They’re still at it.
Nearly a month ago, we reported that the Defense Department was refusing a routine request from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to declassify statistics on enemy attacks in Iraq. As long as GAO has produced periodic reports on the war for members of Congress — GAO’s boss — the Pentagon had provided those numbers. But despite repeated requests, DoD wouldn’t budge on making public the figures for September, October and November 2006.
They still won’t. On Tuesday the GAO released a new report on Iraq, but its data on attacks is incomplete. Why? The Pentagon has continued to keep the attack numbers an official secret, GAO official Joseph A. Christoff told me. “They did not officially declassify the information,” he said.
Undaunted, Christoff said his staff reviewed testimony of Defense officials before Congress. Lo and behold, at a recent open hearing, a Defense Intelligence Agency official mentioned attack statistics for part of the missing period. The GAO inserted those numbers, covering September and part of October, in the report. November is still missing. Here’s the chart (click to enlarge):
In December 2006, the Pentagon issued its own report on the stability of Iraq, and included partial numbers. The statistics it had routinely provided the GAO, however, were not included. Still, it was clear that those months were the most violent since the U.S. invasion.
Despite that, and the DIA official’s testimony, and its history of declassifying the data, the Pentagon still insists to the GAO the information for October, November and December is classified. Christoff maintains he’s perplexed by the situation. “I’m still a bit confused why it was done routinely in the past, but there’s some difficult in reaching a decision now.”
That’s far from the only once-public data which has been removed from view by the Bush administration. To see our growing list of examples, click here.