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Study by U.S. Professor Claims 3,500 Afghan Civilians Killed by American Bombs and Missiles

Mass Media Completely Ignores Findings

December 11, 2001

I've previously criticized the U.S. mass media for ignoring many credible accounts of civilian casualties reported in the foreign press, and more importantly, for failing to conduct any systematic investigation of the entire bombing campaign in Afghanistan to determine and evaluate the overall extent of civilian deaths and injuries caused by U.S. bombs and missiles.

Yesterday Marc W. Herold, Professor of
Economics, International Relations, and Women's Studies at the University of New Hampshire, released a study which shows that U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan have killed more than 3,500 civilians.  [The data is available here.]

Professor Herold compiled his data from "British, Canadian, and Australian newspapers; Indian newspapers, especially The Times of India; three Pakistani daily newspapers; the Singapore News; Afghan Islamic Press; Agence France Press; Pakistan News Service; Reuters; BBC News Online; Al Jazeera; and a variety of other reputable sources, including the United Nations and other relief agencies."

I obviously cannot personally vouch for the accuracy of Professor Herold's figures.  But two things are clear:

First, since the U.S. suffered, at latest estimate, 3,300 killed on September 11, and we have at least 11 times the population of Afghanistan, 300 civilian deaths in Afghanistan would be proportionally equivalent to the U.S. death toll.  So even if Professor Herold's figures are off -- indeed, even if they are off by as much as 10 times -- the impoverished, war-ravaged Afghan population has already suffered at least a WTC-level of mass murder from U.S. bombing.  Of course, to the extent the study is accurate, the U.S. has inflicted the equivalent of up to 10 WTC death tolls on the people of Afghanistan.

Second, the U.S. mass media are deliberately ignoring this study.  Indeed, The Washington Post chose today to run a story with the opposite implication, at least as applied to one Afghan city: "Kandahar Bombs Hit Their Marks , Few Civilian Deaths Evident."

Is the press afraid to report this study because doing so would anger the Bush administration?

Does reporting this study not appeal to the media because they would then have an obligation to expend time and resources to check its accuracy?

The mass media in this country has truly abnegated its obligation to accurately report the news, let alone be a watchdog over the government.  The media seem content to merely play a cheerleading role in this aspect of the war on terrorism.  And the American public has been left dangerously uninformed as the result.

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

More on Civilian Casualties

UPDATE: In June, 2002 a Los Angeles Times study put the number of civilian deaths at between 1067 and 1201 through the time period ending February 2002, in 194 incidents.  A New York Times study published in July, 2002 found 400 civilian deaths in just the 11 incidents which this "newspaper of record" chose to examine.  Professor Herold's August 8, 2002 article from The Guardian reviews these two studies as well as five others.  There, he said he now believes total civilian deaths from U.S. military strikes were between 3,125 and 3,620.  Professor Herold also wrote a longer, more detailed article for online publication August 20, 2002.  

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