabbit. So it was not ALL about oil, but that does not matter. What concerns me most of all are the lies that led us into the war to begin with, and they are still lying. How can we teach our children not to lie when the President lies? Tell us the truth because the truth will set you free and we can handle the truth. Now either cut off the funds, bring the troops home and watch the blood bath and loss of oil, or bring back the draft and go kick some a--! You don't want to wake the sleeping giant but that is what it may take to fix Bush's misadventures in Iraq. I can envision a much larger protest and public outcry if we had a military draft because everyone would have a stake militarily in the war for oil.

Posted by: Bob Freels | September 20, 2007 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Notice how much of what the Washington Post's Michael Dobbs presumes as background knowledge about this topic betrays nothing more than the U.S. imperial point of view, instead of the ostensible facts.

For example, Points 2 and 3: "Progress." In real terms, what does "progress" mean? That a sufficiently large number of the resistance to the U.S. military occupation has been killed, leading to a more "stable" Iraq?

"Progress" and "stability" for whom?

As always, the more fundamental question isn't whether or not the so-called "surge" is "working," but whether the "surge," the foreign military occupation, and the March 2003 U.S. aggression have any right to "work" in the first place.

By this benchmark, Mr. Dobbs' assessment flunks the Pinocchio Test.

David Peterson
Chicago, USA

Posted by: David Peterson | September 20, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

In case someone has already suggested this I apologize but isn't it obvious that Fact Checker should also assign Pinocchio's to Petraeus' speech as well? It's clear from your remarks that he wouldn't earn a zero AND it would seem fair to find out what you think of Bush's latest messenger. Would he earn more or less that 3?

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | September 20, 2007 3:12 PM | Report abuse

The Fact Checker would have a lot more credibility deconstructing the MoveOn.org ad if had spent the past 6 years inspecting all the Bush whoppers we have been fed.

Posted by: Jim | September 20, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Move On 1,
WaPo 0
Petraeus 0
Bush 0

Posted by: jvf | September 20, 2007 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Bush & Cheney DID get us into an ILLEGAL war,& they have been micro-managing the war as did Lyndon Johnson & Robt. Mac namara in Viet Nam. Petraeus & Westmoreland tried to salvage something out of a cesspool created by politicians. Blaming them is saying tha they should not have followed the orders of corrupt politicians. You can go to jail by doing that.

Posted by: asclepious | September 20, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

This piece is a pathetic, transparent, aggressive, desperate attempt at spin.

The Beltway media loathes MoveOn because they are passionate, unapologetic liberals. That is about the worst thing you can be in D.C. today, from the point of view of the establishment.

This is a hit job, plain and simple. It would be easier to take "the Fact Checker" seriously if you spent time fact-checking General Petraeus himself... or his boss, the Decider/Commander Guy.

Posted by: M | September 20, 2007 3:28 PM | Report abuse

GREAT JOB, fact checker! You know you are doing your job when the extremeists come out of the woodwork and attack you. Yesterday, the right wing maniacs were unhappy: today it is the left wing maniacs who think you are biased..I love this! Hopefully these nutters will one day see the hypocrisy in their tendency to dismiss as completely unworthy, ideas which differ from their own. Hitler was more tolerant!

I look forward to the next installment.

Posted by: emma b. | September 20, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

If you want this blog to be useful, you should at least check those claims which are asserted as facts, rather than obviously rhetorical flourishes. Attempting to parse the latter for their veracity is really an exercise in futility--rhetoric is rhetoric, and evidence is evidence.

Posted by: mcg | September 20, 2007 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I beg you to pull apart one of Bush's or Cheney's recent speeches as you have pulled apart the MoveOn ad.

Posted by: John Wagner | September 20, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Ho-hum.

So the Washington Post's Wise Olde Men attack yet another liberal group, and we're supposed to gasp at the audacity and meanness of ... an ad in a newspaper.

Sorry Dobbs, but you work for a right wing paper that has no credibility, given its refusal to fact check actual important stuff.

DC is a waste-hole of conservative myopia, so I expect nothing more from the "official" purveyor of Beltway Republican garbage. You should visit America some time - the attitude outside the beltway would likely make you very, very uncomfortable with your assumptions and biases.

Posted by: mateosf | September 20, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

I notice you totally gloss over the fact that Petraeus' op/ed, which supported Bush's consisently and absurdly optimistic distortions of his war, appeared two months before the election.

Who fact-checks you?

Posted by: Jim | September 20, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

The "surge strategy" was announced as a way to "find breathing room for a political solution" to grow.

This strategy is by all measures a complete failure. There is no decrease in sectarian affiliation and all signs point to a three state partition.

Regarding ethnically cleansed neighborhoods and the reduction in violence. General Jones, in his report a week BEFORE Gen Petraeus shows the maps of casualties with the current ethnic makeup of the neighborhoods. Petraeus showed the location of violent attacks, but USED THE OLD ETHNIC MAKEUP. In Jone's map it is clear the the much ballyhooed reduction in Baghdad violence is principally due to the segregation into distinct 'tribal' areas.

Link here: http://matthewyglesias.theatlantic.com/archives/2007/09/a_tale_of_two_mapes.php

Did Petraeus "forget" to use good graphics or did he "mislead for the good of the mission"?

Rating 3 and a half brown-nosed Pinocchios for you.

Posted by: fact | September 20, 2007 4:05 PM | Report abuse

The General is not in Iraq for the purpose of running for political office and there are obviously operational matters, that were they disclosed, would be highly beneficial to America's adversaries around the world.

Thus the General is doing exactly what he is suppose to be doing, namely, saving American lives in Iraq and around the world.

GREAT JOB !!!

Posted by: brucerealtor | September 20, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Reading the ad and your analysis, I don't see how you come up with "3 pinocchios." From your own analysis I do not get the impression that there were "significant" errors in the ad's claims. Certainly, there were some that were interpretable.

I hope you do a better job of rating. For example, what is your measure for a "Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions."? Is it quantitative or qualitative? If qualitative, who's deciding? The two of you or an independent party? Also, "significant" has a specific meaning in statistical analysis which is how you're trying to make your rating system sound. You need to be more up front and honest with your system.

Until then, I'll assume each of your "fact" articles has a +/- 2 pinocchios bias (which means your ratings don't amount to squat).

Posted by: squashua | September 20, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Fact Checker. Good idea badly executed. I would like to see it on TV, preferable with a foreigner as a host who does not give a hoot about political correctness and ask the tough questions. Challenge the guest to prove his claims and face him with real facts. The final resolve will be either the host or the guest admitting and apologizing for erroneous and misleading statements, etc, etc.

Posted by: Jethro | September 20, 2007 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Did not! Did Too! yo mama! Nyah, nyah. THblfft!


(Real useful, kids)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Wow. This fact-checker needs a reality check. But what do you want from the newspaper that has facilitated the lies that have sustained this war from its conception to the present. SHAM ALERT

Posted by: B2O | September 20, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Great idea, for what it's worth. But just where the heck was the Fact Checker when we needed it most -- back during the Bush Administration's propaganda buildup to the war itself. That onslaught of lies, exaggerations and half-truths would have rated enough Pinocchios to fill a stage, but you guys slept right through it.
Talk about closing the barn door too late.

Posted by: Dan | September 20, 2007 4:39 PM | Report abuse

"Hi. I'd like to request a fact check on Bush's latest speech about his war. Thanks in advance."

Ha ha ha. Dream on, Binky. If the Post had ANY intention of auditing this president's outrageous lies they would have injected some reality into their coverage of his "Saddam-9/11" association campaign, his mischaracterization of the insurgency as being comprised primarily of the terrorist organization that attacked us (they're not, at all), or any of the countless WMD exaggerations. That they sat mum on these stories and dutifully shoved these lies down their readers' throats should have disabused you of such illusions long ago.

My advice is to stop confusing this rag for independent journalism and see it for what it is: a fancy-looking blotter for the official administration line on the issues of the day.

Posted by: B2O | September 20, 2007 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Kevrobb, I've also noted that they have sizable advertising accounts with several of the large oil conglomerates. This perhaps explains their inviting a gossip columnist and self-professed "math moron" to do a guest editorial on how global climate change is nothing to worry our pretty little heads about. I wonder who they think they're fooling these days?

Posted by: Re. the Grumman, Lockheed Martin ads | September 20, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

So the fact checker starts with something that can't even be shown to be a fact one way or the other. Good way to go WP, you god damned idiots.

What a crock of sheit.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the call of the blissfully uninformed war supporter. Aren't they cute? And Mr. Bush is working for you and me, not the oil companies, too! Whatever Faux tells me.

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article2956422.ece

President Petraeus? Iraqi official recalls the day US general revealed ambition

By Patrick Cockburn

Published: 13 September 2007

The US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, expressed long-term interest in running for the US presidency when he was stationed in Baghdad, according to a senior Iraqi official who knew him at that time.

Sabah Khadim, then a senior adviser at Iraq's Interior Ministry, says General Petraeus discussed with him his ambition when the general was head of training and recruitment of the Iraqi army in 2004-05.

"I asked him if he was planning to run in 2008 and he said, 'No, that would be too soon'," Mr Khadim, who now lives in London, said.

Posted by: Gen. Betrayus not "running for political office"? | September 20, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Now, of course, you have to do Bush. That's the big elephant in the room. Our president's own cognitive and ethical challenges and their consequences for human life.

Posted by: Laura | September 20, 2007 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I give the Washington Post four Pinocchios.

Posted by: artmann11 | September 20, 2007 5:06 PM | Report abuse

I still don't grasp the "Betray Us" reference. Betray whom? The people at MoveOn.org? Because they sure don't line up with all of us out here in the real world.

Sadly, the Democratic counter-spin has already wound itself up: the reaction to the ad is just faked by Republicans who aren't really offended, but just saw a nice opportunity to punch back.

Uh, no. We've been putting up with the defeatist crap shoveled by MoveOn.org and its appeasement sympathizers for years now. They'd have cured cancer by now if they'd put all the energy into scientific research that they do pointlessly whaling on the very country they claim to "love" and "just want to see returned to its roots." Give me a break.

Posted by: Captain Morgan | September 20, 2007 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone remember the generals who spoke out against the current administration policy on Iraq? Didn't rightwingers call them traitors?

Posted by: artmann11 | September 20, 2007 5:21 PM | Report abuse

We are tired of this topic.

Posted by: glasnost | September 20, 2007 5:40 PM | Report abuse

The childish and simplistic notion that ANY General would go infront of Congress without getting the top brass at the Pentagon, and Joint Cheifs, ultamatekly the White House (Commander in Cheif and Decider Guy) is moronic at best. The Post's assumption in this "fact check" is way off base, and maybe they shoudl "fact check" themselves first. Look in the mirror. I for one have just made another donation to free speach and Move On. That's a fact!

Posted by: Major Combat | September 20, 2007 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Where are the fact checks on ANY/ALL of Bush's speeches? Why aren't those fact check headlines on the front page?

Posted by: New Boston Yankee | September 20, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

A man who had neither the insight nor courage or perspicacity to see that the Swift Boat Liars lied is not a man fit to be a fact checker. Oh I know you will say that you were fair to both sides. That is a dodge and a deceit. The truth requires the truth not even handed blurring of the facts.

You will make Mr. Hiatt of the Post editorial page proud because he and you have been busy covering your asses for having been wrong for so long on the Iraq war and refusing to admit how wrong they were.

You are the media establishment covering your own tails .....Shame on you!!!

I award you 5 Pinocchios and 10 Brownnoses.

Posted by: debcoop | September 20, 2007 5:51 PM | Report abuse

"said Zinni, a Marine for 39 years and the former commander of the U.S. Central Command. "Anyone could know the problems they were going to see. How could they not?"

"Two senior military officers are known to have challenged Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on the planning of the Iraq war. Army General Eric Shinseki publicly dissented and found himself marginalized. Marine Lieut. General Greg Newbold, the Pentagon's top operations officer, voiced his objections internally and then retired, in part out of opposition to the war."

I thought Bush listened to his Generals on the Grouund?
Cherry Pickingis Cherry Picking...and THAT'S A FACT!

Posted by: Major Combat | September 20, 2007 5:56 PM | Report abuse

It is an inevitable conclusion that the Washington Post should take you off this beat immediately. You have disgraced the truth and journalism. You are an apologist for George Bush and Fred Hiatt. You are covering up.

You fall back on the meanigless rote statemnt that they have not proved it to the nth degree. Your standards of decision are designed to come up the cover up conclusions you came up with.

I have never been angrier with a journalist before. They make mistakes, you are engaging in a deliberate game to smear.

Remember that after his "honorable" testimony, the American people did not believe him because they know he's a messenger for the White House. 2/3rds of the American people don't agree with you or your distortion of the data.

Look down. Your pants are on fire.

Resign. Now. Go write another book.

Posted by: debcoop | September 20, 2007 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Heckova Job Brownie!

Posted by: Major Combat | September 20, 2007 6:08 PM | Report abuse

"Army Lt. Gen. William Odom, a Vietnam veteran, said the invasion of Iraq alienated America's Middle East allies, making it harder to prosecute a war against terrorists.

"We have no idea what we will need until we get there on the ground," Mr. Wolfowitz said at a hearing of the House Budget Committee. "Every time we get a briefing on the war plan, it immediately goes down six different branches to see what the scenarios look like. If we costed each and every one, the costs would range from $10 billion to $100 billion." Mr. Wolfowitz's refusal to be pinned down on the costs of war and peace in Iraq infuriated some committee Democrats, who noted that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., the budget director, had briefed President Bush on just such estimates on Tuesday.

Posted by: theTruthShallSetYouFree | September 20, 2007 6:10 PM | Report abuse

3 Post-Farts!
Phssshtt!...Phssshtt!...Psshtt!
Just like you, Dobbs, I just couldn't hold in my three Post fart-facts as I walked by your WC(P) on 16th Street.
:0:0:0!!!

Posted by: P Meter Man | September 20, 2007 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Bush and his cronies at the Washington Post are attacking Move.On because they know the next step is

BUSH BETRAYED US

Bush and Cheney should be IMPEACHED for lying America into a war of choice for profit.

Where in the Washington Post is the ORB study that found over

ONE MILLION IRAQUIS murdered because of the war YOU supported!?

http://www.opinion.co.uk/Newsroom_details.aspx?NewsId=78

"In the week in which General Patraeus reports back to US Congress on the impact the recent 'surge' is having in Iraq, a new poll reveals that more than 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have been murdered since the invasion took place in 2003."

Posted by: colleen | September 20, 2007 6:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm not pleased with your analysis. Petraeus is the most political general since MacArthur- not just because of his Op-Ed (you avoided comment about its timing during the Presidential election of 2004) but also for his appearances on very political shows like the Hugh Hewitt show. If you want to rate the ad badly, that's your privilege- how about rating some of the claims made by warmongers like McCain and Hunter?

I say compare the Petraeus report with the McClatchy report on Iraq. McClatchy are not political ideologues. I believe that their analysis is much superior to yours. I'm sure that Petraeus is a smart man and has a good side. When he says keep the surge going, he is saying it's OK for a few hundred more US service personnel and many thousands of Iraqis to die, because "my theories may pan out sometimes in the distant future". What would Jesus or Socrates say about one who orders others to keep on bombing and killing?

Posted by: Bob Snodgrass | September 20, 2007 7:13 PM | Report abuse

Is it good news judgment to begin fact-checking the Iraq war with a MoveOn.org advertisement versus Petraeus, Bush or Reid?

How is MoveOn.org really relevant compared to the decision-makers?

Are you looking for most website hits or news quality?

The editorial decision to begin an examination of Iraq War facts with a focus on MoveOn.org was poor-- the Washington Post should have higher standards than sensationalism-- MoveOn.org is not a serious participant in this debate.

Posted by: Jim | September 20, 2007 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us.

Go ahead, corporate media wh0res. Say "Betray Us," over and over, thinking you're slamming MoveOn. All you are doing is catapulting the propaganda. The more you repeat "Betray Us," the more deeply entrenched that theme becomes in the public mind. It just gets more devastating with every repetition. MoveOn should be congratulated for a triumph of framing.


Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us. Betray Us.

Posted by: Xeno | September 20, 2007 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Claiming that this blog posting has anything to do with "fact checking" is laughable.

The only fact that actually can be disputed to some extent is the following:

Moveon.org: Most importantly, General Petraeus will not admit what everyone knows; Iraq is mired in an unwinnable religious civil war.

Commenter: The Iraq war may or may not be winnable. But it is incorrect to claim that "everyone knows" it is "unwinnable."

To make the statement factually accurate, only a minor rewording is necessary:

"Most importantly, General Petraeus will not admit what everyone knows who is informed on the subject and is not sufffering from a severe mental impairment; Iraq is mired in an unwinnable religious civil war."

Every reporter, pundit, and editor at the Washington Post is perfectly aware of the fact that the Bush regime has lost its unwinnable war in Iraq. Yet, the Post dishonestly pretends that fraudulent claims by corporate propagandists are of comparable value to actual facts.

Even worse, General Betray Us was perfectly aware of that fact. He was deliberately lying in his testimony just as he lied in his 2004 op-ed piece. The Washington Post, including its alleged "fact checker," has refused to acknowledge the fact that Betray Us has lied to the troops and to the American people repeated in order to advance his career interests.

The Post's refusal to report the fact that Betray Us is constantly lying shows the fanatical rightist bias of that publication, a bias that is all too typical of the corporate media.

Why should liberals, moderates, and anyone else with an IQ over 60 purchase a newspaper that constantly insults our intelligence with a steady stream of GOP spin and outright lies?

Posted by: Tom | September 20, 2007 7:28 PM | Report abuse

I, too, think the ad was very effective.

Posted by: Maddie In Florida | September 20, 2007 7:32 PM | Report abuse

The ad was superb.
On target.
Factual.
Spoke truth to power.

Thanks!! Moveon.
Give 'em another shot!

Posted by: George (not the w) | September 20, 2007 7:39 PM | Report abuse

What a crock of horse manure.Did you even read your own rules.Apply them to this Moveon.org ad and it comes up Moveon zero General Betray us three pinocheos remember you buffoons opinion don't count only when applied to Moveon.org.God what a right wing rag this paper has become.

Posted by: jkstuarts | September 20, 2007 7:41 PM | Report abuse

If the press applied this level of scrutiny in the run-up to the Iraq Invasion, we likely would not be in this mess.

So WaPo, are you now going to apply this same scrutiny to Bush's State of the Union address? If not, why not?

You've just set a new standard, let's see how long it stands.

Posted by: Mark Gutting-Kilzer | September 20, 2007 7:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm hoping "The Fact Checker" go back and look at some of Fred Hiatt's editorials circa 2002 and 2003, back when the Post editorial page was an enthusiastic cheerleader for Bush's stupid war.

Posted by: John Brisker | September 20, 2007 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Did anyone else notice that the "progress" that has been claimed is not what we were promised but a new "benchmark" that is not part of the 18 that the 'surge' was meant to accomplish?

Not checking the right facts, maam.

Posted by: benjcrawley | September 20, 2007 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Did General P betray "us"? No. His oath as an officer requires him to obey his superiors -- in this case George Bush.

The General is no fool. He has studied military history. Generals who openly disagree with the CIC end up as fired generals. McCellan and MacArthur for examples. Bush himself has fired generals who disagreed with him. General P knew what Bush wanted - a rosy scenario.

Just by phrasing the questions you can use statistics to "prove" anything you want them to. Ask any good salesman. Ask any drug maker trying to justify their new product.

Really good lawyers can build great arguments for either side of a case -- it all depends upon who is paying. Really good generals can do the same.

Posted by: William | September 20, 2007 8:10 PM | Report abuse

I'd be interested to see the "Fact Check" of the general's congressional testimony. I expect a similar level of assertion from our intrepid reporter, no? Truth to power and all that.

Posted by: david | September 20, 2007 8:10 PM | Report abuse

MoveOn was irrelevant because Petreaus is irrelevant ..
the problem is in the executive branch that gives orders to the military.
W

Posted by: GeorgeW | September 20, 2007 8:23 PM | Report abuse

"Lies are truth!" "War is Peace!" "Love is hate!" "General Betray Us?" What would you expect from, MoveOn.org, a decidedly Marxist organization dedicated to the overthrow of "capitalism" and free markets.

