Friday, February 14
What About the Death Toll?
Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe, February 14, 2003
BETH OSBORNE DAPONTE is concerned that the White House has not told Americans how it will avoid massive deaths to civilians in an invasion of Iraq. Her concern should be alarming. Daponte was the woman who a decade ago was nearly fired by the government for her estimates on the Iraqi civilian death toll in the first Gulf War. ''Right now, it's just like it was in 1991,'' Daponte said by telephone. ''People were sold on the idea of clean war.''
Daponte showed how dirty the first war really was. She was an analyst in the Census Bureau's international division, whose normal job is to estimate the populations of other nations. Up until then, the senior President Bush, Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, and the Pentagon refused to make any public estimates of the Iraqi dead.
Daponte, a Middle East analyst, was assigned to come up with an estimate. She estimated that a total of 158,000 Iraqis were killed, with only 40,000 of them being soldiers in battle. The far greater death toll came afterward; Daponte estimated that 70,000 Iraqis died through easily preventable diseases that were suddenly made lingering and lethal by the bombing by the United States and its allies of water and power supplies, sewage systems, and roads.[...]