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The human toll
How to Measure Changes in Sectarian Violence?
Foreign Policy Experts Ask Congress to Examine Methodology of Count
08/30/2007 6:50 PM ET
A group of academic and retired diplomats and civil servants sent a written appeal to Congressional leaders Thursday, asking for an examination of the way the US is assessing the levels of violence, and questioning the validity of military claims that the surge has led to a significant reduction in sectarian killings.

In Gen. David Petraeus's latest estimation, the Australian reports he said in an interview this week that there had been a 75 per cent reduction in religious and ethnic killings since last year.

The letter highlights the GAO's determination that there are differing opinions between government agencies regarding whether or not the surge has reduced sectarian violence, and a number of news articles that display confusion over varied estimates, calling into question the reliability of declarations claiming a certain reduction.

The foreign policy experts, organized by the progressive National Security Network, "respectfully suggest inquiry and attention into the exact nature and methodology that is being used to track the security situation in Iraq and specifically the assertions that sectarian violence is down."


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