We report the military casualties to the best of our abilities. We use press reports from the Coalition press office here in Baghdad. We use the Pentagon weekly release of the names, and we use independent press reports from embedded reporters here and local news agencies in the United States who are often the first to find out from the family when a death has occurred. I oversee the compilation of this material and cut and paste every document that crosses my desk into a book here. I write updated daily e-mails to our broadcasts about those deaths. Yes, there is a discrepancy between official numbers and those of certain media organizations, but that is the difference of 3 or 4 deaths, not hundreds. I consider this one of the most important jobs I do. So if you have information that more than 2,354 U.S. service men and women have died, I would like to know how you got that information.
Iraqi civilian deaths are quite a different matter. There are a number of groups that have tried to catalogue incidents and determine that number, but deaths during the battle are incomplete. Even the daily number of deaths reported due to insurgent violence and crime a not consistent or accurate.
You are wrong that we sit in the Green Zone. ABC NEWS has never been located inside the Green Zone. We remain in a neighborhood in Baghdad and travel out of a compound to report when we can. It is not safe for us to go to all neighborhoods, or for us to linger long on the streets, but we are out reporting. The increase in the number of cell phones has also made it easier to reach Iraqis for comment and clarification.
Our colleagues, Bob Woodruff and Doug Vogt, were both badly injured while on patrol with Iraqi troops trying to report the story on whether the local security forces are ready to take charge of keeping the peace. Our local cameraman was killed in a firefight covering the fighting in Fallujah. Many journalists are injured or threatened on a regular basis. We don't come here and dish out what we are told to say, hence the criticism we receive from all sides.
Ron Able from Avon Lake, Ohio: What is used as currency in Iraq right now? Is it widely used by all?
Answer: The currency used is the dinar. A new version has been in place for two years now. The old dinars had Saddam's picture on it and it is only used for souvenir collectors now. The value is approximately 1,450 dinars to one U.S. dollar though it tends to fluctuate between 1,200 and 1,600 over a yearlong period.
The Kurdish regions used to use their own dinars, but under the unified government the entire country now widely uses the same local currency. That said, anyone that can be paid in hard currency prefers to have dollars or euros or other fully convertible currencies.
Ramiz from Houston asks: If Iraq is filled with the world's second-largest oil reserves, where does the revenue from Iraq's most-abundant and in-demand natural resource go? Shouldn't Iraq be able to build its infrastructure using oil wealth similar to other oil-producing nations in the Middle East?
Answer: Consistent attacks on the pipelines and refineries have prevented the Iraqis from reaching their target export goals. It is just nearly impossible to protect the miles and miles of pipeline across vast unpopulated spaces. The oil industry, the electricity plants, and the water pumping stations have all been favorite targets of the insurgents.