Posted by: Sam | September 20, 2007 8:28 PM | Report abuse

From your mission statement:
"Comment is free, but facts are sacred." -- C.P. Scott, editor Manchester Guardian, 1921

Our goal is to shed as much light as possible on controversial claims and counter-claims involving important national issues and the records of the various presidential candidates."

In my view, you pathetically fail to do so in your so-called analysis of the Move-on Patraeus ad. Citing the Right and then the Left, shrugging and saying the answers are still out is NOT fact checking. You are parsing adjectives and verbs, not facts.

Posted by: Peter S. | September 20, 2007 8:28 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like the add was essentially correct, with only some rhetorical exaggeration (does anyone believe that 'everyone' knows something? Why mark off for that?).

One and a half stars tops. I think your criteria could be much sharper.

Posted by: Rocky | September 20, 2007 8:29 PM | Report abuse

The ad read: GENERAL PETRAEUS OR GENERAL BETRAY US? Ignoring the question mark, as has been done by the ad's critics, ignores the fact that the ad was run before Petraeus's testmony. The question mark indicated the alternate routes that he could take in his testimony, rather than an accusation that he is or would become a traitor.

Posted by: Michael | September 20, 2007 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Hey WaPo Fact Checker re: your credibility and your liability

You broke it, you own it

Posted by: SteveK | September 20, 2007 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Beep! Fact-checker failed to check his own facts. 5 Pinocchios for the Washington Post. Go beyond the Republican spin, friends, please! Quit leaping into their frame with some hard thinking and investigative work. An underwear-clad blogger on a Republican fundraiser bender/hangover could have done more fact checking than Mr. Dobbs.

Posted by: Lawrence Buhler | September 20, 2007 8:33 PM | Report abuse

This is absolute garbage! This article claims that we cannot know whether or not the war is "winnable"? Give me a break!

How in the world can this paper suggest that denying that the war can be won is subject to "fact checking."

Make this the first and last attempt at WAPO "fact checking." This is a complete joke and a sham.

Posted by: Sean | September 20, 2007 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Hey fact checker, where were you in late 2002-early 2003, when we really needed you?

Posted by: Hans | September 20, 2007 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Looks more like "Truthiness"(TM)than the truth.

Posted by: Kenny Boy | September 20, 2007 8:55 PM | Report abuse

The biggest Pinochio is the Washington Post editorial board, specially Bob Woodwards.

Posted by: gus vidal | September 20, 2007 8:57 PM | Report abuse

The Iraq war may or may not be winnable. But it is incorrect to claim that "everyone knows" it is "unwinnable."

OK, let's rephrase that: Everyone with a functioning central nervous system knows it's unwinnable.

(Or anyone old enough to remember McNamara's little lesson in statistics -- 15 years + 58,000 dead American kids + millions of dead Vietnamese = oops, sorry about that.)

Posted by: Hans | September 20, 2007 9:01 PM | Report abuse

Every American ought to join MoveOn.org! Why? Uhh, how about, Pres Bush and V.P Cheney; Blackwater, INC; 2180,000 missing weapons in Iraq; 120,000 to 600,000 dead Iraqi civilians; $12,000,000,000 LOST by the Defense Dept in Iraq! "Just the facts, please, WaPost!"

Posted by: Frederick | September 20, 2007 9:04 PM | Report abuse

Fact correction to the above post!: 180,000 missing weapons in Iraq. Dear fact checker, WHERE did ALL of these weapons go?

Posted by: Frederick | September 20, 2007 9:07 PM | Report abuse

SEVEN Pinocchios for the Washington Post and the "Fact Checker"; one for targeting MoveOn and not a more deserving target such as the Heritage Foundation or President Bush;
One Pinocchio for playing along with the Republican agenda and diverting everyone's attention from the failures of the Iraq war;
One Pinocchio for subjecting MoveOn to a greater level of scrutiny than is directed at Washington Post reporters; and

FOUR Pinocchios for failing to acknowledge the real reasons why the Fact Checker was created: to make up for the lack of fact checking in the Washington Post that has been enjoyed for 7 years by the Bush Administration.

Posted by: Tony Lopez | September 20, 2007 9:15 PM | Report abuse

If the Washington Post, etc. had done better fact checking and finding before this war, we would not be in it. I give the Post a few hundred Pinocchios of their own.

Posted by: Mary | September 20, 2007 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Wow! Great stuff! And how very, very con-v-e-e-e-n-i-e-n-t that your fact checking DIDN'T happen in 2000, when you guys were too busy Goring Gore, in 2002, when you guys fell for the WMDs disinformation like a ton of bricks, or 2004, when you guys were too busy helping out the Swift Boaters. But suddenly a Democratic organization gets some clout, and you're all over 'em like a cheap suit. The bias is just too, too transparent. I'll wait for TPM, see what they say. You guys have no credibility at all.

Posted by: lambert strether | September 20, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Beware of GAO reporting. According to yesterdays news, the yahoo running the show is under investigation from Congress for "cooking the investigative reporting books" and not filling 20, I think, high level postitions with in the department.

How can we Americans believe anything that is coming out of any politicians mouth. I've had it with all of them.

Posted by: FatBoy | September 20, 2007 9:50 PM | Report abuse

Where was your fact-checking when Kerry was being swift-boated?

Posted by: Ellie | September 20, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Petreus relied on squishy, highly subjective information that cannot be specifically refuted. That left MoveOn and the FactChecker in the unenviable position of committing the same fault because there is no accurate and objective way of analyzing highly subjective information. If you could call it 'information'. It was more like a vague, sunny look to the past with an even vaguer projection of the future. MoveOn did the best it could with our limited understanding of the facts (How many Iraqi dead, really?) Fact Checker should have said so. Three Pinocchios.

Posted by: jlk | September 20, 2007 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Amen to most of this. What a waste of time. As the fact checker correctly points out, the MoveOn ad was mostly opinion, and pretty thin on the facts. So... why fact-check it? Hard to believe somebody's getting paid for this stuff.

Posted by: frededias | September 20, 2007 9:57 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Joke swears they hit a homerun with this silly "fact-checking". The Washington Joke says that Moveon is "pinochio" for saying General Petraeus becamse "General Petraeus", as if an opinion can be said to be true or false.

I give this fact-checking an F grade.

Posted by: Andrew | September 20, 2007 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Fact-check:
Did the Washington Post weep for perjurer Scooter Libby, saying that he should not receive jail time?

Yes.

Posted by: Andrew | September 20, 2007 10:02 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Post called Moveon Pinoccio, but did not call Libby the same.

Interesting.

Posted by: Andrew | September 20, 2007 10:04 PM | Report abuse

Yeah..

http://factcheck.org

For, like, actually checking facts.

Posted by: roo | September 20, 2007 10:04 PM | Report abuse

More on the Washington Post:
On September 12th, Howard Kurtz, instead of fact-checking Fox News for being liars and misinformers, says that Fox has the right to misinform.
http://mediamatters.org/items/200709130004?f=h_top

Posted by: Andrew | September 20, 2007 10:09 PM | Report abuse

You Guys have yor heads up your ass. Face reality.

Posted by: J. Louis Hunter | September 20, 2007 10:13 PM | Report abuse

if the post had fact checked another general ....colin powell after he lied or was duped into lies about wmds to the united nations and the world would the post have uncovered the truth anymore than the truth about this general's obedience to the commander in chief?

Posted by: dr no | September 20, 2007 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Hey "fact checker," you might want to take put on some knee pads before you start servicing your Republican talking points.

Posted by: Wow | September 20, 2007 10:18 PM | Report abuse

General Petraus was very loyal to the official line coming from the Bush Whitehouse

But time and again the neocons win on the soundbites. I am glad that now there is some reading what was inside the the moveon ad

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 10:19 PM | Report abuse

wow!! this is great! I feel like the light is finally starting to shine through - thanks to the courage of moveon...their gutsy move on the truth was sorely needed...somehow the right seems to think that the military cannot and should not be criticized...they must have forgotten what free speech in a democracy is all about. as for the fudgy and biased 'fact checkers'....they don't stand up very well as the arbiters of fact and truth, do they? I bet they actually think people cannot see through them. shameful.

Posted by: ogdeeds | September 20, 2007 10:20 PM | Report abuse

The only fact that is important to me is the fact that the fundamental reasons given for this war change with the wind.. They were grossly misinformed judgments at best or lies at worse, deliberately fed to us to support a war they thought would be quick and easy and make them national heroes and establish one party rule in this country.

Bush Co is the real betrayer..betrayer of our confidence and our nation.

The real FACT is that if the Democrats had done what Bush has done the Republicans/ Conservatives would be in full impeachment mode.

Posted by: VietnamEraVet | September 20, 2007 10:29 PM | Report abuse

You provide your rating scale as:

1)Some shading of the facts. Selective telling of the truth. Some omissions ... no outright falsehoods.

2) Significant omissions and/or exaggerations. Some factual error may be involved but not necessarily.

3) Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions

How does the statement that "MoveOn.org does not provide adequate factual support for its larger assertion that Petraeus is 'constantly at war with the facts' and is cooking the books' for the White House" serve as proof of significant factual error?

Your assessment of the MoveOn Ad and ensuing rating of 3 pinocchios are ripe with faulty logic. Not good for a Fact Checker! What information used by MoveOn to compile the ad did you analyze? Just the ad? It seems you used multiple documents to assess Petraeus' statements. Very disappointed.

Posted by: Disgusted in Colorado | September 20, 2007 10:30 PM | Report abuse

Debate worthy of a kindergarten. MoveOn should. Wow, like General Betray Us, kewl. That General has been to see the monkey show, and 99.9 % of the civilian pukebags raving about Bush haven't. MoveOn to the Netherlands and light up. Geez. And, yes, I want us out of Iraq.

Posted by: 18 or over | September 20, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

A hot tip for the WaPo, if it ever chooses to rejoin the reality based community.

A useful (and lucrative) feature might be an actual fact checking of all of Charles Krauthammer's columns for the past six years. That is a pure goldmine.

