U.S. officials, seeking a way to measure the results of a program aimed at decreasing violence in Baghdad, aren't counting scores of dead killed in car bombings and mortar attacks as victims of the country's sectarian violence.So, remember that good news from Iraq that I was able to write about? Remember how happy I was? Well, those happy times were facilitated by this lie. What possible rationale could they have for not counting carbombings as part of the sectarian violence?
In a distinction previously undisclosed, U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said Friday that the United States is including in its tabulations of sectarian violence only deaths of individuals killed in drive-by shootings or by torture and execution.
That has allowed U.S. officials to boast that the number of deaths from sectarian violence in Baghdad declined by more than 52 percent in August over July.
But it eliminates from tabulation huge numbers of people whose deaths are certainly part of the ongoing conflict between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Not included, for example, are scores of people who died in a highly coordinated bombing that leveled an entire apartment building in eastern Baghdad, a stronghold of rebel Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
The dispute is an important one. With Baghdad violence reaching record levels in July, U.S. commanders warned that the country was tipping toward civil war. They then ordered 8,000 U.S. troops and 3,000 Iraqis to conduct house-by-house searches of Baghdad's neighborhoods in an effort to root out insurgent gunmen and militia death squads in Operation Together Forward.
The program, which began in earnest Aug. 7, included bringing in thousands of American troops from other parts of Iraq in what was seen by many as a last-ditch effort to head off a civil war that many Iraqis say has already begun.
Within weeks of the kickoff of the Baghdad security plan, the U.S. military's top spokesman, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, boasted that the murder rate in Baghdad had fallen by 46 percent and attributed most of the fall to the new security sweeps.
"... attributed most of the fall [in violence] to the new security sweeps," indeed. Or, maybe - just maybe - the "decreased" violence had something to do with the fact that the Administration simply stopped counting the violence as violence. What category do they lump those deaths into? "Greating us with Flowers?"
It's just absolutely unbelievable what these people think they can get away with. They think they can play games with war. They think war is a game, perhaps because none of them have any idea of the grim reality of fighting one. They use our soldier's lives as tools for getting elected, and it just makes me sick.