Friday, January 18, 2008

New Information On Iraqi Death Study Met With Silence

Remember that 2006 study published by the British medical journal Lancet that stated that 654,965 Iraqi citizens have died since the U.S.-lead war started? Remember the huge hostile response it got from anti-war critics and the massive media coverage it generated?

So where is that now, when it turns out that shoddy data collection and bias created this infamous report?

Many critics of the study have attacked the unknown methods used to determine the Iraqi dead, according to a recent National Journal article. For a long time now researchers have questioned just how accurate the method of collecting the information really is and a few have pondered if the study was faked. These legitimate arguments and concerns can be found throughout the National Journal article and the blogosphere.

But what is really compelling is how many of the media, especially the anti-war crowd, has used the nearly 655,000 deaths as the gospel truth and how many non-media groups have been using the lost Iraqis as a soapbox for their own agendas.

Now, common sense says that if 654,965 was the actual number of Iraqis killed since the start of the war and not a reflection of the survey the authors did for the study, then we would have heard holy hell from these groups a long time ago. Just think: If at least 655,000 Iraqis died from 2003 to 2006, that means more then 18,000 innocent Iraqi citizens would have died every month for three years!

And after two months of war, no one even mentions that more than 36,000 people have been killed? It seems hard to believe that after the numerous protest marches during the first year of the war that no one mentioned or reported this horrific death toll until the study was published in 2006.

Even Iraq Body Count, which has opposed the war, has problems with the figure that study authors came up with. The group has said at the time of the release of the study that 45,000 Iraqis have died. And the group actually gets that number from calling morgues, cross-checking facts from media reports, as opposed to going into a few neighborhoods that have a strong anti-American bias or stuffing $20,000 down their money belt and shoes, as the National Journal reported that study authors actually did.

But while many Bush critics have accused the president of lying about the reasons for getting into the war and how they want truth and honesty from the Commander and Chief, these same people either don’t know or don’t care about the bias in this study.

For example, while the authors of the study states: “We declare that we have no conflict of interest,” they fail to mention that anti-Bush critic George SorosOpen Society Institute helped fund the study, as reported the National Journal. In addition, the publication reported that one of the authors of the controversial study, Les Roberts, ran as a Democrat for the U.S. House of Representatives seat of the 24th Congressional District in New York and has stated he was against the Iraq war.

So, let’s put a little spin on this. Let’s say that Vice President Dick Cheney’s old company Halliburton partly funded a study that said only 200 Iraqi citizens have died because of the war and that one of the authors ran for office as a Republican and was a supporter of the war. Hollywood actor Sean Penn and every other critic of the war would be screaming bloody murder about this and so would I. And you can bet your bottom dollar that the media would take a renewed interest on this subject.

But instead, we only have silence from those who gave such grand attention to this study that caught the world’s keen interest. Whether nearly 655,000 or 45,000 Iraqis were killed, either number is far too high and shows what the insurgents and terrorists are capable of. But let’s add two more casualties to the list: Objectivity and fairness.