Posted by: HeavyJ | September 20, 2007 10:36 PM | Report abuse

What, the Post couldn't have done this when Kerry was "Swift-boated"? when McCain was "blackballed" (figuratively)?
Regardless of the ad's slightly wrong/passionately written statements, why aren't you pulling back the curtain on the boatloads of fear and black buckets of fear that this Republican administration has us swimming in?

Posted by: Paul Kirk | September 20, 2007 10:36 PM | Report abuse

wow. the crazies are out in full swing. just read thru this stuff - all of u who commented - do you realize how crazy you sound?
No wonder America is going down the tubes...

Posted by: ohmygoodness | September 20, 2007 10:45 PM | Report abuse

General Betray-Us or Petreaus report was in accordance to what White House wants him to say. That's part of being pinned his Fourth Star on his shoulder. It's just too bad that a good soldier will be demean by getting his Fourth Star. He was used by the Bush, Cheney White House to perpetrate their war profiteering ways.

Petreaus does not speak for every soldier and marines in the military. I find him disgraceful for accepting the fourth star and compromise his being a good soldier's soldier. He is a puppet and deserves his name General Betray-Us.

Posted by: marc | September 20, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

What a great new feature to focus on all the media lies and half truths...unfortunately this "fact" checking feature is about six years too late for thousand who lost their lives in a needless war sold to us by the press in part to boost news ratings and sell newspapers. At least Moveon is trying set the record straight since the corporate media has no interest in doing so.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 10:55 PM | Report abuse

What happens when the "truth squadders" have unexpressed biases? Who truth squads them? Let me take a shot:

"While some of the facts and statistics cited by General Petraeus can legitimately be questioned and debated..."

First, views can be debated, facts are facts. So far as I know, no one had claimed General Petraeus went so far as to make things up -- the claim, which seems to me to have been borne out by every independent assessment, is that he "cherry-picked" facts and statistics, giving a far rosier view of the situation in Iraq than can be warranted by any reasonably objective look at the facts. Instead of truth squadding the ad, why don't you start by truth squadding the report? There's a hell of a lot more information to go on -- and interestingly, only the administration's claims paint a glass-half full, while all the independent assessments paint a glass more than three quarters empty.

What General Petraeus was engaged in has a name: it's called Spin, and it is by definition a method of waging war with the facts and with the truth. You, among others, seem to have fallen for it -- anything asserted by the administration or by General Petraeus can "legitimately be questioned and debated" but, according to YOUR bias, it can't be called what it is: purposeful muddying of the waters, deception, misleading, etc.

"With hindsight, Petraeus was overly optimistic in his 2004 assessment."

With whose hindsight? Yours? Many of us did not need to someday use hindsight to reach this "overly optimistic" assessment because we were able to make that and more damning judgements at the time. Why? Because we did not fall for the spin then any more than we are ready to now. If you did fall for it, maybe you need a course in spin resistance (sometimes called "thinking independently", i.e. the opposite of "group think".)

"A claim of "tangible progress" was not totally unreasonable in 2004."

I strongly disagree. If you are going to make that claim, you need to back it up at least as well as the MoveOn ad backed up its statements, citing reliable press reports to that effect. Unless you mean by "not totally" "not impossible to believe for the gullible", in which case it should be more clearly stated.

"Again the question is how much progress?"

Whose question? That is not my question, so it must be yours. But it is yours because that is exactly the distracting question the administration had in mind for you. Again, independent assessments show the "surge" strategy, forget the war itself for a moment, has failed on the very benchmarks the administration albeit reluctantly agreed to. And the question is, progress toward what? A longer quagmire in an unwinnable war? It's nice for the administration to be able to change war aims with the seasons, with a tame press that always lets them set the terms of discussion. At the moment, they've changed them so many times, and failed to achieve them so many times, I don't really even know what they are anymore, and I read the papers every day.

"Every independent report on the ground situation in Iraq shows that the surge strategy has failed."
This is as inaccurate as are bald claims, by Sen. John McCain and others, that the surge "is working." Independent reports show that the results have been mixed."

Your assessment is "as inaccurate as are bald claims" that because every last piece of ice on the earth hasn't yet melted we aren't experiencing global warming. If you'll take a few minutes to read a few articles from your own newspaper about what the administration claimed the surge would do when it started (not what they're claiming now, after it failed) you would have to say that on the administration's own terms, "the surge strategy has failed." Of course, they don't want you to go there, they want you to assess "how much progress" has been made, even if the only truthful answer is "very little" because it sounds so much better than "failed".

"Independent monitors such as Iraq Body Count agree that there probably has been some reduction in violence from the last few months of 2006, when it reached a peak."

Violence in Iraq has always been lower in the summer months, so what is this meaningless statement supposed to prove?

"Charts provided by Petraeus show a thirty per cent decline in Iraqi civilian deaths from the summer of 2006 (June, July, August) to the summer of 2007. It is difficult to reconcile this reported decline with an August 25 Associated Press report that war-related deaths in Iraq have nearly doubled over the last year, from an average daily toll of 2006 of 33 to 62 so far this year."

This is not as hard to reconcile as you make out. I've read numerous press reports that what General Petraeus is referring to are only civilian deaths that his organization has determined to be due to the "civil conflict" not merely "criminal". The proper question here is are both sets of numbers counted the same way -- i.e. were the 2006 number arrived at using exactly the same criteria as the 2007 numbers? I can give you a very educated guess that they were not. But if you have time to truth squad the General's misleading report to Congress, feel free to call him up and ask him!

"Petraeus did not dispute a New York Times report that 35,000 Iraqis have left their homes in Baghdad as part of ethnic cleansing."

Hard to dispute hard facts, isn't it?

"The Iraq war may or may not be winnable. But it is incorrect to claim that "everyone knows" it is "unwinnable.""

This statement cannot be argued with -- MoveOn, in order to evade your well-honed truth squad radar, should have inserted the words "with any sense" between "everyone" and "knows"

I give this lame attempt at truth squadding "5 waffles" for following the "HE SAID, SHE SAID" school of journalism and believing that anything a government official "asserts" deserves to be "legitimately debated" even when it is merely truth-free spin.

Posted by: Richard Corcoran | September 20, 2007 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Fact checker--a long overdue concept.

Quality of fact checker--Tom H. said it best in the 20th posting at 12:18. IMO, the fact checker was not objective and did not pass basic journalistic muster. But with some work and "rules" it can do so in the future.

Timing of choosing the move on ad as the first fact checker--highly suspect. So, WaPo, quiet down the critics by actually fact checking our leaders.

I've spent the last few hours researching the ad, what move on had to say about it, its sources, what the WaPo had to say about it. And when you get past all the rhetoric, partisanship and baloney, there are two statements that I want fact checked. Now is the WaPo going to be our watch dog and do the checking, or are you going to lose all credibility? Be an investigative newspaper!

The statements are:

1) From Move On.org's site speaking of Petreaus "His outfit joined daily conference calls with the White House and former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie this summer to "map out ways of selling the surge."" Bush has been giving the impression that he's getting his info and many of his opinions from Petreaus and we the people were supposed to wait on this report and its findings. If indeed the report, even if it was Petreaus's opinion, was influenced by DAILY contact with the White House that OBVIOUSLY wanted to report to say certain things THEN I WANT TO KNOW THAT FACT. An investigative piece on those daily contacts is way over due!

2) On this blog, a statement was made that " It would be important to this topic to mention the the Gen. Betray-us name was penned by troops who served under him, and not by MoveOn."

Proving the veracity of this statement would go a long way in solidifying my opinion. If the troops don't trust the man, why should I?

Throughout most of our history, military leaders were mostly objective and independent of politics, but some major noticeable exceptions have occurred. Who can forget the head counts of Vietnam? I am a patriotice veteran who does believe that political differences shouldn't leave our shores and we should put up a united front while supporting the troops.

But no general can put on a uniform and proverbial wrap themselves in the flag and have me believe him. One of the first signs of incredulity in the population ought to be when a military leaders troops don't trust him.

Dig into Petraeus's character--is he more likely to be motivated by his career or his integrity? 'Cause no Senate resolution is going to make me "un" suspicious of Petraeus's charcter and his message when research shows the the main gist of Move On's ad is correct.

And BTW, Senators, just because Move On attacked a general does not mean that other soldiers feel their integrity has been impugned. That resolution is a waste of time and nothing but political posturing.

Posted by: politically indpendent veteran | September 20, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

I wish you had the Pinoccio test when the was was sold to the America People.

Posted by: TheVillageIdiot | September 20, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Its interesting that the WAPO would choose to fact check a third party advertisement instead of every single person in the Administration. You know, the people who actually control the reins of our Government?

Posted by: Which Facts? | September 20, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

It is ironic that WaPo, such a staunch supporter of the invasion of Iraq and proganda mouthpiece of many GOP falsehoods and distortion, now finds the temerity to exhaustively "dissect" criticism of the failed policies they have done so much to set into motion.

As usual, I lose more respect for what this paper once stood for, for what it once was.

Posted by: Christian in NYC | September 20, 2007 11:07 PM | Report abuse

thats why you have a military guy make the report. No matter how the report goes you get slammed if you say anything against the troop. You are unpatriotic. etc. Move on should have known better than to fall into that trap.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Iraq is the opposite of Watergate for the WAPO. During Watergate, the WAPO helped demolish an entrenched establishment in Nixon who broke the law.

Iraq has demonstrated that the WAPO is now part of the very establishment it helped destroy due to war cheerleading. This paper's credibility has been diminished quite severely in a very short period of time.

Posted by: Iraq is to watergate | September 20, 2007 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Who the hell is the Washington Post to be "fact checking" anyone? Try "fact checking" yourself for a change, beginning with the pathetic trash that you published in support of going to war with Iraq.

Posted by: lydgate | September 20, 2007 11:13 PM | Report abuse

to expect a pseudo liberal newpaper, beholden to special interests, to say anything in support of moveon.org is like expecting the Thames to be flowing with Irish Beer.

So much for the 3 long noses award.

One can safely give the WP many more such awards for stretching the truth since before the Iraq war began!

