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?
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.
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|