Tuesday, August 09, 2005

RALL RIGHT OR WRONG? In Ted Rall's August 8 comic-strip, the controversial cartoonist suggests that when you factor in Iraq war casualties who died after they left the country, the number of American dead climbs from 1,800 to 9,000.

He cites "internal Pentagon documents" but I haven't been able to turn up news articles mentioning any discrepancy. And his numbers are, to put it mildly, difficult to believe.

Am I missing some hidden satirical point? Is Rall exaggerating? Taking an awkward stab at a metaphor? Are his figures actually correct?

UPDATE: This Editor & Publisher story explains that Rall got his number from TBRNews.org.

That site includes a credulity-straining article--if you can even call it an "article"--about the discovery of mass graves of unreported US military dead in Iraq. It also features a link (one of only two on its "link" page) to this page, run by a publishing company that has more than a passing interest in Nazi memorabilia.

I wouldn't swear to it--at least not yet--but it appears that Rall was duped.

On his blog he says that he sourced the allegation independently, using "previously reliable informants" but that, "[I] ended up doing a cartoon that I wouldn't have done had I known then what I know now."

Still, Rall owes his readers an explanation: What did he learn that made him doubt his "previously reliable informants"? Why did he initially cite the TBRNews piece--which delivers no solid evidence to support its claim of a discrepancy?

(You can read the original TBRNews item here).

CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.