Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Wash Post': Military 'Cherry-Picking' Facts to Prove Violence Down in Iraq

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

'Wash Post': Military 'Cherry-Picking' Facts to Prove Violence Down in Iraq

Article excerpt

With the "surge" report due next week, the U.S. military's claim that violence has decreased sharply in Iraq in recent months "has come under scrutiny from many experts within and outside the government, who contend that some of the underlying statistics are questionable and selectively ignore negative trends," The Washington Post's Karen DeYoung reveals today.

The Post carries her detailed report on page A16. "Reductions in violence form the centerpiece of the Bush administration's claim that its war strategy is working," DeYoung observes. But she adds: "Others who have looked at the full range of U.S. government statistics on violence, however, accuse the military of cherry-picking positive indicators and caution that the numbers -- most of which are classified -- are often confusing and contradictory. 'Let's just say that there are several different sources within the administration on violence, and those sources do not agree,' Comptroller General David Walker told Congress on Tuesday in releasing a new Government Accountability Office report on Iraq."

On its front-page, the Post publishes another critical DeYoung assessment, which opens: "Iraq's army, despite measurable progress, will be unable to take over internal security from U.S. forces in the next 12 to 18 months and 'cannot yet meaningfully contribute to denying terrorists safe haven,' according to a report on the Iraqi security forces published today.

"The report, prepared by a commission of retired senior U.S. military officers, describes the 25,000-member Iraqi national police force and the Interior Ministry, which controls it, as riddled with sectarianism and corruption. The ministry, it says, is 'dysfunctional' and is 'a ministry in name only.' The commission recommended that the national police force be disbanded."

An excerpt from the "cherry-picking" story, also at, follows.*

Challenges to how military and intelligence statistics are tallied and used have been a staple of the Iraq war. …

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