David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

Perhaps it's time Congress heard from military leaders other than Gen. Petraeus:

NEWSWEEK has learned that a separate internal report being prepared by a Pentagon working group will “differ substantially” from Petraeus’s recommendations, according to an official who is privy to the ongoing discussions but would speak about them only on condition of anonymity. An early version of the report, which is currently being drafted and is expected to be completed by the beginning of next year, will “recommend a very rapid reduction in American forces: as much as two-thirds of the existing force very quickly, while keeping the remainder there.” The strategy will involve unwinding the still large U.S. presence in big forward operation bases and putting smaller teams in outposts. “There is interest at senior levels [of the Pentagon] in getting alternative views” to Petraeus, the official said. Among others, Centcom commander Admiral William Fallon is known to want to draw down faster than Petraeus.

Yesterday, Petraeus testified that Adm. Fallon and the Joint Chiefs support his recommendations. Why take his word for it?

The takeaway from yesterday's round of Iraq hearings: President Bush is content to leave the hard decisions on Iraq for the next President.

Spencer will be providing ongoing coverage at TPMmuckraker today of the second round of hearings. First up is the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning, followed by the Senate Armed Services Committee this afternoon.

In 2004, Gen. Petraeus penned a Washington Post op-ed with a glowing account of the progress made in the training of Iraqi security forces, a program over which he was then in charge. In today's hearing, Petraeus was questioned about that op-ed and what, as events have borne out, were his overly optimistic assessments.

Several readers pointed out that the format of the chart of Iraqi civilian casualties produced by General Petraeus in the House committee hearing today didn't match up with the civilian casualty charts we had produced at TPMmuckraker. So we've combined the numbers into a single chart for comparison purposes (click to enlarge):

A couple of points of clarification. The Iraq Body Count provides a maximum and minimum range of casualties per month. We have included only the IBC minimum number in this chart (you can see both IBC numbers charted here). Also, as you can see from the chart, the most recent month for which IBC numbers are available is June 2007.

Let me emphasize again that this chart is not comparing apples to apples. The AP and IBC used different methodologies, and Petraeus has not revealed his command's methodology, which tellingly remains classified. So comparisons among the numbers have limited utility.

Late Update: One other point that should be emphasized is that the IBC's final numbers lag because of a reporting lag. The IBC expects its numbers, especially from more recent months, to rise as additional casualty reports are received.

Later Update: We've created a larger version of the chart above for your viewing pleasure.