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Body Counts Count
Seems like an article on US casualties in Iraq ("The Bodies Come Home," by Sydney H. Schanberg, Dec. 31) ought to contain a number, or a number of numbers. Here's what I got in a few minutes.

1. Iraqi civilians. As of Friday, 26 December 2003, reported minimum 7960, reported maximum 9792. (http://www.iraqbodycount.net/bodycount.htm)

2. Total US casualties. As of Friday, December 27, 2003, 471 US service members have died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq, according to the Defense Department. Of those, 323 died as a result of hostile action and 148 died of non-hostile causes. (http://www.startribune.com/stories/484/4288706.html)

3. Your search -- "total Iraqi army casualties" -- did not match any documents. (http://www.ccmep.org/2003_articles/Iraq/042203_what_happened_to_iraqs_army.htm)

From Salon: snip "The whole issue of Iraqi soldiers -- how many died or were wounded, how many deserted or fought to the end, where they are now -- is surrounded by a veil of secrecy. Neither the US forces in Iraq nor the Iraqis themselves seem to be willing to delve into it too deep."

Facts ought to know no loyalties. Reliable numbers tell a big part of the story. Articles about casualties should include numbers, even if readers are intelligent enough to know that numbers don't tell the whole story.

-- Russ Newsom, Charlotte

My Sweet Lady Jane
While I very much enjoyed David Walters' reminiscences concerning his school days in Southwestern England and the associated references to Tudor monarchial and ecclesiastical history ("Lessons from Old Stones," Dec. 24), the nitpicker in me can't resist pointing out a minor howler in his reference to the career of "Bloody Mary." While she did indeed have the blood of many hundreds on her hands, Jane Seymour was not, and could not have been, one of them, for Jane died shortly after giving birth to Mary's half-brother, the future Edward VI, in 1537, some 16 years before Mary herself came to the throne. (I believe Mr. Walters was instead thinking of Mary's unfortunate cousin, Lady Jane Grey.)

-- Bill Robbins, Charlotte

Capture Doesn't Make It Right
The capture of Saddam Hussein in no way justifies the preemptive war of aggression against Iraq. The war was illegal and his capture doesn't make everything right and just.

Iraq and Hussein were never a threat to America, and never attacked us. No WMDs have been found, no Al-Qaida link, no link to the terrorist events of 9/11 and surely never a real threat to the American people. Yes, Hussein was a corrupt dictator, and now the people of Iraq need to try him for his crimes. But this doesn't excuse the illegal invasion of Iraq or justify the occupation.

The so-called "war on terror" has lost focus with the face of Osama bin Laden being morphed into that of Saddam Hussein. (Perhaps a name change is in order: "Osaddama bin Husseiden", might cover it.) Today we must ask ourselves, "Do we feel any more safe than we did before the capture of Saddam?" If your answer is, yes, then you must live in a world that fears mythical creatures like "the bogeyman."

-- Jibril Hough, Pres., Islamic Political Party of America, Charlotte Chapter

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