Is Congressman Murtha distorting Iraq-War intelligence? II

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I wrote that Murtha in his USAtoday column used incorrect facts to substantiate his claim that the US is loosing the war in Iraq and should retreat. For example. He warned that attacks have increased from 150-700 per week, not mentioning that the deadliness has decreased by the same proportion.

Murhta also stated as a matter of fact (with no source) that unemployment in Iraq is 60%. I wrote that the Iraqi-Index by the Brookings institute estimates unemployment at 27-40%, and reports a decline since 2003 (from estimated 50-60%).

In the comment section an observant reader found a recent speech by Murtha where he does provide a source for the same claims:

Last May 2005, as part of the Emergency Supplemental Spending Bill, the House included the Moran Amendment, which was accepted in Conference, and which required the Secretary of Defense to submit quarterly reports to Congress in order to more accurately measure stability and security in Iraq. We have now received two reports. I am disturbed by the findings in key indicator areas. Oil production and energy production are below pre-war levels. Our reconstruction efforts have been crippled by the security situation. Only $9 billion of the $18 billion appropriated for reconstruction has been spent. Unemployment remains at about 60 percent. Clean water is scarce. Only $500 million of the $2.2 billion appropriated for water projects has been spent. And most importantly, insurgent incidents have increased from about 150 per week to over 700 in the last year. Instead of attacks going down over time and with the addition of more troops, attacks have grown dramatically. Since the revelations at Abu Ghraib, American casualties have doubled.”

If am not mistaken, he is refering to is the “Report to Congress Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq” by the DoD, one due every 90-days.

Indeed there have been two such reports, so called Iraq Metric Reports, in July and October. (to the credit of Brookings, the DoD is really just doing what Brookings has been doing since the beginning of the year, gathering all quantifiable data about Iraq in the same document)

What is striking is that figures Murtha attributes to the DoD are not here! For example unemployment is stated at 28% and 21% (in Baghdad), the 60% number is nowhere in the report.

It is reasonable for Murtha to accuse the Department of Defense of exaggerating, if he has some reliable figures that show unemployment to be 60%. But he does no such thing, in his speech he gives the impression the unemployment and 1-4 dead per day claims are Department of Defence figures. Is it possible he is getting completely different data than the DoD report?

Maybe not. In his USAtoday written 3 days after the speech he writes “Average monthly death rates of U.S. servicemembers have grown since the Abu Ghraib prison scandal from one per day to almost four.”

So which is it, doubled or almost quadrupled? Did it really change so much in 3 days? Or is it that Murtha is just playing around with the figures as he pleases?

Murtha is reckless with an extreamly important subject, the deaths of American soldiers, selfless people who volunteered to defend their country for little reward. Murtha is a decorated veteran and was once one of those heros. Why is he now politically manipulating morbid statistics? So concerned about national securety and saving lifes he thinks it is OK to exagerate and twist data? Isn't that what they accuse Bush of doing?

There is no question he is giving incorrect data about casualties, intentionally or due to sloppyness. I still want to give him the benefit of doubt for the incorrectly cited unemployment figures. Is there any reliable source to substantiate the 60% unemployment figure?


The actual figures do show a slight increase, from the beginning of the war to mid April 2004 (Abu Gharib story seems to have been spread in late April) 1.9 Americans were killed. The rest of 2004 the figure was 2.55 per day, whereas the average in 2005 so far has been 2.3. I don’t know if you can attribute the 20% increase to Abu Gharib (casualty figures seem to fluctuate with American offensives). It would require Herculian acts of data-mining to show a quadropling for average figures.

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"loosing" the war is an interesting typo.


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