Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The more things change...

So much for the propoganda that we went to Iraq to overthrow a dictator and bring freedom to the Iraqis. The reality is, whether they were voted in or not, the Iraqi government (propped up by the US government) is turning to the same secretive, authoritarian style of dictators like Saddam Hussein. They recently closed the widely watched American-style satellite network station Al-Arabiya for a month as punishment for reporting inconvenient truths, and warned newspapers and TV stations to toe the government line or else be shut down.

And last week, health officials changed morgue policy: morgue officials who had been supplying statistics on deaths have been "retired". Statistics on deaths will no longer be provided except through the Ministry of Health. The Iraqis themselves are worried about this sinister turn: the Ministry of Health is controlled by people loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr. Effectively, al-Sadr controls the very government agency responsible for releasing accurate information on the murders committed by his own Mahdi Army.

More details from Juan Cole.

On a related note, it seems that the reason for the apparent drop in the death toll in Baghdad is that the US military no longer includes victims of suicide bombings and mortar attacks.

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.

Having failed to find WMDs, find Osama, bring freedom to Iraq, or control the violence, Plan E is to minimize the bad news that gets out.

No comments: