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Thursday, August 16, 2007

Leila Fadel of McClatchy is singled out for praise by Brad DeLong and Matthew Yglesias.

I have a problem. I think she pushed back against U.S. officials' spin by downplaying the decline in the number of bodies found in Baghdad. I wrote a long comment at Brad's blog which I cut and paste here.

Hmmmm I quote pargraph 27 ! (If I counted correctly (IICC)) of Fadel's article

"One bright spot has been the reduction in the number of bodies found on the streets, considered a sign of sectarian violence. That number was 44 percent lower in July, compared to December. In July, the average body count per day was 18.6, compared with 33.2 in December, two months before the surge."

The decline is on the order of total deaths from car bombings in Baghdad. The U.S. officieal based their bogus claim of a 50% decline in one of two ways -- either they counted only bodies found and not bombing deaths or they cherry picked two convenient brief intervals one pre surge with high bombing deaths and one post surge with low deaths.

Fadel did something similar. She stresses deaths from explosions and briefly mentions the decline in night time executions in paragraph 27 (IICC). The decline in bodies found is on the order of total deaths from explosions, so by McClatchey calculations civilian deaths decline by about one third not one half.

I think that she should have presented the McClatchy numbers immediately after quoting and challenging the U.S. officials' claim, Now the December rate of night time killings was a huge increase over say last year so one could interpret the decline as reversion to the mean (or completion of ethnic cleansing as Fadel quite reasonably hypothesises).

Still such a large difference in the rate of [execution style*] killing should have been mentioned before paragraph 27 (IICC).

* in my comment at Brad's Blog I sloppily left out the qualifier in []

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