First Published: 2006-10-17

Hiding the dead bodies in Iraq

Hiding the dead bodies in Iraq is a job that requires a considerable amount of talent. It is a task that would not be possible without willing collaborators in every major media outlet in America. We forget Iraq’s dead because CNN and FOX have erased their memory, argues Ahmed Amr.


Middle East Online

If there is one thing about George Bush that both his supporters and detractors can agree on - it has to be his inflexibility. His partisans call it consistency while others recognize it as obstinacy. As governor of Texas, he never once pardoned a man condemned to the hangman’s noose. And as chief executive, he never vetoes a bill that makes it to the oval office.

On the subject of Iraq, Bush adamantly refuses to recognize the terrible human catastrophe he unleashed by launching this war of choice. There is never even a hint of personal guilt about the laundry list of war crimes committed by his post-mission-accomplished mismanagement of America’s newest colony.

This is a man as blind as Stalin when it comes to the suffering he has inflicted on millions of people around the globe. Like the former Soviet dictator, he probably subscribes to the view that the death of a single man is a tragedy and the slaughter of millions is a statistic. In private meetings with the families of fallen soldiers – he is said to demonstrate considerable compassion to the point of shedding a tear or two. Yet when confronted with questions about the number of Iraqi fatalities – he gets distracted by the fashionable attire of a reporter who cares enough to bring up the matter.

In his recent press conference – George Bush pushed aside the recent findings of a British study that estimated that over 600,000 Iraqis had perished in the war in Iraq. That’s one in forty of the inhabitants of the country he set out to ‘liberate.’ The American equivalent would be seven million fatalities – over twice as many victims as the combined American casualties from every war since the founding of the Republic.

In dismissing the findings of the John Hopkins Lancet report, the Stalinist neo-con statisticians in the White House criticized the ‘discredited’ methodology. Of course, the president never bothers to volunteer his own estimate or discuss why some of the ample resources under his command have not been directed at keeping an honest tally of the carnage he has unleashed.

It would be unfair to suggest that Bush administration doesn’t have its own time tested methodology for estimating the amount of blood shed by our colonial subjects in Mesopotamia. From the very first day of the conflict, they made it clear that they ‘don’t do body counts.’ True to their word, they have spared no effort to make good on that promise.

Hiding the dead bodies in Iraq has become an art. There are rough estimates from Baghdad morgues – but it is well established that morgue officials are routinely intimidated and threatened with death if they give accurate accounts of the number victims that come through their doors. Some bodies never make it to the morgues – lost forever in unmarked graves, sewers or unceremoniously dumped in garbage dumps. Others are simply buried by relatives in family plots. They know better than to report the information to the very police officers that are intimately involved with the death squads responsible for the early demise of their loved ones.

No one has a clue about the number of victims in the terra incognita outside the capital. Reporters and coalition officials rarely bother to venture outside the Green Zone - a fantasy island where they live lives of splendor away from the scene of Bush’s crimes. Even the majority of American soldiers are immune from witnessing the devastating realities of a civil war in progress. With the exception of the small minority actually assigned to combat duties – the vast majority spend their time safely confined to bases.

Force protection is Job One and the primary reason we have 141,000 troops on the ground in Iraq is that the generals need tens of thousands to soldiers to supply and protect the ‘enduring bases’ which could very well end up being permanent garrisons. Because they are so busy securing their own forces, the American military has precious little time to keep track of Iraqi casualties.

As a police state, Saddam’s Iraq was the kind of place where they kept accurate track of the citizenry. The series of recent election demonstrated that the current regime knows enough to register voters by jurisdiction. So, the United States inherited a country where it is certainly feasible to count the number of births and the number of deaths. Considering the tens of billions of dollars in American taxes and oil revenues allocated to ‘reconstruction,’ it stands to reason that enough resources are available to record the cause of each death.

It’s not that the United States government can’t keep statistics. Rather, the Bush administration deliberately avoids broadcasting accurate estimates to keep the average American in the dark about the extent of agony Bush has inflicted on the average Iraqi. The astronomical quantity of pain and personal loss endured by every individual Iraqi would shock even the most jaded supporter of the war.

This is, after all, a government that prevents curious American eyes from witnessing the arrival of body bags containing the remains of its own soldiers. The vast majority of these young warriors went to their graves in the honest belief that they were dispatched to Iraq to disarm Saddam of phantom stockpiles of WMDs. And lest we forget, this Likudnik neo-con venture was sold to the American public on the strength of manufactured intelligence.

In truth, the administration has no other option but to hide the dead bodies in Iraq under the sacred carpet of denial beneath the president’s feet.

But that is not the worst of it. The fact is that the president and his apologists have managed to enlist virtually every major American media outlet in this conspiracy of silence. George consistently tells the same blatant lies and consistently gets away with it because the media lords consistently cover up for him. Even today, his campaign of ‘misinformation’ has one out of every two Americans believing that Iraq had WMDs – that’s up from thirty five percent last year. You can thank Rupert Murdoch for that dubious achievement.

Hiding the dead bodies in Iraq is a job that requires a considerable amount of talent. It is a task that would not be possible without willing collaborators in every major media outlet in America. We forget Iraq’s dead because CNN and FOX have erased their memory. Bush’s many blunders in Iraq would never have happened without the legions of neo-con pundits who were given free access to the editorial pages of the New York Times, The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.

The grim reapers of the media controlled state hover like vultures above the carnage – indifferent to the killing fields below. Rupert’s minions - The Murdochrats – have been assigned to keep the score. The public square is infested with neo-con charlatans who drown out dissenting voices with the monsterous mass media apparatus under their command – allowing the carcasses of tens of thousands of human beings to disappear before our eyes.

During his recent press conference, Bush kept on assuring his audience that he understands a whole bunch of things. He must have repeated it a hundred times. “I understand this” and “I understand that.”

It goes without saying that this shallowest of men makes his policy decisions to ‘stay the course’ based on his ‘understanding’ of events in Iraq. So, it is only fair to ask how he could possibly make rational judgments when he doesn’t even care to find out or comprehend the scale of violence that is the daily fruit of his criminal invasion of Iraq.

With media allies like Rupert Murdoch and CNN, Bush can be as inflexible and ‘misunderstanding’ as he wants to be.

Ahmed Amr is the editor of


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