U.S. military and intelligence officials have systematically underreported the violence in Iraq in order to suit the administration’s policy goals, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group said.
In its report on ways to improve the U.S. approach to stabilizing Iraq, the group recommended Wednesday that the director of national intelligence and the secretary of defense make changes in the collection of data about violence to provide a more accurate picture.
The panel pointed to one day last July when U.S. officials reported 93 attacks or significant acts of violence. "Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence," it said.
"The standard for recording attacks acts as a filter to keep events out of reports and databases." It said, for example, that a murder of an Iraqi is not necessarily counted as an attack, and a roadside bomb or a rocket or mortar attack that doesn’t hurt U.S. personnel doesn’t count, either. Also, if the source of a sectarian attack is not determined, that assault is not added to the database of violence incidents.
"Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals," the report said.
A request for Pentagon
comment on the report’s assertions was not immediately answered.
Some U.S. analysts have complained for months that the Pentagon’s reports to Congress on conditions in Iraq have undercounted the violent episodes. Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq watcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in a November report that the Pentagon omits many low-level incidents and types of civil violence.