Posted by: Bengalee Babu | September 20, 2007 11:16 PM | Report abuse

The "fact checker" says that the surge may not have failed? The whole point of the surge - as defined by the administration - was that the surge would provide breathing space for political reconciliation. Every objective analysis has concluded that not only has there been no advaces toward reconciliation, but that the political situation has actually destabilized. But that is almost beside the point. For the "fact checker" to rely "facts" generated by this administration - which has demonstrably falsified the facts over, and over, and over again, is absurd. Whoever wrote this "fact check" is a pathetic disgrace, and should shop his resume to Fox Noise. A debate on a "fact" does not exist simply because some partisan shill continues to deny reality. This was once a respected paper - Katherine Grahm must be rolling in her grave!!!!!

Posted by: Colin Lynch | September 20, 2007 11:16 PM | Report abuse

A very enlightening fact check - and kudos to the Washington Post for openly challenging the veracity of MoveOn's spurious claims. The tone of the add was full of bitter emotion - not at all unlike what we see here in response. There will always be shills who stand for nothing trying to tear down public officials - it's part of the turf, but rarely do we see these shills held to account for their bitter words and liberal interpretation of fact and truth. They took pot shots at a good man and now that it comes back they don't like it one bit. There is no doubt in my mind that many here slamming the Post are members of MoveOn - the bitter emotion which you bring reveals as much. The funny thing about it, is that no matter how much MoveOn kicks and screams and obfuscates and distorts - there isn't a damn thing they can do to stop the war. As such, they are on the radical fringe of the debate. A center that attracts powerless narciscists too bitter with themselves to effect change. And being the bitter narciscits that they are, they see fit to attack the character of a man who represents all those who voluntarily serve their country. As such, they deserve every rebuke that this society is capable of metting out. I stand heartened, very heartened indeed, that the Washington Post has decided to do this and has not gone the way of the NY Times which has slowly turned itself into a Leftist, socialist rag that's not worthy of being read - what a sad fall from the top for what used to be such a fine, objective paper.

Posted by: Eric H. | September 20, 2007 11:24 PM | Report abuse

One thing that is often lost is that Hitler's movement was Leftist. The National SOCIALIST movement was filled with voices similar to what we see here who are attacking the Washington Post's objectivity. And once they seize power, these same Leftists who have mistakingly been labeled as "liberal" will crush all dissenting thought and means of debate, for deep down they hate debate and a counter view. The first stage of the Nazi transformation was overt nastiness in their writings - quite similar to what we see posted here. There is no doubt in my mind that MoveOn is a front organization for Nazi-like sympathizers who wish absolute control of the reins of power and the levers of press so that they can impose their wharped world view upon the body politik. And much as Hitler attacked the Army's generals and replaced them with his brutish thugs, there is no doubt in my mind that if it had the chance, MoveOn would do exactly the same thing. Keep up the good work WPO!!!

Posted by: Egrib | September 20, 2007 11:42 PM | Report abuse

You say:

"A claim of "tangible progress" was not totally unreasonable in 2004. The more important question is whether that progress was sufficient to stabilize Iraq. Obviously, it wasn't."

Not totally unreasonable. Was it completely reasonable? Should Petraeus have been so confident as to publish an op ed piece just before the election, supporting the President? Why don't you address this aspect of the quote?

You say:

Again the question is, how much progress? It seems difficult to dispute that there has been progress in some parts of Iraq, such as Anbar province.

This in response to the ad's questioning of Petraeus' claim of having made progress. But your defense of Petraeus is problematic. To say that progress has been made in some parts is not to address the possibility that OVERALL no progress has been made at all. You have failed to substantiate your criticism of MoveOn.

You say:

The Iraq war may or may not be winnable. But it is incorrect to claim that "everyone knows" it is "unwinnable."

Is this the sort of fact-checking that you are doing? This is obviously a manner of speaking, and was not meant as a cold hard fact.

Please try to be more reflective; think about your points before you (attempt) a rigorous critique. Your sloppiness undermines whatever legitimate point you might want to make.

Posted by: Abe | September 20, 2007 11:43 PM | Report abuse

Fact Checker??? This column is nothing but establishment spin, treating readers as if they are morons. Is it written by Fox News?

A claim of "tangible progress" was not totally unreasonable in 2004??? It was preposterous to anyone with an internet connection who knew how to use google. Here is a quote from a Sidney Blumenthall article in the Guardian dated Sept 17, 2004:

"Most senior US military officers now believe the war on Iraq has turned into a disaster on an unprecedented scale.

'Bring them on!" President Bush challenged the early Iraqi insurgency in July of last year. Since then, 812 American soldiers have been killed and 6,290 wounded, according to the Pentagon. Almost every day, in campaign speeches, Bush speaks with bravado about how he is "winning" in Iraq. "Our strategy is succeeding," he boasted to the National Guard convention on Tuesday.

But, according to the US military's leading strategists and prominent retired generals, Bush's war is already lost."

Almost every other WaPo "fact" can be as easily debunked.

WaPo's fact checker is a ridiculous shill.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2007 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Fact Checker??? This column is nothing but establishment spin, treating readers as if they are morons. Is it written by Fox News?

A claim of "tangible progress" was not totally unreasonable in 2004??? It was preposterous to anyone with an internet connection who knew how to use google. Here is a quote from a Sidney Blumenthall article in the Guardian dated Sept 17, 2004:

"Most senior US military officers now believe the war on Iraq has turned into a disaster on an unprecedented scale.

'Bring them on!" President Bush challenged the early Iraqi insurgency in July of last year. Since then, 812 American soldiers have been killed and 6,290 wounded, according to the Pentagon. Almost every day, in campaign speeches, Bush speaks with bravado about how he is "winning" in Iraq. "Our strategy is succeeding," he boasted to the National Guard convention on Tuesday.

But, according to the US military's leading strategists and prominent retired generals, Bush's war is already lost."

Almost every other WaPo "fact" can be as easily debunked.

WaPo's fact checker is a ridiculous shill.

Posted by: boogster | September 20, 2007 11:46 PM | Report abuse

WaPo fact checker seems to operating on the 'BIG LIE" theory. A claim of "tangible progress" was not totally unreasonable in 2004??? Do they take the reader for complete morons, incapable of remember what was happening 3 years ago?

Just about every statement about facts "checked" amounts to spin and wing nut delusional propaganda.


From September 17, 2004 post and article by William Greider:

Iraq. A quagmire. A nightmare. A bloodbath. No end in sight.

-" The National Intelligence Council presented President Bush (news - web sites) this summer with three pessimistic scenarios regarding the security situation in Iraq (news - web sites), including the possibility of a civil war there before the end of 2005.

It is the first formal assessment of Iraq since the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on the threat posed by fallen Iraqi President Saddam Hussein (news - web sites). "

Posted by: boogster | September 20, 2007 11:54 PM | Report abuse

Every independent report on the ground situation in Iraq shows that the surge strategy has failed.
This is as inaccurate as are bald claims, by Sen. John McCain and others, that the surge "is working."

This is spin supporting the delusional framework. And more the "big lie" approach to propaganda. The so-called surge has been an unmitigated disaster by any reasonable evaluation. Comparing statements of fact with McCain's delusions is a propaganda technique, not a good faith examination of fact.

The WaPo treats its readers like they are idiots. It turns out the readers are a lot smarter than the propagandists at WaPo.

Posted by: boogster | September 20, 2007 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Lets see if this shill, who just happened to appear AFTER the weeklong testimony on the most important subject of the decade, makes one wonder about the entire point of this. Lets have the shill check this: did or did not Admiral Fallon, the Generals's boss in CENTOM, referred to him as "a little chicken****" for the great General's machinations and politiking--this in their first meeting?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 21, 2007 12:01 AM | Report abuse

This is an extension of Fox News. "Fair and balanced = fact checking" For the gullible. A sleazy propaganda technique. Treat the reader like a moron. Label it "fact checking" and deliver wing nut spin. Pretty offensive for the WaPo to stoop this far.

Posted by: boogster | September 21, 2007 12:07 AM | Report abuse

One news anchor reported counting over 100 times that Petraeus used the term Al Qaida in his testimony. Petraeus has also stated that Al Qaida is the major instigator of violence in Iraq. This second statement does not appear to be correct. In conjunction with his use of Al Qaida so many times it is a reflection on his objectivity and honesty.

Posted by: Claude | September 21, 2007 12:08 AM | Report abuse

I don't believe what ever crap Betray Us comes up with matters. Dick Cheney predicted back in 1994 what would happen if we went into Iraq then.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=6BEsZMvrq-I

Dick Cheney said in that video "they: didn't think it would be worth waisting American lives to go after Saddam then. They didn't have weapons of mass destruction. We need to get the hell out.

Ron Paul has been saying we need to pull out immediately, and tried to prevent us from entering the war. He told Mike Huckabee in the Fox Republican Debates "How many people have to die for you to save face?" http://ronpaul2008.com

Check out what retired III Star General Odom had to say about the Iraq war http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/11/21/02413/208

Posted by: Mr. X | September 21, 2007 12:16 AM | Report abuse

THREE LIMBAUGHS.

Michael Dobbs gets three Limbaughs for his selection of covering this in the first place, and for finding this ad essentially true, but casting aspersions none-the-less.

(Did I miss something, or did Dobbs just verify most of what the ad said? The parts he contests are just as much spun one way by Move-On as Dobbs spins them the opposite. That's not fact checking, that's shilling for the administration.)

Posted by: Paulie200 | September 21, 2007 12:17 AM | Report abuse

"War is the lowest form of human endeavor.

War entails all of the (humanly) negative connotations imaginable.

The greatest of all generations is yet to come. The generation that sustains peace at all costs - short of war - is the greatest of generations.

Never forgive or forget anyone who has NOT sustained peace at all costs - short of war."

Whoever you are, rrw, who submitted this, God Bless you; and you are most right of all -- there is a much higher way. (Which I think is what MoveOn is after, isn't it?)

Posted by: mike montagne | September 21, 2007 12:59 AM | Report abuse

Petraeus is running his own Potemkin village for visiting congressmen and other VIPs.
He pays shopkeepers in Dora Market $2500 to open, even if they have nothing to sell. He's surrounded the market with especially high security. He then sends visiting bigwigs there to see how "normal life has returned to Baghdad". They come home and report that shops are bustling and people are on the streets.

