Sunday, August 7, 2005

DO BODIES COUNT?

SCRIBBLED NOTE. Today I found a handwritten note in my Beetle that I made while driving and listening to NPR a few weeks ago. The note is scribbled, simply, "24,865" and "37% by U.S. forces."

BEHIND THE NUMBERS. Recalling the story as I can, an organization called Iraq Body Count has been tracking the number of civilian deaths since the start of the war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Using a variety of mainstream news sources, the organization has tallied what they consider a conservative number of 24,865 Iraqi civilians (and counting...) who have been killed by various groups--from the U.S. military to Iraqi insurgents--over the past two years. 37% of these have been identified as killed by U.S. bombs and troops, mostly during the first three weeks of the war. The group indicates that 9% of civilian Iraqi deaths have been at the hands of insurgents.

DOING BODY COUNTS. Apparently the organization got motivated when they heard U.S. General Tommy Franks say, "We don't do body counts." I found their website. For more information, go to http://www.iraqbodycount.net/. If not these folks, who should be doing body counts? Why aren't others counting? Why does it matter?

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