On Monday’s "Good Morning America," correspondent David Wright highlighted an ABC poll which claims a "stunning" 100 percent of Iraqis in Baghdad and Anbar Province view the troop surge negatively. Wright offered this rather amazing statistic during a dour preview of the Iraq progress report that General Petraeus will give to Congress this week. In October of 2002, the veteran journalist highlighted another nearly unanimous poll. Showing extreme naivete, he famously observed on "World News Tonight that in a 1995 Iraqi election, "... Saddam Hussein won 99.96 percent of the vote. Of course, it is impossible to say whether that's a true measure of the Iraqi people's feelings."
While discussing the ABC survey of Iraqi households, Wright didn’t question the fact that not one person could be found who viewed the troop surge positively. After comparing Petraeus’s testimony to that of General William Westmoreland at the height of the Vietnam War, Wright went on to discuss how the poll indicates that Iraqis believe the prospects for the future are "grim at best." He then closed the report by stating the obvious: Unlike ABC, General Petraeus will actually mention signs of progress, in addition to discussing the struggles. "And no doubt we're going to be hearing a starkly different assessment today from this chair by General Petraeus," he concluded.
A transcript of the segment, which aired at 7:03am on September 10, follows:
Robin Roberts: "But we begin with the report on Iraq. As we said, General Petraeus begins his testimony on the hill later today. He is expected to recommend any decisions on troop withdrawal, any major decisions, be put off for six months. ABC's David Wright is in the hearing room where General Petraeus will testify later today. Good morning, David."
David Wright: "Good morning, Robin. The headline here this morning is that General Petraeus is expected to ask for a delay until next March or April before even considering any major reductions in the main body of U.S. forces in Iraq. However, he's likely to recommend the pullback of at least one brigade, about 4,000 men, by year's end, sort of a token reduction, and the possibility of another 4,000 troops at the beginning of next year. But he says any major cuts have to be determined by the situation on the ground in Iraq. The question is, will that enough to convince the skeptics here in Congress that really want to see the troops come home? Pleading for more time in Iraq, the White House has pinned its hopes on the general. Not since the height of the Vietnam War, when the Johnson administration summoned General William Westmoreland–"
Gen. William Westmoreland (April 1967): "One cannot measure progress by lines on a map."
Wright: "–to buy another six years for that war, has so much been riding on the persuasive powers of a single military man. President Bush paved the way dramatically last week with his surprise visit to an air base in Anbar, Iraq."
President George W. Bush: "It is now one of the safest places in Iraq."
Wright: "But members of Congress are understandably skeptical."
David Walker (Comptroller General, Government Accountability Office): "There is no question there is progress in Anbar Province. But Anbar Province is not Baghdad."
Wright: "Iraqis share that skepticism according to a new ABC News poll conducted face to face in more than 2,200 households around Iraq. 47 percent of Iraqis, a plurality, now favor an immediate pullout of U.S. troops. Barely a quarter say their security has improved. 65 to 70 percent of Iraqis say the surge has actually made things worse. In Baghdad, and even in Anbar, a stunning review. Responses about the surge were 100 percent negative. Iraqis are losing confidence in the national government, too. And most say living conditions are now worse than before the war. Prospects for the future? Grim at best. Fewer than one out of three Iraqis expect their lives to get better next year. And just one third think their children will have a better life than they do. And no doubt we're going to be hearing a starkly different assessment today from this chair by General Petraeus. Diane?"