It's a no-brainer for Petraeus. The war in Iraq costs $3 billion a week. Keeping Dora Market open costs just $1 million.

Even the US soldiers guarding it say it's a fake, a movie set.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/03/AR2007090301486_2.html
'Weighing the Surge
Sep 4 2007

BAGHDAD -- Nearly every week, American generals and politicians visit Combat Outpost Gator, nestled behind a towering blast wall in the Dora market. They arrive in convoys of armored Humvees, sometimes accompanied by helicopter gunships, to see what U.S. commanders display as proof of the effectiveness of a seven-month-long security offensive...

"This is General Petraeus's baby," said Staff Sgt. Josh Campbell, 24, of Winfield, Kan., as he set out on a patrol near the market on a hot evening in mid-August.

"Personally, I think it's a false representation," Campbell said, referring to the portrayal of the Dora market as an emblem of the surge's success. "But what can I say? I'm just doing my job and don't ask questions."

...1st Lt. Jose Molina, who is in charge of monitoring and disbursing the grant money, said the U.S. military includes barely operating stores in its tally. "Although they sell dust, they are open for business," said Molina, 35, from Dallas. "They intend to sell goods or they may just have a handful of goods. But they are still counted."'
. . . . . . . .

There you have it, in the words of his own men, Petraeus is deliberately creating a false rosy impression for these idiot congressmen.

Posted by: Bud0 | September 21, 2007 1:10 AM | Report abuse

"There you have it, in the words of his own men, Petraeus is deliberately creating a false rosy impression"

You pull out a few quotes from soldiers and make sweeping generalist comments that again go right after the General's character. There are many soldiers who happen to support the General.... Here's a FACT that you might wish to consider in your delusional rant. 130% of the Army's need for reenlistment is being met by those very same combat troops which you say are against the General. Seems to me as if the troops are voting with their feet and most here are grasping at their extremist straws...

Posted by: Egrib | September 21, 2007 2:33 AM | Report abuse

Fact checking -- is that done with rebutting facts or with contrary opinion?

Keep your Pinochios -- I'm with Paulie200 -- but I'll give you 4 1/2 MOOSES!

Where were you during all the Swiftboating when there were actually FACTS for rebuttal?

Up with Moveon.org!

Posted by: rdrover | September 21, 2007 3:04 AM | Report abuse

Re: Independent reports show that the results have been mixed.
=========================================

"Mixed" means IT DIDN'T WORK, GOT IT?

Posted by: Steve J. | September 21, 2007 5:34 AM | Report abuse

Re: But it is incorrect to claim that "everyone knows" it is "unwinnable."
==========================================

Correct but irrelevant. It's true that people who believe Limbaugh and/or Hannity don't know it's unwinnable, but William F. Buckley and George Will do know that.

Posted by: Steve J. | September 21, 2007 5:46 AM | Report abuse

to: rdrover:
Where were you when Dobbs completely reconstructed Kerry's day on the river during the war and proved the swift boat veterans to be liars? oops, guess you forgot to read the bio, not to mention the articles he wrote about it.....oh well, looks like you are one of those people who don't let facts get in the way of your point of view.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 21, 2007 7:40 AM | Report abuse

The Washington Post's analysis of MoveOn.org's claims is tenuous--"A claim of 'tangible progress' was not totally unreasonable"?? Well, hindsight is always 20/20.

MoveOn.org's New York Times advertisement was characterized by the U.S. Senate as an "unwarranted personal attack" on General Petraeus. I disagree with this characterization. General Petraeus willingly and knowingly cherry picked, reinterpreted, and manipulated the facts and statistical realities of the war in Iraq.

This gross misrepresentation was a personal attack on the American people and as such, he is entirely responsible for the wrath he incurred.

Posted by: Emlyn | September 21, 2007 7:58 AM | Report abuse

While the goal of "fact checker" is great, as many bloggers have pointed out, this "fact checker" article goes far beyond checking the objective facts here when -- instead of addressing the actual factual allegations -- the article tries to subjectively discern the "more important questions" and decide whether the ad adequately addresses them. For example, if General Petreaus indeed said what MoveOn claims, then the fact checker should acknowledge that the claim is accurate. The fact checker also should not go on and dismiss or rate the subjective importance of the claim. You cannot claim an objectivness with your subjective rating practices. Moreover, instead of focusing your fact checking upon the claims of a small political group, the Post should habitually check the facts of this President and Vice President. There are good and valid reasons why a large majority of Americans (including now even the major media) do not believe much of which Bush says. And there are good reasons that the attorneys in the Libby trial had severe problems finding jurors for trial who did not already believe Cheney was a liar. If you recall, Bush himself admitted that he felt it necessary to deceive Americans before the last election about Rumsfeld leaving because he did not like the political consequences of telling the truth (i.e. that Americans would believe his departure was politically motivated). This shows unequivocally that -- with Bush -- the ends justifies the means. If he feels it is politically advantageous to deceive -- he has no problem doing this. Without apologies, Bush and Cheney have demonstrated a largely undisguised dishonesty that -- by an large -- even the most unread and uninformed American now recognizes. Should not the Post consider this truth important when weighing their messages? Few people believe or trust either of these two politicians. Is it any wonder that everyone who joins them to advocate on behalf of their political agenda and who are less than absolutely forthright about the facts (Gonzales, Rice, Rove, Snow, Libby and Petreaus etc.) is severely questioned and disbelieved? I say not. (Gates has been spared so far because of his carefulness). If the Post really wants to improve and advance the accuracy of our political discussions, instead of evaluating the supposed "objectiveness" of subjective statements by a small political group, the Post should be running a precise and detailed fact check of every statement made by Bush and Cheney who supposedly head the federal government and supposedly represent the will of Americans. Until our media does this fact checking of Bush and Cheney critically, many of us will continue to believe that the Post (like much of the mainstream media) is acting as apologists and/or puppets of this dishonest and criminal Administration.

Posted by: Patrick Henry | September 21, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

Not to spoil the tone in here, but I have something positive to say:

I'm really surprised and pleased by the quality of the comments on this thread. What reassures me isn't just that a consensus seems to have developed spontaneously -- as happens often enough when an awful piece like this is published -- but that so many of the responses are both forceful and cogent.

It makes me think that the culture (though not the Democratic Party, obviously) really is beginning to tune out the white noise generator of the establishment media. I know that this shift has been coming for a long time, and that many have commented on it, but it isn't until the last year or so that we've really seen the proof; a steady flow of undiluted propaganda has failed completely to move public opinion on a whole spectrum of issues from Iraq to health care reform (if polls can be trusted).

I may be to the left of some people on this thread; I wasn't offended by the MoveOn ad, and am actually troubled and bewildered by the response the ad has received from self-described "moderates." ("Petraeus or Betray-Us" just doesn't seem "uncivil" to me, much less "pornographic." I think it's pretty cheesy, if anything.) Nevertheless, I'm not a conspiracy nut or a moonbat; I teach, I read, I vote. Until fairly recently, I got my news from papers like the Post and the Times. But that's finally begun to change; on balance, I get my news from a variety of web sites.

I don't think that papers like the Post can survive if they lose credibility with readers like me. And the Post already has, because of features like this -- and, e.g., today's "news" headline insisting that "moderate Democrats" are "disgusted" with MoveOn. ("Disgusted?" By the Petraeus-Betray-Us rhyme? Really? Thank God MoveOn didn't run the more severe "David Shmavid" version; it might have sparked a pundit-riot.)

And yet, experience suggests that all the editors will see is that this item garnered "a big response" -- that it "stirred up the pot" -- and that it therefore must be good, just like David Broder's columns are good. Never mind that the reason so many commenters are pissed off is that we can't believe how sharply this paper's standards have declined.

Posted by: My Man Godfrey | September 21, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Move On is essentially correct. Petraeous sounds exactly like Westermoreland. "our presence is working"; "Vietnam is mostly under control"; "we will have the country pacified soon".

Yeah, right. Sure.

Iraq is identical to Nam in this respect.
Our gov continues to lie to its public in order to continue a losing effort, squandering American lives and billions of dollars.

"The surge is working" - yeah - and soon we will have the countryside in Nam pacified.

Posted by: wiley e | September 21, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Move On is essentially correct. Petraeous sounds exactly like Westermoreland. "our presence is working"; "Vietnam is mostly under control"; "we will have the country pacified soon".

Yeah, right. Sure.

Iraq is identical to Nam in this respect.
Our gov continues to lie to its public in order to continue a losing effort, squandering American lives and billions of dollars.

"The surge is working" - yeah - and soon we will have the countryside in Nam pacified.

Posted by: wiley e | September 21, 2007 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Iraq is an anchor around the neck of the Republican party. MoveOn.org has brilliantly duped the Republican party into tying the knot tighter. Republicans had been distancing themselves from the war, but now they have come rallying back to it. Republicans will lose even more seats in Congress in 2008 because of this.

Polls of the American public show they are unmoved by the Inside the Beltway Dance, no matter who is on the dance card. A majority of Americans do not like the war.

Posted by: Brendan | September 21, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

"The Iraq war may or may not be winnable. But it is incorrect to claim that "everyone knows" it is 'unwinnable.'"

Has anyone in or out of the Bush administration explained how the USA wins a religious civil war in Iraq? If not, the MoveOn statement is correct.

Posted by: rmwarnick | September 21, 2007 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Bush has chosen the Petraeus Report as the report of record and has hyped it even though there were several recent reports released as you noted. Mr. Bush has been successful.

The goal of the surge was political progress. Where is the political progress? The Petraeus report, which touts only military progress, itself is suspect according to WaPo. Please fact check the Petraeus report in this forum to give at least some appearance of being fair. As others have said, you fact checked opinions by a group editorilizing.

Again, please fact check the Petraeus report and compare it to the other reports recently released.

Posted by: claire | September 21, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I have worked for generals for thirty years. A fair number were self-centered jerks who would put their own careers above any other consideration. War may be an honorable profession but that does not mean that its practitioners are all honorable men! Move-On did the country a service by asking the question about Petraus.

Posted by: Robert Solick | September 21, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

"You pull out a few quotes from soldiers and make sweeping generalist comments that again go right after the General's character. There are many soldiers who happen to support the General.... Here's a FACT that you might wish to consider in your delusional rant. 130% of the Army's need for reenlistment is being met by those very same combat troops which you say are against the General."

