It looks like it was too good (bad?) to be true. Cullen Murphy has written this letter to the Journal:
To the Editor:
Your editorial about President Bush’s speech latest speech on Iraq (“Complete Victory,” Dec. 1) contains a false statement about an article on the effort to train Iraqi forces by our correspondent James Fallows (“Why Iraq Has No Army,” Atlantic Monthly, December 2005). You said that according to the training organization, the Multinational Security Transition Command in Iraq, Fallows “didn’t even contact them while reporting the article or at anytime during at least the past nine months.”
That is untrue. Mr. Fallows had extensive email correspondence, starting last August, with the Public Affairs Officer for that organization, Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Wellman, who arranged an interview with its commander, Lieutenant General Dave Petraeus, in September. Mr. Fallows spoke with General Petraeus by phone for more than an hour, and checked quotes from that interview via Lt. Col. Wellman before using them in his article.
He also interviewed one of Petraeus’s deputies, Colonel John Martin, and had not-for-attribution discussions, via phone and email, with other members of the organization. As Mr. Fallows pointed out in his article, and as he has records to demonstrate, the Pentagon’s press office turned down his requests to interview Major General Paul Eaton and others who had been involved in the training effort.
At no point before printing this false statement did you contact Mr. Fallows or me to determine whether what you intended to publish was true.
The Atlantic Monthly