Statement by Colonel Steven A. Boylan, spokesman for General David Petraeus, commander, Multi-National Force-Iraq, to the Fact Checker.
September 22, 2007
Let me explain the three lines to ensure that you understand the reasons for the apparent discrepancies. It is our expectation that we get a "Geppetto Check" on your webpage — and would welcome a visit by you to Iraq to see how we do statistics.
The orange and yellow lines are from Coalition-only reports that form the SIGACTS III (Significant Activities) database. The orange line is total casualties (wounded and dead civilians) as Coalition forces reported them and we published in the 9010. Because the two lines are linked, they show the same trends except for August because of the large number of wounded civilians in the Yazidi bombings near Sinjar.
The blue line is from the CIOC (Coalition Intelligence Operations Center) database and includes unverified host nation reports as well as SIGACTS III data for dead civilians (thus it is higher than the yellow line.) This is the data that General Petraeus gave in his testimony because it is as close as we can get to total truth on dead civilians (although the host nation reports are often inflated and redundant). We used this data to ensure the that there can be no claims as to cherry picking or deflating data by only using Coalition reporting/data as we incorporated host nation data into the testimony. General Petraeus purposefully chose to use the higher (and possibly inflated) blue line data to avoid any charge that he was trying to make everything look good or more positive. This is as realistic as it comes.
There are two time periods that must be addressed. May 2006 you will see a dramatic jump in the blue line. That is when the host nation reporting system really came on line and was incorporated into the CIOC database. In December 2006 the blue line crosses the orange line because of a large number of unverified host nation reports of dead civilians are included in the CIOC database, but could not be verified by Coalition forces and thus were not included in the SIGACTS III data.
We completely stand by our data as the most robust and accurate data available. We have no reason to falsely report any of this and constantly strive to improve both collection and analysis. The Iraqis are also getting better at reporting and verifying the veracity of their reports and so the data coming into the CIOC database from both SIGACTS III (Coalition reports) and Iraqi reports are continually improving.