I once saw a professional debunker on television. His topic of the day was the Bermuda Triangle, in which ships have supposedly disappeared at a statistically improbable rate. He said that when they went about locating the Bermuda Triangle disappearances on a map, they had to get a much bigger map. Ships that had supposedly been lost in the Bermuda Triangle had actually been lost all over the world, and had been listed as Bermuda Triangle losses based on the most tenuous connections (for example, they were scheduled later to pass through the Caribbean Sea).
We may be starting to see a similar phenomenon with Iraq casualties. An Orlando Sentinel story under the banner “U.S. WAR CASUALTIES” reports the latest casualty, a Pfc. Howard A. Jones of Chicago. James Taranto uncovers that Jones was not killed in Iraq at all:
Pfc. Howard A. Jones, Jr., 35, of Chicago, died May 18 in Chicago from injuries sustained when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver while on leave from the Iraq theater of operations.
So being assigned to Iraq is now enough to classify a sadly commonplace death as a “U.S. WAR CASUALTY.”
To be sure, the Defense Department has to take some blame for issuing Jones’s name in a press release in the first place. Today’s media can’t be expected actually to read a press release before plugging it into their narrative. Still, the DoD has pulled their press release. (Taranto’s link has gone stale, and release 11946 no longer appears here.) The Orlando Sentinel however has yet to issue a correction.