“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.