With this issue, we begin running a weekly tally of the casualties being suffered in Iraq by Americans, our allies and the Iraqi people (see "Iraq War Toll"). It is a humbling set of numbers: more than 30,000 Americans killed or injured, hundreds more of our allies killed, and tens of thousands of Iraqis, mostly civilians, dead—no one is sure how many. There's evidence it's worse than we could have imagined: A new study published in the British medical journal Lancet by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University based on data gathered by Iraqi physicians concludes that "655,000 more people have died in Iraq since coalition forces arrived in March 2003 than would have died if the invasion had not occurred," The Washington Post reports.
Meanwhile, a president incapable of recognizing truth or evidence of error vetoes a timetable for withdrawal that reflects the will of not only a majority of the nation's elected representatives, but a majority of its people. Instead, thousands of U.S. troops continue arriving in Iraq as former and current generals acknowledge there is no military solution to the terrorism, sectarian violence and civil war we instigated there.
To capture the price of the president's intransigence, we also track the number of Americans who have died since the veto.
Instead of a united effort to solve the staggering global problem this administration has created, our leaders are scrambling to ascribe blame to each other. Most repulsive is former CIA Director George Tenet, who wants to have it every way but one: He shares the blame. In his $4 million memoir At the Center of the Storm, he says alternately there were signs that Saddam Hussein had connections to al Qaeda, but that when a briefer from the office of Douglas Feith, whose job it was to sell the connection, said 9/11 hijacker Momamed Atta met with an Iraqi agent in Prague, "What I was really thinking was, this is complete crap...." Tenet sat behind Secretary of State Colin Powell at the U.N. when he knew Powell's information was wrong. He says he knew evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was weak. He says he never spoke up because he's not a policy maker—just someone who met with the president six days a week. He says he thought twice about accepting the nation's Medal of Freedom, but did it anyway.
"By your silence," wrote six former CIA officials in response, "you helped build the case for war. You betrayed the CIA officers who collected the intelligence that made it clear that Saddam did not pose an imminent threat. You betrayed the analysts who tried to withstand the pressure applied by Cheney and Rumsfeld."
That can be said for anyone who did not speak out or ask questions about what was clearly a dogmatic drive to war. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people are dead, and more will die.