2006 September 08 Friday
August Baghdad Death Toll Revised To Tripled

You might ask how the city government in Iraq could announce a death toll for a month and then announce a new number that is 3 times bigger?

It turns out the official toll of violent deaths in August was just revised upwards to 1535 from 550, tripling the total. Now, we’re depressingly used to hearing about deaths here, so much so that the numbers can be numbing. But this means that a much-publicized drop-off in violence in August – heralded by both the Iraqi government and the US military as a sign that a new security effort in Baghdad was working -- apparently didn’t exist.

How often do Iraqi authorities understate the death toll?

The US military has developed a curious scoring system for progress where car bombings and mortar attacks do not count.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. officials, seeking a way to measure the results of a program aimed at decreasing violence in Baghdad, aren't counting scores of dead killed in car bombings and mortar attacks as victims of the country's sectarian violence.

In a distinction previously undisclosed, U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said Friday that the United States is including in its tabulations of sectarian violence only deaths of individuals killed in drive-by shootings or by torture and execution.

That has allowed U.S. officials to boast that the number of deaths from sectarian violence in Baghdad declined by more than 52 percent in August over July.

We are doing great in Iraq. We have everything under control. We are making steady progress. Oh, and our war against Muslim terrorists is the same as our war in Iraq. Ooops, I slipped. The rah rah brigade around Bush wouldn't use "Muslim" in front of the word "terrorists". In fact, rather than have a war on an identifiable group they prefer a war on terrorism. Battle against an activity. Better to separate the terror from the terrorists. We don't want to offend anyone because deep inside even Jihadists are all liberal democrats waiting to get out.

The US military greatly exaggerated the decline in deaths.

Violent deaths for August, a morgue official told McClatchy Newspapers on Friday, totaled 1,526, a 17.7 percent decline from July and about the same as died violently in June.

I think we can count on governments to lie.

The issue of civilian casualties has been politically charged since the start of the Iraq war. Soon after the invasion, U.S. and Iraqi officials for a time forbade Baghdad's medical officials to release morgue counts.

About a week after the bombing of a Shiite Muslim shrine in Samarra in February this year, a Baghdad morgue official, a Health Ministry official and an Interior Ministry official -- all of whom oversaw the morgue's body counts -- said 1,000 or more people had been killed as Shiite militias rolled openly across Baghdad to carry out retaliatory killings. Iraqi officials and Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top U.S. commander in Iraq, called that figure exaggerated, saying only about 350 people were killed. An international official in Baghdad said Health Ministry officials had cited the higher toll before lowering it in response to what he said was political pressure.

Baghdad health officials want to buy more refrigerators so they can process as many as 250 bodies a day. I commend their foresight in planning for civil war. They aren't just reacting to events. They are trying to get ahead of the curve.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 September 08 09:57 PM  MidEast Iraq New Regime Failures

Bob Badour said at September 9, 2006 8:24 AM:

And so continues the war of numbers. Bush has reinvented Viet Nam.

I so regret ever supporting this war. Three and a half years after Bush et al lost the war, he and his cronies continue to sacrifice young lives for no purpose other than Bush's vanity.

You would think someone who claims to have a religious bent would have a clue about pride and vanity. Sigh.

paul said at September 9, 2006 10:51 AM:

Any bets that the next line of Bush spin on this mess will be along the lines of:

The US is safer from Muslim terrorists now. Do to Iraq starting the Sunni-Shia global war, the Muslims are too busy killing each other to worry about killing us now. Followed by, hey $20/gallon for gas isn't that bad.

Wolf-Dog said at September 9, 2006 2:53 PM:

Bob Badour: Bush did NOT lose his war, on the contrary, he won HIS crusade to ensure the survival of the oil industry, because the Iraq situation guaranteed that $1 trillion will be diverted from energy research. Basically, alreaedy $500 billion ended up being wasted in the guerilla war, and had we spent this $500 billion sum during the last few years on energy research (nuclear, batteries, clean coal burning, photovoltaics, biomass burning, etc), we would have already solved the energy problem.

Bob Badour said at September 9, 2006 3:07 PM:


He lost the war he sold to the People of the United States of America. Regardless of any other agenda he had, he lost that war three years ago. Ultimately, it is the People of the United States of America who are at war.

Randall Parker said at September 9, 2006 7:02 PM:

High oil and natural gas prices have accelerated privately funded energy research and development.

It would be great to have billions more government funded research into photovoltaics, batteries, nuclear, and other energy-related technologies. But the high prices are certainly speeding up the development of alternatives.

perroazul del norte said at September 9, 2006 7:59 PM:

Grasping at Straws Dept: Maybe the admin could use the deteriorating conditions in Afghanistan as a rationale for an accelerated withdrawal from Iraq and a shifting of those forces to Afghanistan. That,along with serious border security measures, could save Congress for the GOP. Bush deciding that life is no longer worth living might be even better.

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