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The Bush admin has thought of a nice, convenient new way to reduce bad PR on Iraq. Just stop counting civilian dead. USA Today:

Iraq’s Health Ministry has ordered a halt to a count of civilians killed during the war and told its statistics department not to release figures compiled so far, the official who oversaw the count told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The health minister, Dr. Khodeir Abbas, denied in an email that he had anything to do with the order, saying he didn’t even know about the study.

Dr. Nagham Mohsen, the head of the ministry’s statistics department, said the order was relayed to her by the ministry’s director of planning, Dr. Nazar Shabandar, who said it came on behalf of Abbas. She said the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, which oversees the ministry, also wanted the counting to stop.

The ministry began its survey at the end of July, when shaky nationwide communication links began to improve. It sent letters to all hospitals and clinics in Iraq, asking them to send back details of civilians killed or wounded in the war.

Many hospitals responded with statistics, Mohsen said, but last month Shabander summoned her and told her that Abbas wanted the count halted. He also told her not to release the partial information she had already collected, she said.

“He told me, ‘You should move far away from this subject,'” Mohsen said. “I don’t know why.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding