Counting Coup

A letter to The Washington Post:

In over 1,100 words on civilian casualties in Iraq, Ellen Knickmeyer disposes of those killed by coalition bombing and other operations in less than 50. While the Iraqi Interior Ministry has attributed 12,000 deaths to the acts of insurgents, the low estimates for total civilian deaths since the beginning of the war are twice that, and the high estimate is 100,000. Because the “U.S. military says it does not keep a comprehensive tally of people it has killed in combat,” there’s no way to know whether that number is merely equal to or many times greater than the thousands killed by insurgents. If members of the administration are anticipating that the public will turn against the insurgents because they’re killing so many people, wouldn’t it be important to know whether or not the coalition is killing more than the insurgents?