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Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Still more previously unknown deaths in Iraq

A month ago, back when the U.S. military death toll in Iraq was a "mere" 2710 (it's 2819 now), I wrote about an ABC News report which, taking statistics from the U.S. Labor Department, reported 643 contractors dead. That figure apparently now up to 646, but the report from which that figure comes lists another figure I haven't seen before - another 196 U.S. government civilians have been killed in Iraq since 2003. That brings us to a grand total of 3661 Americans dead as a result of the invasion of Iraq - significantly in excess of the number of Americans who died on 9/11. And that total doesn't include suicides or spousal murders after returning home, deaths which occur after some unknown (but probably fairly minimal) time after leaving Iraq even though the death is a result of wounds sustained in Iraq, and undoubtedly other categories. Not to mention deaths which haven't occured yet, but which will occur tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that, until we can force an end to this war.

There's a grim side note to that figure of 646 contractors dead. Remember, that's American contractors, since the number is based on claims filed with the U.S. Labor Department. But most of the contractors in Iraq aren't American! Like Iraqi dead, chances are no one's even counting those dead.

52 of the dead contractors (most of them not American) worked for Bechtel, who is now pulling out of Iraq as a result. In Bechtel's honor, and thanks to a statistic in today's news, I'll return to a subject I wrote about three years ago: the "rebuilding" of Iraqi schools. Back then (that was three years ago remember) there was talk that "1600 schools" had been "rebuilt," and, as I noted, a perusal of the available information suggested that Bechtel was the only one awarded such contracts. But now, three years later, as Bechtel prepares to leave Iraq, here's the truth found in the corporate media (something you could have found here three years ago):

Almost 1,240 schools were refurbished with new paint, fans and in many cases new windows and doors to replace those looters had stolen.
The idea that 1,600 schools were "rebuilt" was a complete hoax from the start. As I wrote then:
Wouldn't you anticipate that I could find one story somewhere talking about an actual school which had been "rebuilt"? Surely Paul Bremer's P.R. staff would be rushing the camera crews to the site and we would have seen it on every channel and in every paper.

The truth is that "rebuilt" schools in Iraq seem as elusive as weapons of mass destruction. They exist in the pages and reports of the American media in order to condition the minds of the American public, but in reality they're as scarce as hen's teeth.

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