Last week, Pentagon spokesmen touted the success of Operation Forward Together, a push to improve security in Baghdad. They cited a significant decrease in the number of bodies the city morgue received as evidence the operation was working. The media picked up on it:
Last month, the Baghdad morgue received more than 1,800 bodies, a record high. This month, the morgue is on track to receive less than a quarter of that. … U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of military forces in Baghdad, attributed the capital’s declining violence to a sweep involving 8,000 U.S. soldiers and 3,000 Iraqi troops aimed at stopping sectarian violence.
It looks like they spoke too soon. According to the ABC News blog, the Baghdad morgue today revised its figures upward a whopping 300 percent:
It turns out the official toll of violent deaths in August was just revised upwards to 1535 from 550, tripling the total. Now, we’re depressingly used to hearing about deaths here, so much so that the numbers can be numbing. But this means that a much-publicized drop-off in violence in August – heralded by both the Iraqi government and the US military as a sign that a new security effort in Baghdad was working – apparently didn’t exist. [...] Violent deaths now appear roughly in line with the earlier trend: 1855 in July and 1595 in June.
President Bush said “the initial results” of the Baghdad opertation were “encouraging.” The revised results paint a different picture.