Two years later

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(Host) In remembrance of the September Eleventh attacks two years ago, commentator Bill Seamans takes stock of where we stand today in the war on terror.

(Seamans) As the people this week reflect on the September Eleven tragedy that wracked the nation little did we realize then that two years later we would again be losing more American lives almost every day to terrorists – this time in the guerilla war in Iraq.

Terrorism as we have witnessed here at home exalts inhuman violence. Its aim is to weaken the will of a civilized society to defend itself. Thus in Iraq the ambush killing of our troops is a deliberate campaign to drive Americans out of the country. And two years later we have another casualty toll that is growing into a major political problem for President Bush.

For every serviceperson killed usually several others with him/or her are severely wounded. The number of those wounded, according to the Washington Post, is one of the untold stories of the war so far. The Post is the first and only news source I’ve seen up to now that has told the wounded story with the dimension it deserves.

The Post said that an average of ten Americans a day are being officially declared wounded in action – more then eleven-hundred since the war began in March. The number of wounded has grown so large that the U.S. Central Command usually issues news releases that list wounded in action only when they are victims of the same attacks in which one or more other troops are killed. The result, says the Washington Post, is that many wounded G.I.’s go unreported – just how many more is now a matter of conjecture.

This then is an example of how the Pentagon’s withholding from the public information of an unclassified nature can create a backlash of uninformed rumor and speculation. If, as alleged, we the people are not being told the accurate total number of American troops that have been wounded, Bush’s critics could accuse him of covering up the total number of wounded for political reasons.

In his prime-time address Sunday night, President Bush said defeating terrorists in Iraq “will take time and require sacrifice.” Now, those are two very significant words – Time and Sacrifice. Taking time means that more and more young Americans will be killed or wounded. We will see what they have sacrificed when they return home. The severely wounded new veterans will become a constant reminder of the cost of the Iraq war in human terms. They will be seen every day around town trying to build the new lives their suffering and personal loss have imposed on them.

If the American casualty toll in Iraq keeps climbing during the coming year leading up to Presidential Election Day, then Mr. Bush will have an enormous political burden – much larger than the one he bears now – to justify the sacrifices imposed on our young service people.

This is Bill Seamans

Award-winning journalist Bill Seamans is a former correspondent and Bureau Chief for ABC News in the Middle East. He spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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