Shifting Sands: Couric Sees Iraq Progress
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Plauged with historically low Neilsen ratings, officials at CBS decided to act bold last week and dispatched their top anchor, host of CBS Evening News Katie Couric, to the warzone in Iraq for a first hand look. Couric replaced news legend Dan Rather as the show's host in 2005 after Rather was forced into retirement after a forged documents scandal regarding the national guard records of President George W.Bush during the 2004 presidential elections. Since Courics installment as chief anchor of the once iconic evening news show, ratings have slipped to the lowest point in the shows history and CBS producers have struggled to find a new winning formula. "My God they're trying to kill her off" joked one late night TV comic in an apparent reference to Couric's lofty contract with CBS, along with the dangers of the Iraq warzone. Couric, however, has remained upbeat and during her recent trip to Iraq's once volitile Anbar provinge she reported seeing "Real Progress" on the ground.
"We hear so much about things going bad, but real progress has been made here in terms of security and stability." exclaimed Couric in her tacit endorsment of the progress of recent "Surge operations." "I mean obviously, infrastructure problems around, but Sunnis and U.S. forces are working together. They banded together because they had a common enemy: Al Qaeda." "The spike in police has really been significant. The incidents in Iraq have really gone down." Couric's comments are a first for major, mainstream, network anchors who have persisted in universally pessimistic appraisals of the Iraqi situation since the wars onset. Her remarks also come just on the eve of American Iraq Commander Gen. David H. Petraeus' much anticipated report to congress on the progress of this years "Surge" campaign. While the generals report is expected to show mixed results on military and political fronts, sources close to the report indicate that it will indicate enough of a positive change to possible prompt redeployment of combat forces out of the war theatre as early as march.
(CBS) BAGHDAD, Iraq One week before Gen. David Petraeus is expected to give his report on U.S. progress in Iraq, CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric says she has already seen dramatic improvements in the country.
"We hear so much about things going bad, but real progress has been made there in terms of security and stability," Couric said Tuesday. "I mean, obviously, infrastructure problems abound, but Sunnis and U.S. forces are working together. They banded together because they had a common enemy: al Qaeda."
Couric traveled to the city of Fallujah in Anbar province, which U.S. forces entered in April 2003 and again in November 2004. That is the same city where, in house-to-house fighting, American forces uncovered nearly two-dozen torture chambers.
"We found numerous houses, also, where people were just chained to a wall for extended periods of time," U.S. military intelligence officer Major Jim West said back on Nov. 22, 2004.
"The face of Satan was here in Fallujah, and I'm absolutely convinced that that was true," said Marine Lt. Col. Gareth Brandl.
It is also the city where four American military contractors were set on fire, mutilated and hanged from a bridge by insurgents.
Now Fallujah is "considered a real role model of something working right in Iraq," Couric said.
"The spike in police has really been significant," Couric said. "The incidents in Iraq have gone down dramatically."
Security and stability have improved in Iraq, but basic services remain in disrepair.
"I think everyone I talk to agrees that restoring basic services is really an imperative step in bringing stability and some kind of sense of society to Iraq," Couric said.