The revival of body counts, a practice discredited during the Vietnam War, has apparently come without formal guidance from the Pentagon's leadership. Military spokesmen in Washington and Baghdad said they knew of no written directive detailing the circumstances under which such figures should be released or the steps that should be taken to ensure accuracy.
So, throwing out a number of the dead and captured that cannot be independently verified is certainly more a matter of politics than an attempt to provide the public with an accurate portrayal of what is happening in the country overall. It's obvious that the daily news accounts like this and this which tally the horrendous violence, along with the fact that Bush is delaying any move to implement his 'new way forward' because he is simply stuck between a rock and a very hard place with no chance of success, require some sort of distraction. Thus, the announcement of the supposed '5,900 killed or captured' figure.
One of the obvious problems with identifying the captured 'enemy' is the fact that hundreds of Iraqis have been imprisoned at places like Abu Ghraib and have later been set free when it was found that they were simply innocent bystanders or had been misidentified as 'insurgents'. That's the US military's version of 'catch and release' in Iraq where they hope to at least round up some of the guilty in their roundup nets.
What has also received very little press are the continual raids on places like hospitals and even offices of the Iraq Red Crescent (ie. Red Cross) which are hampering efforts to help the Iraqi people and which have created an atmosphere of terror.
Fallujah General Hospital - Doctors and medical staff were arrested and insulted, and some were called terrorists, witnesses said. The hospital was then closed, and could no longer offer even minimal treatment.
"We are used to that kind of behaviour from American soldiers," a hospital employee told IPS. "This was the third time I was in handcuffs with my face down. They have been more vicious with medical staff than others because they consider us the first supporters of those they call terrorists."
Many Iraqi doctors have been arrested by U.S. forces for various periods of time on suspicion of "supporting terrorism" in Iraq. Many have fled the country for fear of repeated arrests or even killings by U.S. soldiers or sectarian militia death squads.
The independent Iraq Medical Association announced last month that of the 34,000 Iraqi physicians registered prior to 2003, over half have fled the country, and that at least 2,000 have been killed.
Also in Fallujah:
GENEVA (Reuters) - The Iraqi Red Crescent accused U.S. forces on Friday of carrying out a spate of attacks on its offices over the last three years during operations to flush out suspected militants.
Jamal Al Karbouli, vice-president of the Iraqi Red Crescent, said that in the latest incident, U.S forces had occupied and nearly destroyed its Falluja office, held staff for hours, and burned two cars clearly marked with its neutral symbol.
The only Iraqi aid agency working in all 18 provinces, its 1,000 staff and 200,000 volunteers already face extremely difficult conditions because of the growing sectarian violence, he said.
"The main difficulties we are facing, first of all, is the presence of MNF, the multinational forces, which sometimes gives us a hard time. They are attacking some offices and detaining some volunteers," Karbouli told a news conference in Geneva.
So, while Bush is proudly spouting figures of the captured in order to bolster his case for the ongoing war, we are all too keenly aware of how those statistics are being propagandized to distort the facts on the ground as he tries to save face in the midst of a civil war that is out of control and beyond his capacity to remedy in any effective way.
The military that he's so proud of is continually conducting raids on innocuous targets like the Red Crescent and hospitals while bodies of tortured Iraqis show up on the streets every single day when those troops could be better deployed to areas where there are ongoing and extremely serious and verifiable threats. No wonder they can't get a grip on securing the country.
Not only is Bush losing the real war, he is also losing the war on reality.