Counting Lesson

Tom Engelhardt’s counting lesson (also available from Mother Jones) is very instructive. It is about counting in public or not. He quotes for instance General Tommy Franks:

“We don’t do body counts.” (from “How Many Iraqis Died? We May Never Know”, San Francisco Chronicle, May 3 2003)

And then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld:

“We have a room here [in the Pentagon], the Iraq Room where we track a whole series of metrics. Some of them are inputs and some of them are outputs, results, and obviously the inputs are easier to do and less important, and the outputs are vastly more important and more difficult to do. We track, for example, the numbers of attacks by area. We track the types of attacks by area […]. [W]e track a number of reports of intimidation, attempts at intimidation or assassination of government officials, for example. We track the extent to which people are supplying intelligence to our people so that they can go in and actually track down and capture or kill insurgents. We try to desegregate the people we’ve captured and look at what they are. Are they foreign fighters, Jihadist types? Are they criminals who were paid money to go do something like that? Are they former regime elements, Ba’athists? And we try to keep track of what those numbers are in terms of detainees and people that are processed in that way […]. We probably look at 50, 60, 70 different types of metrics, and come away with them with an impression.” (from Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with National Public Radio’s Steve Inskeep for ‘Morning Edition'”, DefenseLink News Transcript, March 29 2005)

Well, Tom Engelhardt’s piece is titled “We Count, They Don’t”, and it includes other hints about how “they” count or not (in public) all sorts of war-related things.


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