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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 October 2005, 23:31 GMT 00:31 UK
US media react to Iraq toll
US military chiefs called on news organisations not to look at the 2,000th death in Iraq as a milestone in the conflict, yet many reported it as a politically significant landmark.

A service for US troops killed in Iraq
The Pentagon says the 2,000th death in Iraq is an "artificial" mark

The online edition of the Washington Post carried a story that noted: "The grim milestone was reached at a time of growing disenchantment over the war among the American public toward a conflict that was launched to punish Iraqi President Saddam Hussein for his alleged weapons of mass destruction. None were ever found."

CNN.com set the occasion in the context of political progress in Iraq.

It said: "The war in Iraq saw two milestones Tuesday that reflect the country's path toward democracy and its human toll as officials said the referendum on a draft constitution passed and the number of US military deaths reached 2,000."

The Huffington Post blog carried a column by Paul Rieckhoff, a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Executive Director and Founder of Operation Truth, America's first and largest Iraq Veterans group.

'No end in sight'

He said the US public needs to hear more, not less about the fallen.

"The public needs to be more aware that, for our troops in harm's way, the situation has gotten more dangerous.

"But, it's tough to understand that when the casualty report consists of a tiny box at the bottom of the tenth page.

"Tomorrow, the 2,000 toll will be front page news. But the 2,001st, 2,002nd, 2,003rd, and so on deserve to be on the front page as well."

The Village Voice listed all 2,000 dead servicemen and women in an article headlined Village Voice, "2,000 Troops Dead and No End in Sight".

The Voice's correspondent Jarrett Murphy wrote: "Not all the 2,000 service members who have died in the Iraq war have been identified yet nor added to Pentagon statistics that describe the dead and how they perished.

"However, the most recent version of those numbers ... tells us something about the fallen.

"They were mostly white (73% of them) and fewer than 50 were women. More than half were younger than 24. California, Texas, Pennsylvania, and New York are the states that lost the most soldiers.

"But American Samoa, Vermont, the Virgin Islands, and North Dakota suffered the most deaths per capita."

'Tragic milestone'

Meanwhile, the blog site Newsbusters fired an early warning shot.

John Armor wrote: "Shortly, the 2,000th death of an American serviceman or woman will occur in Iraq. That will generate an orgy of coverage in the American press on how 'deadly' the war is.

"Sidebars will suggest that citizens are becoming "increasingly doubtful" about the conduct of the war. This Newsbusters article denounces that coverage as dishonest, in advance."

Citing the Iraq conflict as one of the least deadly US wars in history, he added: "In short, I condemn every reporter and every editor in every media source of all types who reports on the 2,000th American military death in Iraq as professionally incompetent, if they do not put those deaths in context with other American wars. "

Yet, in politics, the figures were viewed as a landmark.

MSNBC Online's report noted: "Minutes after the 2000th death was reported, the Democratic National Committee issued a news release calling the announcement a 'tragic milestone'.

"The Senate scheduled a moment of silence on the Senate floor, led by Senator Harry Reid, D-Nev, honouring fallen soldiers."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
How news of the 2,000th death was broken in the US



SEE ALSO:
Bush's passionate defence of Iraq
06 Oct 05 |  Americas
US comes to grips with 1,500 dead
04 Mar 05 |  Americas
Iraq deaths pose risks for Bush
08 Sep 04 |  Middle East


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