News and opinions on situation in Iraq
   
26/2/05

Pentagon Casualty Figures Don’t Add Up By Jim Rense


www.rense.com/general63/peen.htm

IN MEMORIAM

Today I’m going to do something a little bit like journalism, except I haven’t done any real follow-up. Still, it’s an important issue, and I’d like any Google maestros reading to help.

Go to your local newspaper site, or TV station site, and do a search for “local man woman killed wounded Iraq”. Weed out the duplicates, total the numbers, and then check them against the casualty lists, because there’s something funny going on here.

I started to notice something several months ago. The local papers would interview the mother of someone killed or wounded in Iraq, and more often than not, there’d be a bitter aside: “Of course, for some reason, he’s not included in the official totals.”

Somehow, that struck a chord. And the thought crystallized: They’re lying about the numbers. Think about it – it’s absurd to think they wouldn’t, considering everything else they’ve done.

So, I started reading. Here’s what I’ve found.
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60 Minutes looks at the casualty count.

(CBS) More than a quarter million American men and women have served at one time or another in Iraq. Most will return to the United States more or less intact. But some come home the hard way – on a stretcher, bloody and broken.

And, as Correspondent Bob Simon says, there are few bloodier or more broken than Chris Schneider.

Today, Schneider walks with a limp, on his artificial leg. But even though he was injured during a military mission in a shooting war zone, he is not included in the Pentagon’s casualty count. Their official tally shows only deaths and wounded in action. It doesn’t include “non-combat” injured, those whose injuries were not the result of enemy fire.

How many injured and ill soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines – like Chris Schneider – are left off the Pentagon’s casualty count?

Would you believe 15,000? 60 Minutes asked the Department of Defense to grant us an interview. They declined. Instead, they sent a letter, which contains a figure not included in published casualty reports: “More than 15,000 troops with so-called ‘non-battle’ injuries and diseases have been evacuated from Iraq.” Yet none of these are included in the media-reported casualty count, leaving the true human cost of the war something of a mystery.

“It’s difficult to estimate what the total number is,” says John Pike, director of a research group called GlobalSecurity.org which publishes an informed estimate that goes well beyond what the Pentagon has released.

“You have to say that the total number of casualties due to wounds, injury, disease would have to be somewhere in the ballpark of over 20, maybe 30,000,” says Pike.

His calculation, striking as it is, is based on the military’s own definition of casualty – anyone “lost to the organization,” in this case, for medical reasons. And Pike believes it’s no accident that the military reports a number far lower than his estimate. _____________________________________________________

Then there’s dribs and drabs like this:

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Eight U.S. troops were not counted in the overall casualty numbers for operation in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to Pentagon officials, who cited an audit by the Department of Defense.

Pentagon officials said the names were discovered in the audit conducted after Defense Department officials found that casualty numbers appeared to be wrong.

There was no immediate answer by the services — which have the authority to release names of the dead — as to why the names were not originally reported.

All of the names released Friday by the Pentagon were listed as being killed by nonhostile injuries.

One name, separate from the eight, was changed from being killed during the Iraq operation to being killed during the Afghanistan operation.

The increase raises the total number of dead in the Afghanistan operation from 108 to 112. The overall number of dead during the Iraq operation rises from 529 to 532. ___________________________________________________

Here’s something I didn’t know, and I’ll bet you didn’t, either:

Information about the number of US casualties in Iraq is available on a web site of the Pentagon or known as the “War Hub” at www.pentagon.gov. This information covers only those who are officially US citizens enlisted with different military services.

Hired security contractors, or mercenaries, and recruits who are not citizens who enlisted to obtain a “green card,” are not counted or mentioned. A large number of the green card recruits are from Mexico and Central America. There are no organizations to look after their rights or help them once they’re in Iraq. Most of them are buried in Iraq when killed.

A videotape produced and distributed by the “Majles Shora Al-Mojahideen in Fallujah,” one of the most important military wings of the Iraqi resistance, showed a burial site discovered outside the Iraqi city of Samara with tens of bodies in US military body bags. The dead were dressed in US uniforms. It is estimated that as many as 40% of the US troops serving in Iraq are green card recruits.

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It seems only right that the American public should know every single detail. We should know exactly how bad it is before anyone claims a “mandate”:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) — A soldier who served in Iraq apparently hung himself with a bedsheet last week at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, but the Pentagon did not count that death two days later when it announced “a very small increase” in the suicide rate from Operation Iraqi Freedom.

It also did not count an Operation Iraqi Freedom soldier who apparently committed suicide at the same military hospital last July. The Pentagon said it is not counting suicides among troops who killed themselves after they left Iraq.

A veterans’ advocate questioned that decision.

“I want to know why stateside suicides are not counted in the total number of suicides reported by the Department of Defense,” said Steve Robinson, executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center and a former Army Ranger.

