Friday, June 24, 2005

The Price We Pay

(Updates below)

I ran across a post in a blog today (Organizing Notes) that made a claim that the 1700 plus U.S. military killed in the Iraqi theater of the Global War on Terror was inaccurate. Not just inaccurate, but dramatically underestimated. Here is the text:

Recently two separate sources have claimed that the U.S. military is dramatically underestimating the number of GI's killed in Iraq. The claim is the current estimates of 1,700 dead do not count those who died after being evacuated to Germany or other destinations. The sources state that internal Pentagon documents reveal over 9,000 have died. Wouldn't it be nice if the media would lock onto this story as hard as they did the Michael Jackson trial? By keeping the public honoring of U.S. war dead to a bare minimum, Bush has so far been successful in keeping the inquires suppressed.
Disregarding the fact that this blogger has a leftward slant, this post made me realize that I had not considered that the number of military deaths attributable to wounds received in Iraq might not include those that died elsewhere. Unfortunately, the sources were not identified. I left a comment, and later sent an email, requesting the sources, but at this time have received no reply. Searching on my own, Nexis and Google provided no supporting documentation.

I did find one entry from the New England Journal of Medecine, speaking of the lethality of wounds, but with no distinction provided as to where the deaths took place.
Though firepower has increased, lethality has decreased. In World War II, 30 percent of the Americans injured in combat died.3 In Vietnam, the proportion dropped to 24 percent. In the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, about 10 percent of those injured have died.
The Department of Defense offers several breakdowns of casualties here. Nothing that I could find in them to support the above theory.

So what I would like to know is exactly how are deaths attributable to wounds received in Iraq counted, when the death occurs elsewhere? Is this number already incorporated into the reported 1700 plus, is it not reported at all, or is it reported elsewhere, and if so, where?

I hesitated to ask this question, as the last thing I would want to do is provide further ammunition to the anti-American crowd, both foreign and domestic. However, I feel that we should be as transparent as possible is assessing the overall situation, to avoid surprises in the future. I would appreciate any information available. I would also hope and pray that these deaths are already included in the presently reported numbers.

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Update: (06/24/05 9:30 Am CDT) I received an email in response to my request for sources noted above. Here is an excerpt from one (boldface in original):

by Brian Harring, Domestic Intelligence Reporter

Note: There is excellent reason to believe that the Department of Defense is deliberately not reporting a significant number of the dead in Iraq. We have received copies of manifests from the MATS that show far more bodies shipped into Dover AFP than are reported officially. The educated rumor is that the actual death toll is in excess of 7,000. Given the officially acknowledged number of over 15,000 seriously wounded, this elevated death toll is far more realistic than the current 1,400+ now being officially published. When our research is complete, and watertight, we will publish the results along with the sources. [...]

So it seems that the research remains incomplete, and leaky. Apparently what we have is a voice crying in the wilderness, with the determination yet to be made whether that voice is prophetic, or lunatic.

The second source is presented as speech on the House floor by Rep. Cynthia McKinney. I have been busy this morning searching the congressional record for references to this, to determine whether or not she cites authoritative sources for comments made, or we're dealing with either rhetoric, or circular references pointing to the first source.

So far, I have seen nothing that would convince me that the reporting of military deaths related to the Iraq Campaign has been inaccurate, misleading, or false. Comments?

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