As Josh wrote on TPM, getting an apples-to-apples comparison of Iraqi civilian casualties statistics -- an all-important metric to determine the success of General Petraeus' "population protection" strategy -- over the course of the past year is something of a murky endeavor. One of the most credible Iraq-casualties tabulations, crunched by the United Nations, was lost this year after the Iraqi government, embarrassed by the high reported death toll, refused the U.N. access to Health Ministry statistics.
And it's not hard to see why: here are the 2006 numbers from the U.N., month by month, versus an AP-reported month-to-month breakdown of figures compiled from the Iraqi ministries of defense, health and interior.
Jan 06: 1700 UN -- 549 Iraqi ministries
Feb 06: 2100 UN -- 545 Iraqi ministries
Mar 06: 2250 UN -- 769 Iraqi ministries
Apr 06: 2200 UN -- 686 Iraqi ministries
May 06: 2669 UN -- 932 Iraqi ministries
Jun 06: 3149 UN -- 885 Iraqi ministries
Jul 06: 3590 UN -- 1062 Iraqi ministries
Aug 06: 3009 UN -- 769 Iraqi ministries
Sep 06: 3250 UN -- 1099 Iraqi ministries
Oct 06: 3600 UN* -- 1288 Iraqi ministries
Nov 06: 3400 UN -- 1846 Iraqi ministries
Dec 06: 2800 UN -- 1927 Iraqi ministries
If I've made any mistakes in compiling this, I'll adjust as necessary. But here you can see the discrepancy in determining how many Iraqis died each month in 2006 alone. In February, for instance, the violence in the wake of the Samarra mosque bombing killed at least 130 Iraqis in one day, making the Iraqi government's count of 535 casualties that entire month rather dubious.
*An Associated Press story from November 2006 pegged the October 2006 UN figure at 3709. There is no explanation for the discrepancy between the UN reported number and the AP account.