A SENIOR White House official was asked in a briefing
this week if President Bush will ever directly
address the Iraqi people about the deaths of Iraqi
civilians in the US occupation. Instead of addressing
Bush's responsibility, the official delivered
a spiraling rendition of denial.
remember who's killing Iraqi citizens," the official
said. "It's not the coalition forces. Yes, there
are occasional collateral damage deaths in all
wars. But it wasn't coalition forces that blew
up the UN headquarters. It wasn't coalition forces
that tried to force out the Italians and the Japanese
and the Koreans.
wasn't coalition forces that blew up Iraqi police
stations. These are Iraqis killing Iraqis, and
they're the same Iraqis who have been killing
Iraqis for 25 years under Saddam Hussein. . .
. There will be some civilian deaths. It will
be nothing like what Saddam Hussein did."
was all true. It also had nothing to do with the
question. Let's remember something else. The Associated
Press reported back in June that at least 3,240
Iraqi civilians were killed in the first month
of the American invasion. The AP reported that
the "great majority of civilian deaths appear
to have been caused by US or British attacks."
The AP said its tally was "fragmentary" with the
real figure probably "significantly" higher.
October, the Project on Defense Alternatives estimated
the number of civilian deaths during the invasion
to range between 3,200 and 4,300. Last month,
Medact, the British wing of the International
Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War,
which won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985, published
a report that estimated between 5,708 and 7,356
civilians died during the invasion and an additional
2,049 to 2,209 have died in the occupation.
all the administration makes about the terrible
attacks by Iraqi guerrillas against the occupation,
there have been many examples of completely uncalled
for killings of civilians, both in Afghanistan
and Iraq. Twice this month, six and nine children
apiece were killed in bungled US raids in Afghanistan.
In Iraq there have been constant instances of
innocent people being shot dead by trigger-happy
US soldiers, including the most recent incident
in Samarra. The Pentagon bragged about killing
54 Iraqi guerrillas. But local hospital officials
counted eight people killed and 54 wounded, mostly,
if not all, civilians.
continue to make a great deal about the deaths
of 3,000 innocents in this country on Sept. 11,
2001. But our avenging war on terrorism has now
turned into a terrorist attack of its own, killing
perhaps three times more innocent civilians. USA
Today reported this week that cluster bombs dropped
during the invasion killed untold numbers of Iraqi
civilians. Unexploded cluster bombs are continuing
to kill Iraqi civilians that stumble upon them,
March 23, at the beginning of the war, the chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Richard
Myers, responded to early reports that scores
of civilians were killed by cluster bombs by saying:
"The one thing you can be sure of from the Iraqi
regime is that they're masters at lying and distorting
the truth. . . . we only target militarily significant
targets. In the first couple of days, we used
essentially 100 percent precision-guided munitions."
On April 25, Myers said the United States and
Britain dropped 1,500 cluster bombs on Iraq during
the invasion. "There's been only one recorded
case of collateral damage from cluster munitions
so far," Myers said.
course there was only one recorded case -- the
United States has never counted civilian deaths.
Worse, USA Today found that the United States
used 10,782 cluster weapons, not just 1,500.
attempts by the White House to deny the blood
on its own hands continued this week with the
announcement by the Iraqi Health Ministry that
it will no longer count civilian casualties. The
head of the ministry's statistics department,
Dr. Nagham Moshen, told the Associated Press that
the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority has
pressured Health Minister Dr. Khodeir Abbas to
stop. "We have stopped the collection of this
information because our minister didn't agree
with it. The CPA doesn't want this to be done,"
through his secretary, denied the charge. But
Abbas had previously said it would be "almost
impossible" to do a serious study. Moshen said
the ministry's director of planning, Dr. Nazar
Shabandar, told her, "You should move far away
from this subject." Moshen said that there are
enough hospital reports available to produce a
credible study. "I could do it if the CPA and
our minister agree that I can," Moshen said.
a shutdown of Iraqi civilians counting Iraqi civilians,
the denial would be complete. The senior White
House official said, "Let's remember who's killing
Iraqi citizens." The evidence is appallingly clear
that the White House is really saying "Let's forget."
Derrick Z. Jackson's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.
Posted: December 17, 2003