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Iraq's Deadly Germs

As anyone who's ever read Guns, Germs, and Steel will tell you, bacteria and viruses have long been a part of combat -- some times, the nastiest part. During the waning days of World War I, the flu sent 70,000 American troops to the hospital; one-third never recovered. In the Civil War, twice as many troops died from disease as from gunshots.FF_132_enemy3_f.jpgToday's problems aren't nearly so severe, in comparison. Since th invasion of Iraq, "more than 700 US soldiers have been infected or colonized with [the bacteria] Acinetobacter baumannii," Steve Silberman reports in the current Wired magazine. "The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology has recorded seven deaths caused by the bacteria in US hospitals along the evacuation chain."But it's the way that the American military officials have dealt with the bug's release that's particularly disturbing. "For a long time, the DoD claimed that the bacteria... was a naturally occurring organism in the Iraqi soil that infected soldiers when they were wounded by IEDs," Silberman tels Defense Tech. "As you'll see, this is not the case, and the DoD has known the true source of the infections -- the combat support hospitals in Iraq themselves -- for over a year and a half."One marine's mom was told her son died of "injuries as a result of enemy action." Turned out, it was Acinetobacter, instead.Now, this isn't the first time the military has mislead families about how their kin were killed. Pat Tillman is probably the most famous example of this in recent years. First, the Tillmans were told he died from enemy fire; then, from friendly; now, murder isn't being ruled out. But there are many, many others. The question is: Why lie?(Big ups: XJ)

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