Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Fudging the body counts?

Is there a reason that USF (formerly MNF) can't get its act together. It doesn't have a lot of tasks. They don't do patrols, they just issue press releases. That apparently is too much work for them or else they're deliberately trying to distort the body count. From Friday's snapshot:

Today the US military announced: "BAGHDAD – Two U.S. Soldiers have died in unrelated non-combat incidents. The names of the deceased are being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense. The names of service members are announced through the U.S. Department of Defense official website at The announcements are made on the Web site no earlier than 24 hours after notification of the service member's primary next of kin. The incidents are under investigation." If that's not the most s**t poor announcement USF/MNF has ever made, I don't know what is. When did the two die? Where did the two die? Why are those details not being supplied? Does anyone supervise these press releases? The announcement brings the total number of US service members killed in the Iraq War to 4411.

"S**t poor" was actually too mild. The above press release -- the only one issued Friday by USF and none have been issued since on any military deaths -- tells us two US soldiers died in Iraq Friday. Simple enough?

Yeah, except there were three. From Monday's entry: "Friday the US military announced two more deaths. The News & Observer notes that one of those deaths was Maryland's 19-year-old Spc Morganne McBeth who joined the military in 2008 and was deployed to Iraq August 17th." That's one of the two deaths announced. Yesterday's entry included: "Friday, 2 US service members died in Iraq. One was Maryland's 19-year-old Spc Morganne McBeth, the other was Sgt Johnny W. Lumpkin who 'died July 2 in Balad, Iraq from injuries he sustained in an incident the day before in Taji, Iraq.' Meredith Armstrong (WRBL, link has text and video) notes that the Columbus soldier is survived by parents Jan and Wayne Lumpkin, a wife (July 4th would have been the couple's ninth wedding anniversary) and three children."

Follow that?

Two deaths announced on Friday, two fallen identified. Except it's three. The Shreveport Times reports that Sgt Jordan E. Tuttle also died Friday ("in Baghdad of injuries suffered in a non-combat related incident"). Is there a reason that the military can't get it right? Is there a reason that a division charged with nothing more than issuing press release can't do their damn job? Or is that they're being told not to?

You might think with deaths down compared to previous years, their jobs would be eaiser. But they seem to have a real problem these days doing the jobs that the US tax payers foot the bill for.

Spc Morganne McBeth, Sgt Johnny W. Lumpkin and Sgt Jordan E. Tuttle died on Friday in Iraq. It shouldn't be that difficult in this day and age for the US military to announce that there were 3 deaths. All USF does is announce deaths (and issue happy spin). The Defense Dept is the one who identifies the fallen. All they have to do is issue an announcement of a death. Why is so hard for them? This has been repeated issue for USF all year long. You might think at some point Congress would ask one of the many generals parading before it what the deal is.

4412 is the current number of US service members killed in the Iraq War -- at least that's the current number as far as we know.

Meanwhile David Zucchino (Los Angeles Times) reports on the alleged "high-tech marvels" -- drones -- and how, in fact, they are having high accident rates with 38 of them crashing while on "combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq". Zucchino rushes to reassure "But no lives are lost" -- right and some are extended such as innocent civilians who might otherwise be killed. Meanwhile the Latin American Herald Tribune reports that Spain's Supreme Court was reopening the case in which US troops killed journalist Jose Couso, a cameraman for Telecino, April 8, 2003 when they fired on Bagdhad's Palestine Hotel. Also killed in the attack on civilians was Reuters journalist Taras Protsyuk. Three journalists were wounded in the attack. From Joel Campagna and Rhonda Roumani's "Permission to Fire?" (Committee to Protect Journalists):

A Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) investigation into the incident--based on interviews with about a dozen reporters who were at the scene, including two embedded journalists who monitored the military radio traffic before and after the shelling occurred--suggests that attack on the journalists, while not deliberate, was avoidable. CPJ has learned that Pentagon officials, as well as commanders on the ground in Baghdad, knew that the Palestine Hotel was full of international journalists and were intent on not hitting it.

The following community sites updated last night and this morning:

We'll close with this from Suzanne Ito's "News Outlets Object to Gitmo Reporter Ban" (ACLU Blog of Rights):

Early this morning, a plane carrying journalists departed from Andrews Air Force Base for Guantánamo. Tomorrow, the pretrial hearings of 50-year-old Sudanese national Ibrahim al-Qosi will restart.

Muna Shikaki of al-Arabiya tweeted from Andrews that only four American news outlets were on the plane to cover al-Qosi's proceedings.

Perhaps most notable is who was not among the journalists: Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald, who's covered the military commissions since its inception and has served as the unofficial den mother to all Gitmo journalists. Rosenberg, along with three other reporters, remains banned by the Department of Defense (DOD) after reporting the name of one of the interrogators who testified at Omar Khadr's pretrial hearing in May. The military commissions judge had ordered the identity of the interrogator withheld, even though it had already been disclosed in previous news reports and an on-the-record interview he gave to one of the other banned reporters, Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star, in 2008.

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oh boy it never ends