Pentagon minimizing Iraq casualty rate
Final column: Iraq
"Every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops know we're for them, and that's why we're trying to get them out of there. Hit the streets. Bang pots and pans. Demand, 'Stop it, now!' "
Either figure represents a historically high injury rate for Americans in any war, although both also are testament to the fact that military medical care is better than ever and saves more lives. . . But which figure of the wounded accurately reflects the war's human cost?. . .
Stephen Robinson, a Washington-based veterans advocate and former Army officer, said the Pentagon purposely misleads the public with its counting methods. For example, he said, the Pentagon has not counted some injuries from chain-reaction crashes as combat-related, even when the crashes resulted from an insurgent's attack on another vehicle in a convoy. By counting them as motor-vehicle accidents, Robinson said, the Pentagon avoids adding injuries to the war's combat toll. . .
A Pentagon spokesman, responding via e-mail, provided a list of injury classifications but did not respond to questions about crashes such as those cited by Robinson.
Harvard researcher Linda Bilmes, who with Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz has done research on the cost of the war, insists the 50,000-wounded figure is the most accurate. That's a ratio of 16 wounded service member for every death. "That's the highest killed-to-wounded ratio in U.S. history," she said in a research paper this month.
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October 25, 2006
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