There will be plenty of talk this month of Scooter Libby and Samuel Alito and all the intrigue of the nation's capital, but it would be wrong not to begin November here: The Iraq war, bumped off the front pages by storms and scandals and Supreme Court nominations, continues to claim the lives of too many Americans and too many Iraqis.
For U.S. troops, October was the deadliest month since January and the fourth deadliest month in the two and a half year-old war. Ninety-four Americans were killed in Iraq in October, including seven who died in IED attacks on Monday.
For Iraqis, reliable numbers are harder to come by, but a new Pentagon report says that 26,000 Iraqis have been killed since the start of 2004 alone. A Pentagon spokesman says the report represents "a kind of snapshot," and it's not a particularly pretty one. Although no one knows for sure, it appears that about two-thirds of the Iraqis killed in the war have been civilians. Worse still, the death rate is rising: The Pentagon found that Iraqis were killed at the rate of about 30 per day in the first half of 2004; since the first of 2005, they've been dying at the rate of about 50 per day.
Insurgents are responsible for many of those deaths. Coalition forces are responsible for many, too. The Newhouse News Service reports today that U.S. troops are using .50-caliber machine guns so much that the Army is scrambling to supply them with ammunition -- "in some cases dusting off crates of World War II machine gun rounds and shipping them off to combat units."