The Iraqis are learning

As a U.S. congressman fires investigators, the Iraqi prime minister puts the lid on mortality data.

Published October 20, 2006 2:06PM (EDT)

Who says Iraq can't have an American-style democracy? As the Washington Post reports this morning, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered his country's health ministries to stop providing the United Nations with information on the number of Iraqis killed in the war. Under the new policy -- which comes on the heels of a study suggesting that 650,000 Iraqis may have died as a result of the war -- any mortality numbers to be released will have to be filtered through Maliki's communications office first. Iraq's acting U.N. ambassador tells the Post that he hadn't heard of the order, "so I don't know what the rationale for it is."

What's that got to do with American-style democracy?

Well, there's this and this and this. And then there's this: GOP Rep. Jerry Lewis, himself reportedly the subject of a federal investigation spinning out of the Randy "Duke" Cunningham case, has rather abruptly dismissed 60 investigators working for his House Appropriations Committee. One of the investigators, a former FBI agent, says Lewis' decision "has in fact stalled all of the investigations on the staff" and "eviscerates the investigatory function." "There is little if any ability to do any oversight now," he said.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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