Perhaps spurred on by General Petraeus’ claim to Congress last month that civilian deaths in Iraq were down 45% since December last year, the debate about the official civilian death toll in Iraq seems to have intensified.
Several groups – including MoveOn.org who recently ran the ad pictured – have accused the military of publishing misleading figures showing a downward trend in deaths. They claim that the formula the military uses is rigged to minimise the death count.
Apparently the NY Times reported recently that according to anonymous military sources, car bombs don’t count and assassinations only count if you’re shot in the back of the head Ãƒ¢Ã¢â€š¬” not the front.
Clark Hoyt, also of the Times has investigated these claims and has filed this report. In it he’s able to verify:
Back-of-the-head, front-of-the-head is not a distinction the military uses to count victims of sectarian violence. The military’s manual for measuring sectarian violence… says that civilians “shot anywhere in the head” are counted.
Hoyt does agree though that debate about the figures is warranted and that whatever they tell us about month to month movements in the death toll, overall “it isn’t a pretty picture”.
So there’s legitimate disagreement about the body count but nobody except John Key seems to be denying there’s a war going on.