Thursday, September 20, 2007

I am less pleased by the Washington Post's fact check than I was by the Thompson Brownback and Gravel fact check.

The fact checkers award move on three pinochios equal to the number given to Brownback for claiming that Gay marriage in Denmark caused the earlier increase in out of wedlock births in Norway . The rules of fact checking moveon are completely different. In the earlier cases, the fact checkers felt the need to prove that, under an possible interpretation, the claim is demonstrably false. This time it is enough that the claim is not proven. The conclusion

The data provided by Gen. Petraeus on sharply declining Iraqi casualty rates is certainly open to analysis, debate, and challenge. We plan to take a closer look at them in a future post. However, does not provide adequate factual support for its larger assertion that Petraeus is "constantly at war with the facts" and is "cooking the books" for the White House. In the absence of fresh evidence, we award three Pinocchios

what would happen to our debate if politicians were fact checked in this wa ? If an unproven conclusion were treated as equivalent to a false claim of fact ?

Also wh is it more urgent to check an advocacy groups claims than to check sworn testimon. The sa the will look at Petraeus's claims of fact some time, but the just had to do moveon first.

In the specifics of their case against moveon the equate unproven [in a tv ad] as equivalent to false, but the also do more amazing things, including repeatedl writing, in effect, "true but" in an alleged fact check. No WAPO reporters. you can debate the meaning of facts, but not present that as fact checking.

"With hindsight, Petraeus was overly optimistic in his 2004 assessment. But"

That's because, according to the New York Times, the Pentagon has adopted a bizarre formula for keeping tabs on violence. For example, deaths by car bombs don't count.

in the fact check no reference to the Times.

"True, the Post has reported this, quoting an unnamed intelligence official. Multi-National Force Iraq, however,"

get that ? the Washington Post is saying that is dishonest because the accurately quoted the Washington Post.

"True on U.S. military deaths. [snip] The data on Iraqi civilian deaths are much more controversial."

So the fact that facts in the ad are correct is not relevant to fact checking ?

More amazingly still, the fact checkers claim that contradictions between the claims of Petraeus and are proof that is wrong. Since their claim is exactly that Petraeus is cooking the books, this is bizarre. Whenever has a debate been judged on the assumption that everything one part in the debate sa s must be true ?

Thus on Iraqi civilian casualties

According to news reports, there have been more civilian deaths and more American soldier deaths in the past three months than in any other summer we've been there.


The data on Iraqi civilian deaths are much more controversial. Charts provided by Petraeus show a thirty per cent decline in Iraqi civilian deaths from the summer of 2006 (June, July, August) to the summer of 2007. It is difficult to reconcile this reported decline with an August 25 Associated Press report that war-related deaths in Iraq have nearly doubled over the last year, from an average daily toll of 2006 of 33 to 62 so far this year.

According to Iraq Body Count, an independent London-based organization that tracks civilian deaths in Iraq, overall levels of violence against Iraqi civilians have decreased since the last six months of 2006. However, Iraq Body Count also notes that the first six months of 2007 were deadlier than the first six months of any year since the invasion.

On the question of whether bombing deaths are counted. The Wapo "fact checkers" trust Petraeus "However, the Petraeus report specifically includes data for car bombs. (See Slide 4.)" This is a claim. It is also obviously false as I have shown in this blog.

Finally in an ad on Petraeus's testimony wrote

"We'll hear of neighborhoods where violence has decreased. But we won't hear that those neighborhoods have been ethnically cleansed."

In context this must refer to the testimony. The fact checkers contest the claim b noting something irrelevant which has nothing to do with Petraeus's dishonest

"Reporters based in Baghdad have reported that one reason for the declining violence is the ethnic cleansing of neighborhoods. See this useful New York Times graphic, for example. Petraeus did not dispute a New York Times report that 35,000 Iraqis have left their homes in Baghdad as part of ethnic cleansing."

In the testimony, Petraeus showed a slide in which there was no change the sectarian composition of Baghdad neighborhoods [see slide three]. There was no hint that the data did not correspond to the only dates on the slide. The slides hid the fact of ethnic cleansing which had been shown b general Jones.

I think the objection to is that over seventy senators denounced them, so saing their facts are facts, as the are, would be extremist. And, in particular Democrats have conceded that there has been security progress in Iraq, so it must be true. Thus

"the question is, how much progress? It seems difficult to dispute that there has been progress in some parts of Iraq, such as Anbar province. But will that be enough?"

That is the question debated in Washington, therefore debating a point agreed b both parties is crazy like claiming an event in Denmark caused earlier events in Norway.
Note moveon didn't claim that there has been no progress anywhere, but assessed progress overall. Thus the events in Anbar noted b the Post does not check an fact.

The Post is back to its tried and true slogan -- "Speak power to truth"

update: new and improved. now with added y's

1 comment:

baowms said...

Thanks for this. Unfortunately Blogger seems to have swallowed all the letter "y"s, and some of the punctuation and capitalization, making it difficult to read.