No, I linked to a Post article that is full of verifiable FACTS showing this is a Potemkin village used to fool visiting Congressmen. Did you read the link? Of course you didn't.

As for re-enlistment, those soldiers are re-enlisting because they're stuck there anyway under 'stop-loss' till the end of their deployment.
That means that the rest of their enlistment after getting home will be spent stateside. In other words, re-enlisting in Iraq doesn't add to the amount of time you have to spend in Iraq, it merely adds to the remuneration you get stateside afterwards. And not re-enlisting in Iraq doesn't get you home a day earlier.
So your claim is as phoney as the claim that recruitment is steady. The only reason recruitment hasn't gone through the basement floor yet is that recruits' cash bonuses have roughly quintupled since 2003, and all sorts of undereducated, unfit, unintelligent or even criminal applicants who were previously turned away are now being accepted.

Posted by: BudO | September 21, 2007 11:37 AM | Report abuse

The latest in a series of Pentagon mental health surveys of troops in Iraq, released in May, says 45% of the 1,320 soldiers interviewed ranked morale in their unit as low or very low. Seven percent ranked it high or very high.

The Army Suicide Event Report, released last month, showed suicide at a 26-year high, with most of the extra suicides occurring in Iraq.

As you say, soldiers are voting with their feet.

Posted by: Bud0 | September 21, 2007 11:44 AM | Report abuse

(Please refer to my earlier post 9/21 at 11:24 a.m.)

Please read, "How Dare You," by Michael Kinsley, Wednesday, Sept 19, 2007 in Time Magazine.

"The problem with political correctness is that it turns discussions of substance into arguments over etiquette. The last thing that supporters of the war want to talk about at this point is the war. They'd far rather talk about this insult to General Petraeus."

"This is choreography" says it so well.

Posted by: claire | September 21, 2007 11:45 AM | Report abuse

The ad states: "everyone knows: Iraq is mired in an unwinnable religious civil war."

The Post "fact-checker" reformulates this statement as the assertion "'everyone knows' it [i.e., the Iraq war] is 'unwinnable.'" And, gosh, how can Move.On say that!?! -- that's incorrect!

As we used to say as kids: "smooth move,ex-lax." You set up the straw man and you knocked it down. Well done if you are engaged in polemics, but a betrayal (petraeyal?) if you are supposed to be serving as an honest broker of the facts.

Posted by: John B. | September 21, 2007 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Most of us do not realize that military general-grade officers are more politician than they are tactician/leader. General-grade officers received their stars because they know how to ingratiate themselves w/ their susperiors...not because they are risk-takers/those who speak their minds.
Those who are on the JCS know how to sing one song and that is the one written by whatever administration they serve.
Moveon needs to understand the above (have any of them ever served in the military?) and adjust the aim of its mortars.

Posted by: earl of hartville | September 21, 2007 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand the purpose of this column, unless it is to simply impose your own opinions under the guise of "fact-checking."

Here's what a fact-checker should check:

Quote: In 2004, just before the election, he said there was "tangible progress" in Iraq and that "Iraqi leaders are stepping forward."

Did he or didn't he say it? Are the quotes accurate and true to his intent? When you go beyond that, as you do, you're not fact-checking and you lose all credibility as a fact-checker. I won't be reading this feature again. Ever.

Posted by: cadejo4 | September 21, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

i expected to read a "fact check" when i read your column on the moveon ad.
instead your fact check involved your disputing conclusions made by moveon by simply indicating that you disagreed.
basic stuff: facts can be checked against other facts. conclusions drawn on those facts are always open to dispute and interpretation.
contesting conclusions about "progress" and "failure" and "what everyone knows..." is shocking. are you that unprofessional? or are you simply pursuing an agenda that requires that you pretent to be unaware of the difference between a fact and a conclusion based on particular facts?
your "fact check" would have really been a fact check if you had stuck to the facts, and not wasted your time arguing against the conclusions moveon drew from those facts.
aren't you supposed to understand that simply difference?
washington post readers deserve better.

Posted by: frankie d | September 21, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Gee, I clicked on this page to see what the Post could say was untrue in the MoveOn ad and now my computer smells funny. And it isn't because of the MoveOn ad.

Posted by: Morris Sheppard | September 21, 2007 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Give me a break - what a pathetic attempt to smear this Ad.

What you loudmouths on the right don't realize is that you are only helping MoveOn's cause by whining about it.

Personally I have donated twice this week to Moveon, because I can see how well this is working to shape the debate and it is refreshing to see democrats take a stand for a change!

Posted by: Jeremy | September 21, 2007 5:37 PM | Report abuse

seriously, the reasoning you use here is almost childish. these are the ramblings of idiots, this "fact check"! it has nothing to do with facts. ridiculous, you clowns just can't stop making fools of yourselves in service to George Bush's legacy can you? the WP has good reporters out there, but the in-house staff is the most neo-con centric of any of the major papers. this "fact checking" wouldn't pass in a high school social studies class.

Posted by: Ben Jenkins | September 21, 2007 5:45 PM | Report abuse

What ad was the Washington Post reading?

Even your own reporters said the data that the administration used in Gen Petraeous' report was dubious at best. Is the Bush Administration blackmailing you in some way? Is that why you attempted this smear job? The truth can't be hidden with obfuscated data. I expect to see a retraction... On page 3, of course!

Posted by: June Gray | September 21, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Frightening.

Does "Fact Checker" actually mean "shill for right-wing talking points"?

You've dealt the your credibility another stunning blow, WP.

Posted by: toldstoy | September 21, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Would a republican pussy foot around to avoid offending someone? These republicans can't take the heat. They should get out of the kitchen.

Posted by: FreeDUMB | September 21, 2007 6:18 PM | Report abuse

Those who claim this is a cheap tactic to attract more fund raising may have a point because it is WORKING as far as I am concerned.

Posted by: FreeDUMB | September 21, 2007 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Please fact-check each of the speeches George W. Bush gave in support of the run-up to the Iraq war. Please fact check each of the speeches Dick Cheney gave in the run-up to the Iraq war. Please fact-check each of the speeches Condi Rice and Colin Powell gave in the run-up to the Iraq war.

If you can't be bothered to do this, shut up and go away. But don't waste yours or anyone else's time picking apart a newspaper ad from an advocacy group when you could be looking at the people who actually make the policy that costs our country lives, money, and credibility.

Posted by: Slippytoad | September 21, 2007 6:24 PM | Report abuse

so moveon is right. thanks washington post.

Posted by: k | September 21, 2007 6:28 PM | Report abuse

colin powell presented "the facts" to us and as a respected soldier/statesman, we believed the story. now comes the new well respected soldier and we are told to believe once again. how dare we question the report and findings. the daily show had a montage of bush speeches to the run up of the petraeus report spliced in with his commentary to congress.....almost word for word. bill moyers gave us the report, "buying the war", and we saw the power of repetition practiced then. and now, once again, the same performance and we're told that it is dishonorable to question this. gimme a break....especially from your side. wapo who should have the facts but like before just accept what they are told and then twist the intention of the ad and spout the same dribble of its attackers. i can hear it now "he was so respected and we couldn't imagine him not being CORRECT". just like colin powell. ask colin about getting the facts!

Posted by: robert | September 21, 2007 6:32 PM | Report abuse

Just one point:

Tommy Franks said in the early part of the Iraq war that "We don't do body counts".

I take that to mean that the USA DOD does not track civilian deaths.

So how can Petraeus claim there has been a drop in civilian deaths / attacks or whatever? We track attacks but not body counts?

Posted by: Corey Carroll | September 21, 2007 6:37 PM | Report abuse

I donated to move on for the first time because of the ad. Like Alden Pyle, I think it is time for a third force to come in and end all this republican crap. The third force will be an independent, and also independent of special interests which he will destroy. The world is on the verge and the CONservatives are going to be so left out that they will use their paid paramilitary forces like Blackwater to attempt to cause chaos. Most of these cooks will eventually be punished the way they fantasize punishing others. It's either that or we let this government continue on it's plan of fascist- totalitarianism. Fascism is little geroge bush's wet dream!

Posted by: robert parker | September 21, 2007 7:43 PM | Report abuse

It was an ad, not a comprehensive scientific study. It is your job as a reporter to fact check from a wide variety of sources to draw conclusions rather than limiting yourself to an ad.

The ad was also based on information that MoveOn thought would be included in the presentation. To say that he included a slide about car bombings that the ad said would not be included is not a 'gotcha' moment, it is a complete disregard for the point of the ad.

I award this reviewer 3 blindfolds out of five for bias, misrepresentation and forgetting that facts and views are two different things.

Posted by: Kalper | September 21, 2007 8:36 PM | Report abuse

It should be noted that the "decade-long" comment MoveOn was referring to (according to its own website, published before this fact check) was actually something he told a Congresswoman. MoveOn was NOT quoting the BBC. The "fact-checker" has neatly cherry-picked his fact in this case.

Posted by: whoever | September 21, 2007 9:32 PM | Report abuse

Pathetic.

The fact checker.

Move On mirrors a retorical device used by Fox News every day and you call it an 'attack'. Sure, whatever you say WAPO.

The surge has not failed! On The Daily Show, a comedy mind you, they showed a clip of Bush's speech in January when we were told the surge would give the Iraqi government space to move a political solution, none of which has happened. Let's try this together. When you set out with a purpose and do not achieve that purpose, you can be said to have _______. I guess maybe you think it isn't lousy reporting not to point that out when you knew he was lying when he said it and you didn't point THAT out. ??? Yawn, why do I even look for logic and reason? Must be WAPO brand recognition.

The Fact Checker. :D I have a fact for you. It's a fact, that I no longer take you seriously enough, to even get upset by this nonsense.

Posted by: John Klaus | September 21, 2007 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Here's a fact you missed. Everyday, the WaPo is becoming more and more irrelevant due to it's biased reporting. Your 3 Pinocchios have spent too much time in GWB's arse.

Posted by: BlueBlogsTV.com | September 21, 2007 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to new media sources like Moveon, intelligent people are, thankfully, no longer buying the "facts" you are selling. This piece was pathetic on its face. Not one fact was refuted or even "checked" for that matter. And you wonder why readership is down. The article even mentioned a fact that was reported in its own paper and proceded to refute it because the pentagon said differently.

