Believe the Military?

Numerous reports have surfaced on the web claiming that the US government is covering up thousands of US deaths from the war in Iraq:

There is excellent reason to believe that the Department of Defense is deliberately not reporting a significant number of the dead in Iraq. We have received copies of manifests from the MATS that show far more bodies shipped into Dover AFP than are reported officially. The educated rumor is that the actual death toll is in excess of 7,000. [emphasis mine]

How can anyone think the above credible? Why not post these “copies of manifests” on the web? Go to your local Kinko’s, scan them, convert to pdf and find an anonymous ftp server.

As stated, the reports focus on a supposed discrepancy: approximately 25,000 US troops have been flown to Germany for treatment of battle wounds, while the public rarely hears of any subsequent deaths. In fact, there have been many reported deaths from wounds outside the combat zone. In the hopes of dispelling this myth, here is my best attempt at a full listing:

Augusta, GA 2
Died of wounds days later 2 3
Bethesda, Md 2 3 4
Germany, Bethesda
Texas 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
UK
Germany 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
US
Walter Reed 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

There is little if any evidence that the US is covering up some 5600+ deaths of US troops and it is likely that there is nothing to cover-up. The Antiwar.com staff spends many hours a week searching the web for death confirmations, cross-checking with the site ICasualites.org and have yet to find any discrepancy in the military’s numbers. Here are some things to consider before believing the rumor.

Firstly, why trust the government and military — so inefficient at lying about other aspects of the war in Iraq — to be so good at hiding thousands of deaths from the public and possibly the families of those killed? Let’s suppose that there are 7000 unreported deaths. Also, let’s suppose that all the families of these troops know of their lost loved ones (reasonable). Is it really feasible that none of these tens of thousands of friends and relatives haven’t contacted their local media, had a funeral or sent in an obituary? I find it quite doubtful.

In the first weeks of the war, we contacted both the DoD and Centcom to inquire about the statistics they reported and how the press releases were handled. I was told on numerous occasions that the press releases – found here, here and here — are mandatory. Any enlisted soldier who dies must be reported to the press. Though I rarely trust the government to follow the very laws it writes, I do trust that someone in the press or the non-profit sector would have noticed a violation.

To keep yourself informed about the deaths in Iraq, one can visit the DoD site (also see this pdf), check Centcom’s releases, read the well-databased Iraq Coalition Casualties, see our page or subscribe to the email releases.

We at Antiwar.com always doubt what the government says. However, if we are going to claim that it is lying, we will try our best to back up such claims with evidence. It is not healthy for the antiwar movement to spread disinformation and rumors. If the above claims are true, Antiwar.com will investigate any hard evidence sent our way and publish it. Until then, we must assume that the count is accurate, though still too high.

4 thoughts on “Believe the Military?”

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