What Price Slaughter?

Despite the relatively small amounts paid out in Iraq, total official payments for wrongful deaths, as well as for injury and collateral property damage, caused by American troops, had reached $20 million by the end of 2005. The figure now stands minimally at $32 million — and that figure is considered low because similar payments are made unofficially “at a unit commander’s discretion.” (For purposes of comparison, the total September 11th payout figure was in the range of $7 billion.)

We don’t know the actual average amount paid out in Iraq today, but if you were to take an obviously high figure like $5,000 and divide it into $32 million, the low total figure we have for such “consolation payments,” you would have some 6,400 “incidents” (not all deaths, although some payments are made for multiple deaths). It’s a striking figure, especially when you consider that these are just for cases in which an Iraqi actually applied to the American occupation forces and was accepted for compensation. It gives you some crude indication of just how high the death toll has really been in Iraq. That $32 million for officially recorded “consolation payments,” by the way, would add up to just under 18 average payments for deaths (or injuries) at the World Trade Center.

Tom Engelhardt | TomDispatch.com