Not So Fast With That “Pentagon Study”

This morning the Miami Herald published a story quoting a “Pentagon study” that found the situation in Iraq “a major debacle” with the “outcome in doubt”. The story is also being carried by McClatchy, the Herald’s parent company. Obviously, quite a few in the blogosphere have made substantial hay out of the piece.

The excellent SWJ Blog contacted the author of the study and found that not only were the findings of the study misrepresented but that the study was about the period from 2002 to 2004 and not about current events at all. The meat of their quote from Joseph Collins, author of the study is this:

It was not an NDU study, nor was it a Pentagon study. Indeed, the implication of the Herald story was that this study was mostly about current events. Such is not the case. It was mainly about the period 2002-04. The story also hypes a number of paragraphs, many of which are quoted out of context. The study does not “lay much of the blame” on Secretary Rumsfeld for problems in the conduct of the war, nor does it say that he “bypassed the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” It does not single out “Condoleeza Rice and Stephen Hadley” for criticism.

This is followed by a summary of the actual contents and findings of the study.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, , ,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. sam says:

    I’d like the authors of the MH piece to explain why they thought they could pass off this 2002-2004 study as current. But I did see this in the author’s summary:

    The central finding of this study is that U.S. efforts in Iraq were hobbled by a set of faulty assumptions, a flawed planning effort, and a continuing inability to create security conditions in Iraq that could have fostered meaningful advances in stabilization, reconstruction, and governance.

    And I find it puzzling that he also says:

    The study does not “lay much of the blame” on Secretary Rumsfeld for problems in the conduct of the war…

    If not Rumsfeld, who is to blame for that list of failures? (BTW, “it wasn’t Rumsfeld” will come as a surprise to McCain.)

  2. yetanotherjohn says:

    I’m shocked, shocked I say that a mainstream paper would either deliberately lie, mislead or fail to do the most elementary investigation (like reading the paper they are reporting on) in a way that supports the left.

    Of course the good news is that when the MSM start resorting to outright fabrications to find ‘bad news in Iraq’, you know that the situation in Iraq has to be looking up.

  3. William d'Inger says:

    I was shocked when NBC faked the sidesaddle truck explosion. I was surprised, but not particularly shocked, when Dan Rather used fake documents. I am disappointed, but not particularly surprised and in no way shocked at this incident. If the MSM keeps it up, it won’t rate a yawn next time. Besides, I’ve already switched to the blogosphere for my news anyway.

  4. Dave E. says:

    Sam says:
    “If not Rumsfeld, who is to blame for that list of failures?”

    Sam-I encourage you to take the time to read the actual study and then it will be a lot clearer what Collins means and how very different the study is compared to how it was reported. In short, he points out that there were not only individual, but also institutional failures and failures in process. His study is far broader than a few individuals or agencies and though I disagree with some of what he writes, I think it is well worth a read.

  5. sam says:

    Fair enough, Dave E. I did go and download it, and I’ve begun to read it. I will point out that this by Dave S. is itself a bit misleading:

    This morning the Miami Herald published a story quoting a “Pentagon study” that found the situation in Iraq “a major debacle” with the “outcome in doubt”…

    The excellent SWJ Blog contacted the author of the study and found that not only were the findings of the study misrepresented but that the study was about the period from 2002 to 2004 and not about current events at all.

    The opening paragraph of the study proper (p. 11) says:

    Measured in blood and treasure, the war in Iraq has achieved the status of a major war and a major debacle. As of fall 2007, this conflict has cost the United States over 3,800 dead and over 28,000 wounded…

    As of November 2007, Collins thought the war to be a major debacle.

  6. Dave E. says:

    Collins does call Iraq a “major debacle” at the start of his report. Lots of people agree with him and he’s entitled to his opinion, though I think he’s wrong on that. I think it was a mistake on his part though, because it gave the media the chance to ignore his really important findings. It also probably turned off some war supporters(like me) who could learn something from the study. I got past that and found the study valuable, but I bet some people just dismissed it based on the first few paragraphs.

    That would be too bad because I think it offers some good insight to all sides of the debate on what went right and what went wrong in the run up to the war and the immediate aftermath.