Look it up

This has been quite a week. President Bush signed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, authorizing torture and trashing habeas corpus. On the same day, U.S. casualties spiked in Iraq, where Bush and his cronies started a war under false pretenses, and where torture has been–and seems destined to be–used by U.S. forces against Iraqis. And, a National Intelligence Estimate says that

The Iraq conflict has become the “cause celebre” for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement.

While gathering the three links above, I noticed something interesting about the way our government disseminates information. Legislation is easy to find on the Library of Congress’ THOMAS system. That National Intelligence Estimate wasn’t hard to google (it’s even easier if you have the full title: “Declassified Key Judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States dated April 2006”). For the casualty reports, just go to www.defenselink.mil and select the link labeled Casualty Reports. What could be easier?

But wait… DefenseLINK only publishes the current total number of casualties. It’s good about archiving other stuff, so why aren’t the past casualty reports kept online?

You need the past reports if you’re interested in trends. Is the rate of casualties increasing or decreasing? You can’t figure that out just by looking at DefenseLINK. Fortunately, volunteer sites like Iraq Coalition Casualties track that kind of stuff, allowing you to look at the data by month and day.

Now, why wouldn’t the Department of Defense want to give you those options? A cynic would say it’s because they don’t want you tracking trends. Mmmyep. That’s what a cynic would say.

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