Thursday, December 07, 2006

ISG: violence in Iraq under-reported

Hey, it's been a while since I posted anything political, so...

Yesterday the Iraq Study Group (ISG) report came out. U.S. news reports have focused on a key recommendation that the U.S. increase the number of troops instructing Iraqi security forces, but that the U.S. begin pulling out troops in 2008 (rather, the proper wording was that all combat brigades not necessary for "force protection" could be pulled out by first quarter of 2008) and the need for diplomatic talks with Syria and Iran.

What wasn't covered by the media in the U.S. was something picked up in The Scotsman: the ISG report states that the level of violence in Iraq has been under-reported. As an example, one day in June of this year fewer than 1/10th of the violent attacks in Iraq were reported by U.S. officials. There were 93 reported acts of violence. "A careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence."

Apparently a murder of an Iraqi is not listed in the reports of violent acts if they don't know who committed the murder. Sure, the murderer could be a spouse or an enraged business partner, but the killing could also (and most likely is) part of sectarian violence. These murders are not reported. Also, a mortar or rocket attack, or roadside bomb, that does not injure U.S. personnel is not included in the database, either.

Key quotes:

"There is significant underreporting of the violence in Iraq."

"The standard for recording attacks acts as a filter to keep events out of reports and databases."

"Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimises its discrepancy with policy goals."

I'm not sure why this isn't reported more thoroughly in the U.S., escpecially since it's giving credence to the study that showed the number of post-war Iraqi deaths was quite a bit higher than official counts.

The Scotsman article is here:

Another item, again not from a major U.S. news outlet, is here:

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