US government officials who claim that the surge in US troop numbers has resulted in a massive fall in sectarian killings are omitting one of the main killers of Iraqi civilians, McClatchy Tribune reports.
Explosive devices such as car bombs are not counted by the administration, despite the fact that they have been responsible for thousands of Iraqi casualties in the past few years, McClatchy reports.
The US government has reported declining casualty figures as evidence that the Baghdad Security Plan is diffusing sectarian tensions.
Official figures are based on the number of bodies dumped daily in the streets of Baghdad and do not include the hundreds that die each month as a result of explosive devices.
US officials say the number of bodies dumped on Baghdad streets has declined by 50%, a figure confirmed by statistics compiled by McClatchy from daily police reports, the agency reports.
However the number of casualties due to explosive attacks has risen. In March, the first full month of the security 323 people were killed. Through April 24, this figure is 365, McClatchy reports.
President Bush discussed the issue with Charlie Rose on Tuesday, explaining that "If the standard of success is no car bombings or suicide bombings, we have just handed those who commit suicide bombings a huge victory," McClatchy reports.
Iraq specialist James Denselow, who is based at Chatham House, the London based foreign policy think tank, believes that not counting victims of explosive attacks is misleading and does not present a true picture of whether the surge is having the desired effect, McClatchy reports.
"Since the administration keeps saying that failure is not an option, they are redefining success in a way that suits them," Denselow said.
General Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, said this week that the US does not expect the surge to stop bombings, McClatchy reports.
"I don't think you're ever going to get rid of all the car bombs," General Patraeus said. He added that "Iraq is going to have to learn as did, say, Northern Ireland, to live with some degree of sensational attacks."
Overall the number of casualties, from executions or bombings, has dropped since December from 1,391 to 796 in March and 691 through April 24.
However much of this decline should be attributed to a fall in executions which mainly occurred before the plan began on February 15th, McClatchy reports.
In December 1,030 bodies were found on the streets of Baghdad. That number fell 32 percent in January, to 699 bodies, declining to 596 in February and 473 in March.