SIZING UP THE SURGE….The LA Times reports on the difficulty of getting accurate civilian fatality figures in Iraq:

Iraqi officials have been reporting far higher civilian death totals than those reported by U.S. forces, and aides to American commanders now acknowledge that the U.S. military probably had been undercounting such casualties.

….The conflicting figures frequently arise from incidents in which the U.S. asserts it has killed insurgents whereas Iraqi officials and witnesses say civilians died.

….American officers say that trends in both U.S. and “host nation” reporting show that violence has decreased substantially over the last four months. “The trends are the same; the magnitude is different,” said Army Col. Bill Rapp, head of Petreaus’ small in-house group of advisors. “He reports both, and our guess is truth is in between that range.”

The “magnitude” is different. Hmmm. The Times also reports that U.S. commanders think the Iraqis intentionally lowball civilian fatalities in areas where they’ve taken over the lead from American troops. They do this to make their own security forces look better, which, ironically, is exactly the same thing that various independent monitoring groups have accused Petraeus of doing to make the U.S. surge look good in areas where we’ve taken over.

Denying that the surge is working is apparently the latest Great Lefty Sin™, and God knows I don’t want to do that. I’m still waiting for political progress. Still, a year from now it will be interesting to find out just what the consensus is on how much violence really did decrease during the second half of 2007. Stay tuned.

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