“Is that any way to fight a war?”

“Am I mad that not one of the top three Democratic runners will commit to a complete pullout (from Iraq) by 2013.”

So started a fiery set of remarks by the legendary Helen Thomas, now 90 years old but still holding government officials and bureaucrats accountable for their actions. Speaking to the national convention of the Society of Professional Journalists, Thomas, who now reports for the Washington bureau of Hearst Newspapers, exuded an urgency when she spoke of the need for young journalists to question why we are in Iraq as this has now become the war they will inherit.

Thomas believes the administration is reporting the war stateside as an abstract numbers game — so many killed in an IED explosion or so many troops might be recalled following a surge of so many numbers of others. Thus, when she calls the Pentagon and ask for the number of Americans dead, the brass will give Thomas that figure. And when she asks for the number of soldiers wounded, they reluctantly give her those figures.

But when she asks for the number of Iraqi dead, she is told, “We don’t track them. They don’t count.” When Thomas asks for a rationale as to why they don’t count, and refuses to accept that as a reasonable answer, she is instructed to phone back.

Two hours later, Thomas reaches the same Pentagon spokesman. What, she repeats, is the rationale for not releasing the number of Iraqi dead? “Our policy is not to kill,” she’s told. “But if they resist, they don’t count.”

“Is that any way to fight a war?” she asks.

3 thoughts on ““Is that any way to fight a war?”

  1. bbenidt says:

    “Where’s the outrage?” This used to be Bob Dole’s line, if I remember correctly, about Bill Clinton and the sins of the left.

    It seems journalists have become numbed by governments — both Democratic and Republican — handing out bullshit and calling it information. We need more hellraisers like Helen Thomas, but we need them calling bullshit bullshit in the news conference and in their reports, not just in speeches to professional groups.

  2. Dr. Ruth says:

    Helen Thomas, now 90 years old but still holding government officials and bureaucrats accountable for their actions.

    That senile old bat is an activist not a reporter. “Holding government officials and bureaucrats accountable” is the job of the public – not journalists.

  3. EMM says:

    You know, I met and spoke with Helen Thomas last week and found her neither to be senile nor a bat. She is old — 90 years old. But she gets up every morning at 5:30 and by the time she gets to work, she has already read the New York Times and the Washington Post.

    I admire her guts in questioning authority. After all, she, also, is a citizen as well as a member of a profession that tries to keep government transparent so fine members of the public will have the information they need when it’s time for them (not) to vote. Long live Helen Thomas.

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