YET MORE QUESTIONS….Ilan Goldenberg reads the Pentagon’s September report to Congress on stability and security in Iraq and notices something odd: you’d think that the Pentagon’s civilian casualty figures (dead and wounded) and Gen. Petraeus’s civilian fatality figures would track each other in some consistent way, but they don’t — and they especially don’t track each other during the surge.

Goldenberg charts the two lines here, and the main difference is that Petraeus’s figures show a steady decline in fatalities since December while the Pentagon’s casualty figures don’t show any decline at all. Hmmm.

According to the MNC-I data there has been no improvement since either December (The numbers Petraeus and the Administration often cite) or February (when the surge actually began). Why wasn’t Congress shown these numbers in the presentation by General Petraeus? Why only the good news numbers? Why the lack of clarity on Petraeus’s sourcing? Especially since he himself acknowledged that the best numbers come from the MNC-I database.

….Overall, the numbers used by Petraeus have the same effect as all the other inconsistencies. They make the numbers right before the surge look extremely bad and the numbers during the surge look much better. Maybe that’s just a coincidence. But it does raise more questions.

Yep. This might all be completely legit. Maybe we’re the ones reading the data incorrectly. But why should we be playing these guessing games in the first place? Why doesn’t the Pentagon simply release its figures to independent analysts and answer questions about its methodology forthrightly? What are they afraid of?