Thursday, April 26, 2007

Figures? You Don't Need No Stinking Figures

By Cernig

I mentioned, yesterday, the convenient way in which Iraq has decided to withold civilian casualty figures from the UN and other bodies just as Bush, Petraeus and others want to tell the world that casualties in Baghdad have dropped during the surge. It leaves them in a position where they pretty much can claim what the hell they want to since there's no way to check if they are telling the truth.

Which is a problem, since the Bush administration isn't exactly known for being a credible source of facts that might cast its own policies in a bad light.

I'm not the only one who thinks the timing of the Iraqi decision is too cute by half. Over at Raw Story, Michael Roston has the latest from Human Rights watch.
"Is it a coincidence when George W. Bush appears on Charlie Rose and asserts as fact that sectarian violence was down in Baghdad?" Sarah Leah Whitson, Director of the Middle East Program at Human Rights Watch said to RAW STORY. "How is it that he's making that assertion, and for the first time, after the United Nations has published ten reports on the situation, this is the first that doesn't have the data?"

She added, "Is it just a coincidence that when we've established benchmarks for the Iraqi government to show they are in control of the security situation, they withhold the only evidence that might hold the answer?"
The US military has already been gerrymandering the figures. As McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers reported today, they recently stopped counting suicide bombings as sectarian attacks, even if the motive for the attack was clearly sectarian.
Car bombs and other explosive devices have killed thousands of Iraqis in the past three years, but the administration doesn't include them in the casualty counts it has been citing as evidence that the surge of additional U.S. forces is beginning to defuse tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

President Bush explained why in a television interview on Tuesday. "If the standard of success is no car bombings or suicide bombings, we have just handed those who commit suicide bombings a huge victory," he told TV interviewer Charlie Rose.

Others, however, say that not counting bombing victims skews the evidence of how well the Baghdad security plan is protecting the civilian population - one of the surge's main goals.

"Since the administration keeps saying that failure is not an option, they are redefining success in a way that suits them," said James Denselow, an Iraq specialist at London-based Chatham House, a foreign policy think tank.

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