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Freedom of Information Act request: 35,000 pages on Iraqi & Afghan casualties October 16, 2010

Posted by dissident93 in Iraq mortality.

“We have summarised and released over 35,000 pages of records. We currently have one more set of documents we are working to summarise.”Nasrina Bargzie (attorney, for ACLU)

Perhaps this is how Full Employment can be achieved: declare everything of international importance secret. The amount of work required to request its release (via Freedom of Information Act), to legally demand it (when denied), and then to unravel, interpret and publish (in a form that’s understandable), etc, would surely keep the world’s “unemployed” in work for decades.

Of course, the work ends up being done by volunteer groups dependent on donations – eg Amercian Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Iraq Body Count (IBC).

So, over 35,000 pages of internal US government documents on civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan – released following ACLU-initiated Freedom of Information Act requests, lawsuit and lengthy negotiations. Records which should always have been in the public domain. The latest batch of records was released by ACLU earlier this year. IBC has been working to integrate the records on Iraqi civilian deaths into its database since the first release in 2007.

A separate FOIA request by Professor Michael Spagat (of Royal Holloway University) led to the release of another set of data on civilian casualties (Basra police records held by the UK Ministry of Defence). This has also been integrated into the IBC database. (There’s a misconception in some circles that IBC excludes casualties which aren’t reported in “Western” media. In fact, IBC has used data from NGOs, Iraqi hospitals and morgues, records obtained from UK and US governments using FOIA requests – and non-“Western” media).

Unrelated: I’ve written a new piece for The Comment Factory: Counterproductive antiwar arguments.