The Bush administration has consistently bashed the media for ignoring all the “good news” in Iraq. In Oct. 2003, President Bush said, “And, listen, we’re making good progress in Iraq. Sometimes it’s hard to tell it when you listen to the filter. We’re making good progress.”
But according to the Iraq Study Group (ISG) report released yesterday, the Bush administration has actually been filtering out the bad news in Iraq by underreporting violence “in order to suit the Bush administration’s policy goals.” From pp. 94-5:
In addition, 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. 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. For example, on one day in July 2006 there were 93 attacks or significant acts of violence reported. Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence. Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals.
In addition to manipulating statistics, the administration has spent $20 million “for extensive monitoring of U.S. and Middle Eastern media in an effort to promote more positive coverage of news from Iraq.”