Iraq Violence Peaked Just Before U.S. Election, Data Shows

By Terence P. Jeffrey | July 7, 2008 | 8:24 PM EDT

( - Data from the Defense Intelligence Agency indicates that enemy-initiated attacks on U.S. troops, Iraqi security forces and Iraqi civilians peaked in October 2006, the month leading up to the U.S. midterm elections.

At the time, Vice President Dick Cheney said the insurgents were "very sensitive to the fact that we've got an election scheduled" and were trying to "break the will of the American people." Democrats, who cast the 2006 midterm election as a referendum on Iraq, ended up taking control of both the House and the Senate.

The DIA data shows that between November 2006 and May 2007, attacks remained at the highest levels of the five-year conflict. Since last summer, however, when the surge in U.S. forces in Iraq reached full strength, attacks have precipitously declined, dropping almost 70 percent between June 2007 and January 2008.

The DIA-reported data was published in a bar graph printed by the Government Accountability Office in written testimony presented to the Senate Appropriations Committee on March 11.

The testimony by Comptroller General David Walker was titled, "Stabilizing and Rebuilding Iraq: Actions Needed to Address Inadequate Accountability over U.S. Efforts and Investment."

The graph of DIA data, printed on page 5 of the testimony, shows a vertical bar representing the total number of enemy-initiated attacks in each month of the war. Each bar is divided into color-coded sections (white, gray and dark grey) to illustrate the relative number of attacks against Iraqi security forces, Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops.

The graph shows that the overall number of enemy-initiated attacks during the entire course of the war peaked in October 2006 at more than 5,000. It also shows that the number of enemy-initiated attacks see-sawed for the next seven months, but never again reached the level recorded in the month before the U.S. midterm elections.

Overall attacks declined in November 2006, rose somewhat in December 2006, rose again in January 2007, dropped in February 2007, rose in March 2007, rose slightly again in April 2007, then rose some more in May 2007.

After May 2007, attacks declined in every month except December, which showed a slight increase from November.

The GAO testimony does not comment on the data indicating that enemy-initiated attacks peaked in October 2006, just before the U.S. election; instead, the testimony focuses on the steady decline in attacks after June 2007.

"As shown in figure 1 [the bar graph based on DIA data], the security situation generally deteriorated through the summer of 2007, with the number of attacks increasing to about 180 per day in June 2007," Walker testified.

"However, since then," he said, "the number of enemy-initiated attacks has decreased by about two-thirds, to the levels of early 2005. Specifically, the average number of daily attacks decreased from about 180 in June 2007 to about 60 in January 2008-a nearly 70 percent decrease-as the number of attacks against coalition forces in particular fell considerably. The number of attacks on Iraqi security forces and civilians also declined from June 2007 levels. While security has improved in Iraq, a permissive security environment has yet to be achieved."

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