Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Casualties of War

I'm not "endorsing" the following web column. I'm just wondering about it. It follows up on a column I sent out last week that speaks about a Department of Defense report that an independent web columnist, Brian Harring, says was leaked to him. He says he's going to "leak" it to foreign media so that it can be legally published here later without legal recourse being taken against him for making it public. He claims that the report will show that the 900 page report will show that about 7,000 soldiers
have been killed in Iraq and that the Pentagon is playing "card tricks" with the real numbers.

I'm not saying that he's on the up and up. I'm not asking you to believe this any more than I would ask you to trust what you read in your daily newspaper (or in the New York Times, for that matter). I am simply asking why the mainstream media hasn't picked this issue up and why they are not questioning the government about it? When will they? Next month? After the report is released elsewhere? Just before our next oil war? Tomorrow? Never?

Am I romanticizing the past to think that the American media of yesteryear would have been right on this, "dogging" the authorities, trying to find out the truth on behalf of the citizenry, our soldiers and their families? Probably. But, we know that this administration can not be trusted and that the media have worked with them, lying to us about pretty much every single issue surrounding this war, so far. Is it not entirely likely that they are also lying to us about American casualties, then? I haven't heard a peep from the mainstream media about this. Have you?

Some in the media may defend their silence about the government's lies saying that this DOD report and these allegations are "unsubstantiated" and that this is why the story hasn't yet seen the light of day. I can only respond by saying that, on any given day, almost anything you read in the paper is based on unsubstantiated information fed to reporters by the PR agencies that represent our "public servants". Why should we feel that this information is any more credible than anyone else's? If anything, the government has far clearer motive to lie about this war than an independent web author who will likely bring down upon himself the wrath of the entire U.S. government for telling the public what he believes to be true. Who's more suspect in this scenario?

Government sources are the very LAST people on earth that the media should trust. Yet, on a daily basis, these sources are frequently the only ones that they offer (especially when the advertisement (I mean journalistic piece) in question is being used to sell war to we, the masses.
WMD's, Saddam/Bin Laden/Iraq/Al Quaeda connections, terrorist cells working aggressively within the U.S. to commit further acts of "terror"? Where are all these things that the media told us were true based on unsubstantiated government sources? Why should we believe that the very government that loves war would want us to know any piece of information that might "weaken our resolve"? They lie to us every day.

Isn't it the press' job to dig out the truth and confront our government officials when it appears they have lied or that they are selling agenda based on false pretext? Isn't that what media is supposed to do? Whose side are they on, exactly? Thats definitely a rhetorical question. ;-)


Matt Funiciello
Two Political Parties = One Massive Corporation

Although Pentagon denies under reporting deaths, independent researcher says more than 7,000 GI's may have died in Iraqi combat.
June 26, 2005 By Greg Szymanski
Some war critics say trusting the military to report an accurate GI death toll in Iraqi is like asking a mafia boss how many people he "whacked’ this year. One number, however, not in dispute is that President Bush hasn’t attended a single military funeral, something even the most cold hearted street bosses do out of respect for the families.
Of course no one really knows how many gangster "hits" end up in New York’s East River, but there is growing speculation that Pentagon brass are taking a page out The Godfather Trilogy, using it as a quick refresher course on how to hide the bodies.
The Pentagon denies any foul play or under reporting, a military spokesman last week placing the GI death toll in Iraq at 1,725 and 193 in Afghanistan, a figure changing daily due to increased violence.
In fact, rarely a day goes by when at least one soldier isn’t killed. But the question remains exactly how many?
Pentagon spokesman Maj. Michael Shavers said "every single death" is reported in the official figure if it is deemed to occur "in the theatre" and of a "hostile" nature. He added 366 deaths have not been added to the official list since they were considered accidental or non-hostile.
"If a soldier dies in the theatre of action and it is deemed hostile, then his or her death is reported," said Maj. Shavers, adding accidental and non –hostile deaths are not counted only if totally unrelated to combat. "It should be noted that if an individual dies as a result of an injury in the theatre deemed hostile within 120 days after the injury occurred, the death is counted in the official totals no matter where he dies.
"This means if he dies on the transport airplane or in the hospital afterwards, he or she is counted in the official death toll."
But Brian Harring, an independent researcher and author preparing a book on the subject, places the military’s figures and its method of tabulating deaths in serious question.
For months, Harring has been putting together a painstaking and exhaustive research project, complete with secret Department of Defense (DOD) documents, claiming the Pentagon has been "drastically under reporting deaths, injuries and desertions" in order to dispel war criticism.
"I have put together a comprehensive analysis of the Iraqi War from the planning stages before the war and then have broken down the actions during the war month by month. I show a chronology supported with documents…the actual death tolls are far in excess of the official ones posted by the DOD," said Harring.
Harring’s accusations starting circulating this week in an update of his work at tbrnews.org, claiming he has official DOD internal casualty lists not released which reveal the true number of Iraqi deaths, both military and civilian, as well as accurate casualty and desertion numbers.
Taking his lawyer’s advice, considering the present political climate and the passage of the Patriot Act, Harring decided it was safer not to publish the list in the U.S., opting to first release the damaging DOD documents overseas.
"Be assured that the .pdf (DOD internal) document is real, exactly as reported, but it is a huge 900-page file. As soon as it appears in the public domain overseas beyond the reach of US law, we may then legally reproduce it here in this country, and we will not hesitate to do so," said Harring about the legal complications he is encountering.
"When it is published, it will have a devastating effect on the political scene and will certainly reveal the total lack of credibility of anyone connected with the Bush administration."
Although his research is incomplete, Harring claims figures compiled to date reveal approximately 7,000 GI deaths, 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, 26,000 GI injuries and 5,500 desertions, all far in excess of official military reports released to the public.
"We have received copies of manifests from the MATS that show far more bodies shipped into Dover AFB than are reported official," said Harring. "When our research is complete, and watertight, we will publish the results along with the sources."
Harring is also soliciting public help for his project, asking families or friends who have lost loved ones in Iraq to check out tbrnews.org, a site that is also publishing the complete list of Iraqi dead as released by DOD.
" We have posted an official and alphabetized list of the official dead. We have asked readers to advise us of any names they might be aware of that are not on this list," added Harring.
"Since our first posting, we have received several such omitted names, seven in the first day, and to date, June 20, 2005, 38 total, and are compiling these, along with proofs of death from the DOD, which we will post when we collect a significant number - 100 or more - which cannot be dismissed by the DOD as an oversight."
However, it appears Harring’s basis for accusing the military of under reporting, at least regarding GI deaths, is in direct conflict with the official military categorization of a hostile versus non-hostile and accidental death.
Maj. Shavers said the military reports all deaths if they result from hostile injuries in the theatre if the death occurs within 120 days no matter if they die en route or in the hospital.
Harring contends otherwise, writing:
"There are many more deaths that have not appeared on the official lists because the DOD has taken to the tricky tactics of loading dying and probable fatalities onto aircraft and flying them out of Iraq to bases and hospitals outside of that country.
"So, if a GI is dying or has every expectation of dying, he or she is loaded on an aircraft and their subsequent deaths are not publicly reported as "combat deaths." Of course the families or survivors are certainly notified of the death but the public is not."


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