Why No Numbers?

The Washington Post has a decent rundown of controversies of casualty statistics in Iraq, that includes this nugget:

The charts are difficult to compare: Petraeus used monthly figures on a line graph, while the Pentagon computed "Average Daily Casualties" on a bar chart, and neither included actual numbers. But the numerical differences are still stark, and the reasons offered can be hard to parse. The Pentagon, in a written clarification, said that "Gen. Petraeus reported civilian deaths based on incidents reported by Coalition forces plus Iraqi government data. The [Pentagon] report only includes incidents reported by Coalition forces for civilian causality data."

I noticed this absence of actual numbers, too, and all I can say is . . . what's the deal? When I saw Petraeus not including the numbers, I suspected something nefarious. But the Pentagon numbers that contradict Petraeus don't show them either, so it probably isn't nefarious. But it is damned odd.

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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