We have a new strategy for Victory in Iraq:
As the Bush administration struggles to convince lawmakers that its Iraq war strategy is working, it has stopped reporting to Congress a key quality-of-life indicator in Baghdad: how long the power stays on.
Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week that Baghdad residents could count on only “an hour or two a day” of electricity. That’s down from an average of five to six hours a day earlier this year.
But that piece of data has not been sent to lawmakers for months because the State Department, which prepares a weekly “status report” for Congress on conditions in Iraq, stopped estimating in May how many hours of electricity Baghdad residents typically receive each day.
Instead, the department now reports on the electricity generated nationwide, a measurement that does not indicate how much power Iraqis in Baghdad or elsewhere actually receive.
The change, a State Department spokesman said, reflects a technical decision by reconstruction officials in Baghdad who are scaling back efforts to estimate electricity consumption as they wind down U.S. involvement in rebuilding Iraq’s power grid.***
The reporting change has triggered criticism that the administration is disclosing less information at the same time President Bush is facing off against Congress over how much progress is being made in Iraq. Bush has been working for months to show that the troop buildup he announced in January is stabilizing the country.
“It’s unfortunate,” said Jason H. Campbell, a senior research assistant at the Brookings Institution who has been tracking quality-of-life measurements in Iraq since 2003. “What makes this metric even worth tracking is you want to see what’s happening to the average Iraqi.”
The plan is simple, really. Stop documenting bad news so the traitorous media can’t report it. Once we can figure out a way to stop reporting casuality numbers, America will really see how we are winning!