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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fact Check Check

Michael Dobbs notes that Richardson exaggerates his rivals commitment to staying in Iraq.

"Senator Clinton, Obama and Edwards are saying we need to keep troops until 2013, as many as 75,000. I say get 'em all out as soon as possible."

--Bill Richardson, on the Stephanie Miller radio show, November 7, 2007.

Dobbs notes that the number 75,000 does not come from Clinton Obama *or* Edwards and is certainly not a point of perfect agreement stated by all three of them as claimed by Richardson

The other campaigns are also contesting the part about keeping "as many as 75,000" troops in Iraq. According to [Richardson spokesperson Katie] Roberts, this estimate comes from a March 15, 2007 New York Times article. That article quoted a former Pentagon official, Dov S. Zakheim, as saying that the repositioning of U.S. forces to discourage foreign meddling in Iraq and stop the Kurds in the North from declaring independence would require "no more than 75,000 troops." But none of Richardson's rivals has ever mentioned the 75,000 estimate in their speeches.

So far solid fact checking. But Dobbs goes on to challenge another claim

"George Bush's "surge" has failed: this summer was the bloodiest yet, and there's no end in sight."

--Statement on Richardson campaign Web site.

Dobbs claims that this summer was not the bloodiest yet and doing so demonstrates that the concept of "summer" is too subtle for him.

On a different but related subject, the New Mexico governor is entitled to his opinion that George Bush's "surge" has failed miserably. But he is not accurate when he claims that the last summer was "the bloodiest yet" in Iraq. As I argued in a previous post, violence does seem to have been coming down in Iraq since a high of late last year. It is true that more U.S. servicemen were killed in Iraq in the summer of 2007 than the summer of 2006, but the number of U.S. casualties has been falling significantly since August, according to official Pentagon figures.

OK Mr Dobbs let me try to explain things slowly. "Late last year" was not summer. The summer is in the middle of the year. The months at the end are fall and winter.
The period "since August" is not summer. You are looking at data at a monthly freequency. When classifying months we consider June July and August to be summer (if you have trouble remembering note that they are the months without r's).

A claim about "last summer" can not be proven false by events "since August."

I note that, according to the site chosen by Dobbs, there were more US casualties in August 2007 than in July 2007 and that Dobbs linked to a page on Iraqi civilian casualties although he wrote "U.S. Casualties" (hint if the URL includes "IraqiDeathsByYear.aspx" it probably doesn't link to data on US servicemen).

Summer 2007 was, according to MNF-I the bloodiest summer so far, exactly as Richardson claimed. Dobbs argues that this assertion is false by pretending that November 2006, December 2006 and September 2007 came in the summer. This is not exactly true.

I award Dobbs 4 Pinocchios

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