A really good catch by Jonathan Landay, writing for McClatchy. He noticed a tidbit from the ISG Report that others missed, namely that the Bush Administration has set up an absurd method of counting attacks in Iraq in order to minimize the appearance of chaos and violence. He writes:
The Bush administration routinely has underreported the level of violence in Iraq in order to disguise its policy failings, the Iraq Study Group report said Wednesday.
On page 94 of its report, the Iraq Study Group found that there had been “significant under-reporting of the violence in Iraq.” The reason, the group said, was because the tracking system was designed in a way that minimized the deaths of Iraqis.
“The standard for recording attacks acts a filter to keep events out of reports and databases,” the report said. “A murder of an Iraqi is not necessarily counted as an attack. If we cannot determine the source of a sectarian attack, that assault does not make it into the database. A roadside bomb or a rocket or mortar attack that doesn’t hurt U.S. personnel doesn’t count.”
And this was a bit stunning, even to a set of jaded eyes thoroughly accustomed to bad news out of Iraq.
The ISG report said that U.S. officials reported 93 attacks or significant acts of violence on one day in July. “Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light more than 1,100 acts of violence,” it said.
And here’s the Iraq Study Group’s way of saying the Bush Administration is misleading to the public and hurting the country: “Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals.”
Update: For Mother Jones‘ coverage of Iraqi civilian deaths (and how they are undercounted), see here and here.