Which War Are They Watching?

An alert reader points us to a Reuters story today about the deaths of four soldiers in Iraq. According to the piece, “[t]he deaths take to 545 the number of U.S. troops killed since the U.S. invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein.”

We’re not completely sure where the 545 figure came from, but, according to the latest figures, 755 American soldiers — not 545 — have been killed in Iraq. Perhaps Reuters was following the lead of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who recently mistakenly estimated the number of American casualties at “approximately 500.” Perhaps the agency was trying to relay the number of troops killed since President Bush announced the end of major combat on May 1, 2003, which this article puts at 545. Or perhaps it was trying to tally deaths by hostile fire, which presently stand at approximately 557.

We understand that small mistakes in the day-to-day reporting of troop casualties are inevitable. But, at a time that the growing death toll in Iraq has become a campaign issue, for a major news outlet like Reuters to underestimate American deaths by roughly 30 percent is inexcusable.

Brian Montopoli

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Brian Montopoli is a writer at CJR Daily.