Gen. David Petraeus has claimed that there has been a 75 percent reduction in sectarian violence. In testimony today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, GAO Comptroller General David Walker said those statistics cannot be independently verified.
The GAO’s statistics, which extend through the end of July, demonstrate that the number of daily attacks against Iraqis remains unchanged. Walker said the Pentagon has refused to provide him with the latest statistics. “We asked for but did not receive the information through the end of August.” he said. “They haven’t given us the data.”
While Walker wasn’t privy to the Pentagon’s information, Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) said he recently met with Gen. Petraeus and was shown “the data in August.” Coleman said the data is “very clear about a reduction in violence. General Petraeus has those charts,” Coleman explained. Walker responded by hinting that a classified version of the GAO report contains more explanation of the administration’s claims about reductions in sectarian violence. He said:
Without getting into detail, let’s just say there are several different sources within the administration on violence. And those sources do not agree. So I don’t know what Gen. Petraeus is giving you. I don’t know which source he’s using. But part of the problem we had in reaching a conclusion about sectarian violence is there are multiple sources showing different levels of violence with different trends.
Ilan Goldenberg writes that one explanation for the contrary reports is because the military is not counting deaths from car bombs. The National Security Network notes that Petraeus has made a number of statements about the results of escalation that have been contradicted by Iraqi government data, independent media reports, and other U.S. agencies.
NSN writes, “The numbers have raised such alarm bells that a member of the Iraq Study Group, former ambassadors and leading academics have written to Congress asking them to look into the validity of U.S. government claims.”