Robinson said he fears an epidemic of mental problems among troops who have served in the war. “There appears to be a significant increase in both suicides and post-traumatic stress disorder,” Robinson said.

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Remember the comments made by CNN news chief Eason Jordan about whether journalists in Iraq were targeted by the military? He resigned but the questions still linger:

Thirty-six journalists – and 18 media support workers – have been killed since the beginning of hostilities in Iraq in March 2003, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

At least nine have died as a result of American fire, said Ann Cooper, executive director of the CPJ.

Why did he back off? We can only wonder. From August 2003:

The Pentagon has confirmed that US troops have shot and killed a cameraman working for Reuters news agency in Iraq.

The shooting happened at Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad, where six Iraqis were killed in a mortar attack late on Saturday.

The US military said that soldiers had mistaken Mazen Dana’s camera for a rocket propelled grenade launcher.

The 43-year-old Palestinian was described by Reuters as one of its finest cameramen.

His death brings to 19 the number of journalists and their assistants who have died in Iraq or have gone missing since the conflict began.

*** The incident took place in daylight on Sunday afternoon. Mazen Dana’s last pictures show a US tank driving towards him outside the prison walls. Several shots ring out from the tank and the camera falls to the ground. His sound engineer, Nael al-Shyoukhi, said that the pair had spoken to a US soldier near the prison shortly before the shooting. “They saw us and they knew about our identities and our mission,” he said.

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Now, keeping that in mind, read this from Indymedia:

According to Islamonline.net and other sources, Dana’s family, when interviewed after the murder, had stated to investigators that Dana was murdered because he was shooting video footage of mass graves of US soldiers --- i.e., soldiers killed who were not counted in the official Pentagon casualty figures --- for a television documentary on the subject for Reuters. Just days before the murder, he told his brother that US military intelligence had been following him around continuously and that he was certain that, sooner or later, he would be killed. According to another article in www.aztlan.net, the mass graves in various locations in Iraq contained large numbers of Mexican nationals fighting on the US army front lines, persons who had been promised US “green cards” and even US citizenship by unscrupulous US Army recruiters if they were willing to risk almost certain combat death.

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These are a few posts from an online military forum:

The website of the Pentagon divides the causalities in Iraq into three categories: 1)”Combat Casualties” — 1,300 dead, and 9,000 injured since March, 2003. Both figures are false. 2) “Non-Combat Causalities.” The site does not report how many of these were injured or killed. Last fall, 60 Minutes concluded that the figure could be around 3,000 killed and over 25,000 injured. 3) “Coalition Causalities.” Information under this category was posted briefly, then deleted. The figures showed 750 killed and 1,034 injured. It is not clear who these people were. If they were “coalition forces,” then why are their countries not claiming them?

This:

Well, for starters, MIAs are not counted as fatalities. Those are called KIAs. Spec Ops guys ARE counted but often the circumstances of their deaths are classified. As for illegals and guys without families, what makes you think there is a special category for them?

Everybody has to designate somebody to receive their life insurance, unpaid wages, and personal property in the event of their deaths. Before any service member deploys he must update and verify his “Page 2", the service record page that records such data. These pages don’t simply disappear if the guy in question is Spec[ial] Ops or some other of your special categories.

People might disappear without explanation but paperwork in the military is eternal. Nothing happens without the paperwork. Nothing.

That last post leads me to believe that if an actual journalist, someone with resources, balls and determination, filed the right FOIA requests, we might begin to get some numbers we can trust. June 2003, from columnist and Vietnam vet James Glaser:

How would you feel if your son was killed in Iraq and your government refused to count him as a causality of the war? Let us say your son and his unit were heading down a road at high speed, trying to get to where some other American troops were under attack and their vehicle flips over because of bad roads and all are killed.

According to the way Washington counts battle deaths in Iraq, your son died in an unfortunate accident and is not counted as dying in combat for his nation. You see, it sounds better if President Bush can say that only 25 Americans have lost their lives since he said the war was over on that flight deck thirty miles off our coast.

In reports from Washington and in every major newspaper the smaller number of combat deaths is reported as the amount of Americans killed in Iraq since the end of the hostilities, even though the real number is more than twice as high.

With 25 deaths that is only one every two and a half days, but if they were honest, they would tell us the real number. Sixty five Americans have lost their lives since May 1st when we started counting Post War deaths and that is over one per day. Washington wants to keep these numbers as low as possible, otherwise Americans might stop supporting our continued occupation of Iraq. And that’s the crux of it, after all.

If the American people knew it was closer to, say, 4,000 troops dead and 30,000 wounded, it wouldn’t look like such a good trade. It might even lead people to question the wisdom of starting the same game all over again in Iran.

And we can’t have that, can we?

 
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