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[ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ] Dear all Some time ago (December 18, 2003 ) I posted a mailing which drew attention to the Prime Minister's claim - posted on his website (http://www.number-10.gov.uk) under the heading 'PM: Shadow of Saddam lifted of Iraq' - that the remains of 400,000 bodeis have already been uncovered in mass graves in Iraq. This is quoted in a document recently published by USAID (Iraq's Legacy of Terror - Mass Graves) and posted on the CPA website (what this has to do with USAID is also a bit of a mystery). There we read that '"We've already discovered just so far the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves," said British Prime Minister Tony Blair on November 20 in London. In his recent speech the Prime Minister informed us that the remains of 300,000 bodies have already been found in mass graves in Iraq. Something seems in the interim to have happened to the remains of 100,000 people. Radio Free Europe, which I follow for my sins, reported the publication of the USAID document as follows: 'The press release states that some 270 mass graves have been uncovered in Iraq since the fall of the Hussein regime in May.' The document itself - which is a very slight affair - says that 'Since the Saddam Hussein regime was overthrown in May, 270 mass graves have been reported'. Not 'uncovered'. I don't know if RFE account of the contents of the press statement is accurate. This figure has been around for quite a while. In my December mailing I give it as the 'usual' figure, so it seems none have been reported since. That mailing went on to quote an article, not at all unfavourable to the CPA, which said ''After seven months of work, the (CPA) team has confirmed 41 mass graves across the length and breadth of Iraq.' So there we had 270 reported, 41 confirmed (the USAID document opens with a map of 'Locations of first mass grave discovered in Iraq. It shows eight, of which five are 'suspected' mass graves). If you get all the way to page 4 of USAID's slim volume, however, you read 'so far, 270 suspected mass grave sites have been found (note this - PB) by Iraqis, the CPA, and the US Army's criminal Investigative Division. However, in some cases, mass grave reports have turned out to be either simply old cemetries, or falsely reported to attract attention or to obtain funds.' Leaving us wondering what on earth the compilers think the 270 figure is referring to. Perhaps 270 sites that have been reported and investigated ('found') with many of them turning out to be old cemeteries etc but still included in the 270 to make it look good. What is amazing is that this should be so tacky, given the appalling importance of the question. And that so little should be being done to get at the truth. As I pointed out in December, when the Iraq Survey Group was announced, uncovering evidence of Saddam's crimes was supposed to be its main role. I was left with the impression that 1,000 people would be devoted to uncovering crimes, while 500 would be looking for weapons. In the event they were all looking for weapons. And now USAID tells us that a team of 40 'international investigators' will be looking at mass graves - this after telling us how difficult and slow and urgent it is. Difficult, slow, urgent seems to me to add up to the need for a big team, bigger than 40. But further down the page (where we are once again informed as if it is new information that 'The CPA's office of Human Rights and Transitional Justice has compiled a list of 270 suspected sites across the country') we are told that 'The team of 20-30 people will need living accomodations for four to six weeks).' Are we supposed to think that our Prime Minister and the compilers of this report are taking this question seriously? Peter _______________________________________ Sent via the CASI-analysis mailing list To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-analysis All postings are archived on CASI's website at http://www.casi.org.uk