Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dead Men Speak Volumes

Making sense of US and UK announcements of casualty figures in Iraq or Afghanistan is not always straightforward. For example, the US government openly says that it may not reveal information about those killed or wounded in say, the Green Zone, for "security" reasons. In some ways, it makes sense, revealing the names of civilian war profiteers, mercenary contractors, and local collaborators who die or are wounded in the green zone is tainting. Somewhere deep down inside, most of these people probably feel burdened by the shame of what they are doing.

But even if names are not always available, and the coalition forces are not always forthcoming, every now and again, random news of deaths inside and outside of the green zone raises questions that the US and the UK would rather avoid at all cost. For example, what was this man doing in Baghdad? Is it not the case, as the article itself notes, that British forces are officially not involved in combat operations inside Iraq? So it bears repeating again, what was this UK SAS soldier doing, carrying out a "a covert operation in the Baghdad area" , if the British are supposed to be holed up in their base in Basra?

What else have the British been doing covertly in Iraq, that when they are caught red-handed, the UK sends helicopters and tanks to bust them out of prison?

One day the stories of these covert operations will trickle out, and when it does, the people involved will be shivering like those in the green zone, and like them, they will be more afraid of the shame of their names being revealed than the prospect of dying.