Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I swear, conspiracy theorists are dumb as posts

Here's the latest one: Did you know that the actual U.S. military death toll in Iraq is 12,000?

We have received copies of manifests from the MATS that show far more bodies shipped into Dover AFP than are reported officially. The actual death toll is in excess of 10,000. (See the official records at the end of this piece.)... When our research is complete, and watertight, we will publish the results along with the sources

Yeah, I'm holding my breath.

The government gets away with these huge lies because they claim, falsely, that only soldiers actually killed on the ground in Iraq are reported. The dying and critically wounded are listed as en route to military hospitals outside of the country and not reported on the daily postings. Anyone who dies just as the transport takes off from the Baghdad airport is not listed and neither are those who die in the US military hospitals.

This claim is itself false.

It's true that injuries and deaths caused by non-hostile action -- a soldier getting run over by a truck in his convoy, for instance -- aren't counted as combat casualties.

The reasoning for that is that accidents happen, war or no war, and it's wrong to attribute a death to a given war simply because it happened to occur during that war.

That rationale isn't perfect: Operations in a war zone are probably inherently more risky than the same operation in peacetime, in a well-controlled domestic environment. So there are likely to be more accidents in Iraq than the unit would have experienced back home.

But you have to draw the line somewhere, and the overall reasoning is sound. Accidents are a separate category from KIA and WIA.

And even though they're not counted as combat deaths, they are counted. Noncombat deaths are listed on the weekly report under a separate column.

The only category that isn't reported in any coherent way is soldiers who are injured in non-combat situations. Estimates put that number at around 15,000, for what it's worth.

Another category that isn't counted is psychiatric issues that manifest themselves after a soldier leaves Iraq. So a soldier that kills himself after arriving back home doesn't count against the Iraq total. That will tend to understate the total human toll of Iraq, but again the basis is reasonable: how is the military supposed to determine that an action taken after leaving Iraq is related to Iraq? And to what degree? How much time and effort should it put into such classifications?

So one can plausibly argue that the true human toll of Iraq is not reflected in the official casualty figures. But to claim the Pentagon is hiding 8,000 deaths is ludicrous. It doesn't matter what you think about what Bush would be willing to do; it's physically impossible.

If there were 8,000 uncounted deaths, that would mean an average of 160 families per state wondering why their kid's name never appeared in the newspaper as a war casualty.

In addition, these soldiers come from units. The soldiers live together at home as well as fight together abroad. They know each other; the families hang out. They talk. If a given unit lost 20 people but only 5 were listed as official casualties, everyone would know. For your conspiracy to work, EVERYONE in the unit, their families, friends and up and down the chain of command would have to be in on the secret. Which just isn't going to happen.

When constructing conspiracy theories, maybe these folks should construct ones that are actually plausible.

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Blogger JP said...

Sean, I must take issue with one thing here: This is not a "conspiracy theory," this is a lie.

Conspiracy theory is something that can't be proven true or false, because the facts (if they were to exist) would be unavailable. Here the facts are available to prove the accusation wrong. It's just a false accusation.

Conspiracy theorists are smarter than this.

8/25/2006 11:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The career soldier promises under oath to "protect the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, both foreign and domestic"

Terrorstorm brings that oath home


8/29/2006 4:24 PM  

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