It was originally planned as "a low-key classroom discussion about patriotism and service to country" at Forest Lake High School in Minnesota. But when the Republican Party-associated pro-Iraq war group Vets for Freedom "decided to call a press conference at the school and alerted media," things got heated.
Kelly Dougherty, the former sergeant who is the executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), announced on March 13th the start of the group's three-day Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan investigation into the United States' conduct of its wars, featuring testimony of scores of anti-war vetera
It's one of the most controversial questions today: How many Iraqis have died since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion?
That there is no definitive answer should not come as a surprise, given the chaotic situation in Iraq. Still, it's an important question to ask, for obvious humanitarian, moral and political reasons.
Theoretically, the public health surveys and polls that have been conducted in Iraq -- at great risk to the people involved -- should help inform and further the debate. But the data is complicated by different research approaches and their attendant caveats. The matter has been further confused by anemic reporting, with news articles usually framed as a "he said / she said" story, instead of an exploration and interpretation of research findings.
These are the conditions under which spin thrives: complex issues, political interests and weak reporting. So it's not too surprising that last month saw a spate of what international health researcher Dr. Richard Garfield calls "Swift Boat editorials."
Want to earn up to $2.4 million to produce and distribute across Iraq 12 issues of a comic book designed to "highlight the professionalism of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) and to enhance the public perception of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) as a capable, well-trained, and professional fighting force"? Well, you'll have to compete with the Lincoln Group, the PR firm that previously placed U.S.