Posted by: JeffW | September 21, 2007 11:10 PM | Report abuse

reminds me of sanjay gupta's hit piece on Michael Moore's Sicko where he insisted that Moore fudged facts, yet when he was confronted by Moore to say specifically where he `fudged facts' Sanjay stumbled about and had that look of someone just hoping his smile will sell some more wellness books or get him a daytime lifestyle show. and now this? more `some say the moon is made of ancient rock and dust yet others say its really made of swiss cheese and hershy chocolate. The truth is hard to sort out on this" ridiculous.

Posted by: biff | September 22, 2007 12:25 AM | Report abuse

Methinks the "factchecker" is a republican that has been hired by Hiatt. This is a terrible spin job disguised as seeking the truth.
After many years of loyalty to the Post, I'll be seeking my genuine news elsewhere from now on. Too much cheerleading for this dishonest occupation in Iraq, combined with "he said, she said" malarkey, giving Opinion Page space to totally incompetent bushies like Gonzo, Hughes, Snow, Krystol, Bartlett, etc., etc.
Now the online layout has been screwed up even more, seemingly to discourage readership. But what finally did it, besides Hiatt's refusal to admit mistakes in the cheerleading for Iraq and his terribly pro-administration Editorials, was hiring Gerson as a perfect bookend for Krauthammer. I fully expect to see Malkin, Steyn, and Ledeen showing up in the future under the Post's header.
Bye, Fred.

Posted by: badgervan | September 22, 2007 1:49 AM | Report abuse

Thin Man: "I really love how liberals like to use and abuse the military to suit thier own purposes. When Shinseki and Abezaid voiced doubts about the war, they were the darlings of the left. Here comes Petraeus and he's being crapped all over."

Oh please. What a load.

A recent example of GOP abuse to "to suit thier [sic] own purposes":

"I think we would demean their service if we were to say to them that there had to be a parity between the time in service out of the country and the time at home." - RNC chair Mel Martinez

And a random selection from the fearsome battalions of cheeto encrusted, pot bellied, right wing uber partiots...

"General Eric Shinseki, was possibly rebuffed by an Army Ranger for his romantic advances toward the Ranger! Now he is taking his revenge." - free republic commenter

Or this reverent portrayal of Wesly Clark
http://www.militarycorruption.com/Images/clark-cover.jpg

Or this respectful salute to General John Abazaid's years of service
"If this guy was a General, we are in huge !@#$ing trouble!" - free republic commenter

I could come up with literally thousands of such quotes but have better things to do.

The military is nothing more than an electoral prop to the GOP. The minute anyone in the military strays so much as a hair's breadth from the positions of "The Decider" they are attacked, mercilously, by the sabre-toothed sheep on the right.

Posted by: cuzco | September 22, 2007 2:31 AM | Report abuse

No wonder media like the Post are dying. And you are dying fact checker. Now get out of here and go carry some more water.

Posted by: Twopipes | September 22, 2007 4:21 AM | Report abuse

What was this supposedly politically-free, fine military man doing writing an op-ed just before the 2004 elections in support of his commander-in-chief?

Just this fact alone makes him fully game as a target of political questioning. Shame on him for stepping beyond his military duties in support of Bush when a Kerry administration would have ended this madness.

Posted by: BaselBob | September 22, 2007 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Of course, since the U.S, courtesy of Paul Bremer, disbanded the Iraqi army and left them to fend for themselves, why would we expect them suddenly now to have an army capable of defending their country? Why would they even have the incentive, since they can get us to do it for them? The sooner we leave the sooner the Iraqis will get the message thet they either can kill each other off little by little, or find a way to work together to survive as a people. We've done all we can do, now let's get out.

Posted by: rogerS | September 22, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

The ad provided a question mark after the term Betray Us?
That implies that they want the reader to decide whether Petraeus was truthful in his statements or was simply trying to prove the efficacy of his own process. It wasn't a direct charge that Petraeus was evil.
Then MoveOn provided evidence that Petraeus did exaggerate, cherry-pick, sugar coat his evidence of success.
The fact that Petraeus submitted that 2004 assessment (which has proven to be absolutely wrong) shows that Petraeus us carrying water for the GOP and for this administration. That alone should disqualify him from assumed rectitude.

Posted by: Blaze | September 22, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

pResident Bush's illegal,immoral and unnecessary war of aggression against Irag (a country which was NOT a threat to the USA) has made us LESS safe ! There will not be a good end to this for the USA or Iraq ( this is my opinion now, soon it will be seen as a fact ) !

Posted by: shrubnose | September 22, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh for goodness sake. This is mostly missing the point that Petraeus's report came straight out of the White House. The adviser being told what to advise. This is the way our country works nowadays.

Posted by: tbyg | September 22, 2007 6:14 PM | Report abuse

For me, MoveOn has considerably more credibility regarding realistic information about the Iraq war than does the Washington Post, both before and after it began.

Posted by: Dwight | September 22, 2007 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Quote: "Those who claim this is a cheap tactic to attract more fund raising may have a point because it is WORKING as far as I am concerned."

I agree; until this ad I had no confidence in MoveOn.org. Now I have joined and contributed and will contrbute againeach time they whenever are attacked by Freddie Hiatt's fascist Heilers.

Posted by: TomPaine | September 22, 2007 10:22 PM | Report abuse

How are the Swift Boat Veterans against Kerry doing these days??

Posted by: Bruce Adams | September 23, 2007 10:22 AM | Report abuse

The term "Mixed Results", has become a new acronym for "Failure", in any reference to progress in Middle East politics (aka: WAR)!

Posted by: Mike Harris | September 23, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

The Washington Post, just like all the US media, has been carrying the water for the Bush administration since day one. You are all in this together.

I award the Washington Post 5 Pinochios out of 5.

Frankly, you corporate media should be broken up and your boards of governors and editorial boards charged with treason for deliberately lying in support of the Bush administration, for ommitting facts and for failing to perform your primary duty as a journalistic outlet - to invesitgate what the government says and does. Funny how in most dictatorships and police states, the government wants the media shut down for bing too critical of it. I would like to see you all shut down because you are nothing more than a propaganda arm of this fascist government.

Posted by: Radical Moderate | September 23, 2007 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Better no media at all, than government propaganda pretending to be media, that fools an awful lot of people.

Posted by: Radical Moderate | September 23, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: Shane | September 25, 2007 3:06 AM | Report abuse

Why is it OK for Republicans to run attack ads like this but the moment some non-republican group does, then it is somehow wrong. Republicans shamelessly did this to war veteran John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign, they currently do it by manipulating disfigured war veterans to garner support for their lie based war and they will do it again and again. Give it up Republicans, the people of the USA are no longer buying your cheap attempts to twist perceptions about your war and your further attempts to manipulate the impressionable minds of this nation who like to be told what to think. Your quick to judge, quick to anger, slow to understand mentality has been exposed and all your attacks against those who oppose you only further expose your personal greed and hypocrisy.

In retrospect, I'm surprised that the common ordinary US citizen would even care about the Moveon.org Petraues ad. We all knew that General Petraues was going to write his own speech, in his own words, saying exactly all the things that he knew the Bush administration wanted to hear in a form that sounded acceptable to all republican politicians. The very fact that these Bush sycophants in the republican party got some of the spineless democrats to side with them in their wasteful republican efforts to condemn the MoveOn.org add clearly shows that these democrats are no different then these dysfunctional republican politicians. They both only value the interests of the rich minority of the nation, the interests of large corporations and votes in swing states as opposed to standing for their oath to the US Constitution, truth, the facts & doing the moral right thing by the people of the USA. McCain and all Republican politicians should be ashamed of themselves for their self-serving conduct all throughout the Bush administration as it is clear that they are not of, for or by the people.

If these spineless rich republican chicken hawks want their war so much, they should start funding it themselves instead of strapping the wasteful war debt on the backs of middle and lower class children for the next several generations. If these spineless republican chicken hawks really think that their illegal unconstitutional war was and is justified, then they should send their young college republican sociopath offspring to go fight their war. They all claim to be for war but always claim to be too busy to join the military and fight in it. Its time that they put their money where their mouths are by enlisting in the military and going to Iraq to be part of the Bush / Cheney / PNAC occupation of Iraq for oil.

MoveOn.org should be commended for their willingness to present the facts and stand up for the truth. Apparently, the Republican Party has not changed for the better and still has the very same unstable mindset of their vicious pseudo-conservative, quasi-Taliban mouthpieces like Ann Coulter who speak at their fund raising efforts. The appealing part about being like these viscous mouthpieces who attack MoveOn.org is the fact that it allows them to think that they are superior to others and further promote hate and war mongering within the masses. The sad reality to being one of these sociopaths is the fact that they usually cannot find anything filthier then their own personal reflection. When that happens...no problem...they'll just make up vicious lies and attack others. When they are confronted with that reality, they always resort to the same cheap tactic over and over which is to rally their chicken hawks, hate mongers & vicious mouth pieces to make up lies against those who expose their sins. Very predictable...

Posted by: Johnathon | September 26, 2007 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Why is it OK for Republicans to run attack ads like this but the moment some non-republican group does, then it is somehow wrong. Republicans shamelessly did this to war veteran John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign, they currently do it by manipulating disfigured war veterans to garner support for their lie based war and they will do it again and again. In retrospect, I'm surprised that the common ordinary US citizen would even care about the Moveon.org Petraues ad. We all knew that General Petraues was going to write his own speech, in his own words, saying exactly all the things that he knew the Bush administration wanted to hear in a form that sounded acceptable to all republican politicians. If these spineless rich republican chicken hawks want their war so much, they should start funding it themselves instead of strapping the wasteful war debt on the backs of middle and lower class children for the next several generations. If these spineless republican chicken hawks really think that their illegal unconstitutional war was and is justified, then they should send their young college republican sociopath offspring to go fight their war. MoveOn.org should be commended for their willingness to present the facts and stand up for the truth.

Posted by: Richmond | October 28, 2007 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Radical Atheist | November 14, 2007 7:04 PM | Report abuse

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