Friday, September 08, 2006

William Caldwell IV caught in the spin

So the New York Times tackles the Iraqi civilians death toll for August and they appear unaware of what they earlier reported. From Paul von Zielbauer's "Fall in Deaths in Baghdad Not as Steep as Predicted:"

The morgue official said 1,535 bodies were received in August, about the same number as in June and a 17 percent reduction from July. The morgue reported receiving 1,855 bodies in July, the highest number of civilian deaths for any month since the American-led invasion in 2003.
The official, who provided the information on the condition that he not be named because he was not authorized to speak for attribution, spoke on the day when the American military formally began handing over control of Iraq's armed forces to the Iraqi government. The process, which American officials have hailed as a major step toward independence, will take months longer to complete, American officials said.
The August total of violent deaths, if accurate, contradicts the sense among many Baghdad residents and claims by American officials, after a lull early in August, that death rates had ebbed. A surge in attacks toward the end of August also casts doubt on the effectiveness of a four-week-old American military operation that added 4,000 American soldiers to secure several of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods.

[. . .]
On Thursday, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, the military's top spokesman here, wrote on a military Web site [. . .] that since Aug. 7, killings in Baghdad had declined by 52 percent compared with the average daily rate in July. But the military's figures do not include dozens, perhaps hundreds, of the civilians who died violently in August. The military's figures count only killings of individuals "targeted as a result of sectarian-related violence," said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a spokesman for the American military. Killings from other violent acts, like car bombings and mortar attacks, were not counted, he said.
The morgue's monthly body count in Baghdad has become a main indicator of the success of both the Iraqi government's national reconciliation plan and the American military's effort to secure Baghdad.

We can note, first off, THE MILITARY'S COUNT. As Nancy A. Youssef reported in June, the US military has been doing a body count since for over a year (a year in July). We can note, secondly, that the count the press ran with orignally was incomplete and suspect and that should have been obvious due to phrases such as "three out of five reporting."

Martha notes Ellen Knickmeyer's "Body Count in Baghdad Nearly Triples" (Washington Post) on the same topic:

Baghdad's morgue almost tripled its count for violent deaths in Iraq's capital during August from 550 to 1,536, authorities said Thursday, appearing to erase most of what U.S. generals and Iraqi leaders had touted as evidence of progress in a major security operation to restore order in the capital.
Separately, the Health Ministry confirmed Thursday that it planned to construct two new branch morgues in Baghdad and add doctors and refrigerator units to raise capacity to as many as 250 corpses a day.

[. . .]
By late August, Maj. Gen. William Caldwell was claiming a 46 percent decrease in the murder rate in Baghdad for that month. "We are actually seeing progress," Caldwell said at the time. A U.S. military Web site on Thursday continued to assert a roughly 50 percent drop in killings in Baghdad.

Where there is spin, there is William Caldwell IV. Maybe someday he'll be held accountable since "spin" is a polite term for "lie."

In yesterday's snapshot, we noted that Anita Anderson stated she was advising her son, war resister Darrell Anderson, not to come back to the US from Canada. With the latest on that topic, Phinjo Gombu's "Deserter defies mom in return to U.S." (Toronto Star):

"He feels that everything he did was a moral stand and he has to follow it through, which means coming back and facing it, telling everybody what's happening there, what's happening to soldiers and the innocent Iraqi people."
He has told her he will refuse any offer to gain a discharge if it means signing a gag order, she said.
Anderson, 24, came to Canada in January of last year after serving seven months in Iraq and being wounded by a roadside bomb, for which he was awarded a Purple Heart.
An armoured vehicle specialist who joined up at 19, he fled when faced with a second deployment to Iraq.
In Canada, Anderson has spoken out passionately and publicly against the war, calling it illegal and saying he had witnessed the killing of innocent Iraqis and the unjustified death of too many young American soldiers.
His return home during the last weekend of September is expected to be a very public event, with peace activists and Vietnam War veterans meeting him at the border — possibly including well-known anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, whose son was killed in Iraq.
Also present at the border will be his U.S. lawyer, Jim Fennerty, and a representative of the American Civil Liberties Union.
If he is not arrested immediately, Anderson plans to travel to Fort Knox in Kentucky to turn himself in. It is one of two army bases where deserters are kept while the army decides whether to court-martial or discharge a soldier.

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