Because for the life of me, I can’t understand how taking an "overly rigorous approach to the numbers" makes one "sloppy."

Yet according to Michael O’Hanlon, a senior fellow in foreign policystudies at the Brookings Institution who has closely followedstatistics on Iraq for years, the average number of daily attacks onIraqi civilians and US/allied forces has declined from 160 in August2006 to 120 in August 2007.

The GAO’s data may not reflect the downwardtrend experienced last month, says Mr. O’Hanlon. During his recent tourthrough Iraq, he adds, every local briefing he received from the USmilitary said that attacks in that particular sector were down.

In addition, for the GAO to decline to judge whether attacks are sectarian or not is to take an overly rigorous approach to the numbers, says the Brookings expert.      

"I just think they were flat-out sloppy," he says of GAO.

Doesn’t taking a rigorous approach with numbers make you meticulous, as opposed to sloppy? (HT TP)



Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.