Counting the Bodies

Hard to Keep Track of the Dead in Iraq

Amid increasing suspicions that the U.S. media have been underestimating Iraqi casualties, here are the latest more or less reliable figures culled from several sources, including the government:

Iraq Body Count (iraqbodycount.net) reported that the number of civilian deaths in Iraq ranges from 6,113 to 7,830. Military.com reports that as of August 28 a total of 281 U.S. soldiers have been killed since the start of the invasion—that includes 143 since major fighting was declared "over" on May 1. The Iraq Coalition Casualty Count (lunaville.org/warcasualties/summary.aspx), based on tallies from Centcom, the Defense Department, and the British Ministry of Defence, shows that, as of August 27, 281 U.S. soldiers, 50 British soldiers, and two "other" coalition soldiers have been reported killed. The estimated wounded? 1,212.

But by far the most interesting and quite possibly most realistic report comes by way of Jude Wanniski, the supply-side economist and ex-Wall Street Journalreporter who has struck up a correspondence with Mohammad al-Obaidi, an Iraqi doctor living in Britain. Al-Obaidi coordinates the small Iraqi Freedom Party, which favors free enterprise and is both anti-Saddam and anti-U.S. Al-Obaidi tells the Voice that members of his family have been tortured and killed by Saddam's secret police, and others have been killed in American air and ground attacks. Al-Obaidi, whose brother is a retired general now living in Iraq, says he has no ties with any intelligence service and has nothing to do with the American stooge Ahmed Chalabi.

Al-Obaidi told Wanniski that "hundreds of our party's cadre" spent five weeks interviewing undertakers, hospital officials, and ordinary citizens in all of Iraq (except for what's controlled by the Kurds) and came up with a total figure of 37,137 civilians killed since the beginning of the invasion, 6,103 of them in Baghdad. Those figures, according to al-Obaidi, do not include members of unofficial militias, paramilitary groups, or Saddam's Fedayeen units.


Additional reporting: Phoebe St John

 
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