Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Iraq: The Hidden Cost of War

"They roar in every day, usually direct from the Landstuhl US air-force base in the Rhineland: giant C-17 cargo planes capable of lifting and flying the 65-tonne M1 Abrams tank to battlefields anywhere in the world. But Landstuhl is the first staging post for transporting most of the American wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan back to the United States, and these planes act as CCATs ("critical care air transport") with their AETs - "aeromedical evacuation teams" of doctors, nurses and medical technicians, whose task is to make sure that gravely wounded US troops arrive alive and fit enough for intensive treatment at the Walter Reed Army Medical Centre, just six miles up the road from me in Washington.

"These days it is de rigueur for all politicians, ranging from President Bush and Ibrahim al-Jaafari (Iraq's "prime minister") to junior congressmen, to visit the 113-acre Walter Reed complex to pay tribute to the valour of horribly wounded soldiers. Last Christmas, the centre was so overwhelmed by the 500,000 cards and presents it received for wounded soldiers that it announced it could accept no more.

"Yet the story of the US wounded reveals yet another deception by the Bush administration, masking monumental miscalculations that will haunt generations to come. Thanks to the work of a Harvard professor and former Clinton administration economist named Linda Bilmes, and some other hard-working academics, we have discovered that the administration has been putting out two entirely separate and conflicting sets of numbers of those wounded in the wars.
Found on Juan Cole's Informed Comment

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