The Uncounted: New York Times Finds US Airstrikes Kill Far More Iraqi Civilians Than Pentagon Admits
We spend the hour looking at a damning new report that reveals how U.S.-led airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq have killed far more civilians than officials have acknowledged. The coalition’s own data shows 89 of its more than 14,000 airstrikes in Iraq have resulted in civilian deaths, or about one of every 157 strikes. But their an on-the-ground investigation by The New York Times magazine found civilian deaths in “one out of every five” strikes. We are joined by the two reporters who co-authored this investigation titled “The Uncounted.” Azmat Khan is an investigative journalist and a Future of War fellow at New America and Arizona State University; and Anand Gopal is a reporter and an assistant research professor at Arizona State University. A civilian survivor who lost his family and home to a 2015 U.S. airstrike in Mosul, Basim Razzo, also joins us from Erbil, Iraq.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, Democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We are spending the hour looking at a New York Times investigation that reveals many of the American-led airstrikes against Islamic State militants actually killed civilians. One of the survivors the reporters interviewed, Basim Razzo, described a coalition airstrike on his home in Mosul, Iraq in 2015 in which his wife, daughter, brother, and nephew were killed. Video of the strike on his home shows a target hit with military precision.
AMY GOODMAN: Basim Razzo is just joining us, and you’ve heard a part of his story in our last segment as he speaks to us from Erbil, Iraq, via Democracy Now! video stream. And we’re joined in our New York studio by the two reporters who co-authored the New York Times investigation headlined The Uncounted.... It was the cover of The New York Times Magazine this past Sunday.
Azmat Khan, investigative journalist and a Future of War fellow at New America and Arizona State University, and Anand Gopal, assistant research professor at Arizona State University, and the author of the book No Good Men Among the Living. Azmat Khan, talk about the U.S. figures for how many civilians have died, how many airstrikes, how many civilians killed, and then what you found.
AZMAT KHAN: So, the coalition, which is led by the United States, releases monthly civilian casualty figures. Our analysis of them shows that they have admitted to 466 Iraqi civilian deaths in 89 airstrikes. This is of more than 14,000 that they have carried out in Iraq, which is an incident rate of 0.6 percent. Less than one percent. What we found…
AMY GOODMAN: Less than 1 percent civilian killed.
AZMAT KHAN: Less than one percent, exactly—0.6 percent. What we found is that one in five airstrikes, or 31 times as high, resulted in civilian death.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And your analysis is based not obviously on all the 14,000, but you investigated about 103 separate incidents. Because 14,000 over roughly a four-year period, we’re talking about 100 airstrikes a day on average that were occurring in Iraq in this war against ISIS.