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Unreported Iraqi war deaths revealed by Wikileaks are only the tip of an iceberg.


By NicolasDavies - Posted on 24 October 2010

The documents on the U.S. War in Iraq published by Wikileaks contained data on 15,000 Iraqis killed in incidents that were previously unreported in the Western media or by the Iraqi Health Ministry, and therefore not counted in compilations of reported Iraqi war deaths by Iraqbodycount.org. The Western media are dutifully adding these 15,000 deaths to their so-called "estimates" of the total numbers of Iraqis killed in the war. This is deceptive. What the unreported deaths really demonstrate is that the passive methodology of these body counts is a woefully inadequate way to try and estimate the number of deaths in a war zone. These 15,000 deaths are only the tip of an iceberg of hundreds of thousands of unreported Iraqi deaths that have already been detected by more serious and scientific epidemiological studies, but the U.S. and British governments have successfully suppressed these studies by confusing the media and the public about their methods and accuracy.

There is nothing unusual about such large numbers of deaths being unreported in a war-zone. It bears out the experience of epidemiologists working in war-zones around the world that "passive reporting" of war deaths generally only captures between 5% and 20% of the total number of actual deaths. This is partly a result of the changed nature of modern war. About 86% of the people killed in the First World War were uniformed combatants, whose identities were meticulously recorded. 90% of the people killed in recent wars have been civilians, making counting and identifying them much more difficult.

I discussed the various efforts to count the dead in Iraq in my book, "Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq". What follows is a fairly lengthy excerpt from the book, and I urge you to read it if you really want to come to grips with the scale of the mass slaughter that our country has inflicted on the people of Iraq:

"The interim Iraqi government’s Health Ministry started collecting
civilian mortality figures from hospitals in 2004, and in June that year,
it started separating the figures for people killed by resistance forces
from those killed by U.S. and other occupation forces. Knight Ridder
correspondent Nancy Youssef was given the figures for the period between
June 10th and September 10th 2004 and covered them in an article
on September 25th 2004 that the Miami Herald titled “U.S. attacks,
not insurgents, blamed for most Iraqi deaths.”[135]

During this three month period, the Health Ministry counted 1,295
Iraqis killed by the occupation forces and 516 killed in what the ministry
called terrorist operations, but it agreed with hospital officials who
told Youssef that these figures only captured part of the death toll. The
Centcom press office refused to provide her with an alternative estimate,
although it admitted that the U.S. command did have one, and
the International Committee of the Red Cross told her it didn't have
sufficient staff in Iraq to compile such information.

Youssef questioned whether some of the Iraqis counted as killed by
the occupation forces might have been resistance fighters, but Dr. Shihab
Jassim of the Health Ministry's operations section told her the Ministry was
convinced that nearly all were civilians, because a family
member wouldn't report it to the occupation-controlled Health Ministry
if his or her relative died fighting for the Mahdi Army or other resistance
forces. This view was corroborated by Dr. Yasin Mustaf, the assistant
manager of al-Kimdi Hospital in Baghdad: “People who participate
in the conflict don't come to the hospital. Their families are afraid they
will be punished. Usually, the innocent people come to the hospital.
That is what the numbers show.”

Dr. Walid Hamed, another Health Ministry official told Youssef,
“Everyone is afraid of the Americans, not the fighters. And they should
be.” Another doctor she spoke to had lost his own 3-year old nephew in
a check-point shooting, and a doctor at the Baghdad morgue told her
about a family of eight who were all killed by a helicopter gun-ship after
they went up to sleep on their roof to escape the summer heat.
Overall, officials attributed the high numbers of civilians killed by occupation
forces primarily to air strikes rather than to shootings by
ground forces.

Also in September 2004, an international team of epidemiologists,
led by Les Roberts and Gilbert Burnham from Johns Hopkins School of
Public Health and Drs. Lafta and Khudhairi of Al Mustansiriya University
in Baghdad, conducted the first of two more scientific studies of
mortality in Iraq. This one covered the first eighteen months of the
war. Roberts had worked with a joint team from the Center for Disease
Control and Doctors Without Borders in Rwanda in 1994, and had conducted
similar studies in war zones around the world. Mortality estimates
he produced in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2000 were
widely cited by American and British leaders, and the U.N. Security
Council drafted a resolution demanding the withdrawal of all foreign
forces from the DRC following that report.

In Iraq, the epidemiologists found that, “Violent deaths were widespread
... and were mainly attributed to coalition forces. Most individuals reportedly
killed by coalition forces were women and children ...
Making conservative assumptions, we think that about 100,000 excess
deaths or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Violence
accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition
forces accounted for most violent deaths.” Their report was published
in the Lancet, the British medical journal, in November 2004.[136]

There was nothing surprising in their conclusions in light of the already
existing evidence that “coalition” air strikes had killed thousands
of civilians, both during and after the invasion. However, their report
was quickly dismissed by the American and British governments. The
American media, following their tradition of deference to U.S. officials,
took their cue from the government and more or less ignored the
study. Following the publication of the epidemiological team's second
study in 2006, which garnered a bit more media attention, President
Bush said only, “I don't consider it a credible report.”

The cynicism of these official dismissals was eventually exposed by
yet another set of leaked British documents. On March 26th 2007, the
BBC published a memo from Sir Roy Anderson, the chief scientific adviser
to Britain's Ministry of Defence, in which he described the epidemiologists'
methods as “close to best practice” and their study design as
“robust.” These documents included memos sent back and forth between
worried British officials saying things like, “Are we really sure the
report is likely to be right? That is certainly what the brief implies.”
Another official replied, “We do not accept the figures quoted in the
Lancet survey as accurate,” but added, in the same e-mail, “the survey
methodology used here cannot be rubbished, it is a tried and tested
way of measuring mortality in conflict zones.”[137]

The methodology that the British officials were referring to was a
“cluster sample survey,” the same type of study that Les Roberts had
conducted in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2000. Prime Minister
Blair had publicly cited that study's figures to the 2001 Labour Party
Conference to justify British policy in Africa, but he dismissed the study
in Iraq, telling reporters in December 2004, “Figures from the Iraqi
Ministry of Health, which are a survey from the hospitals there, are in
our view the most accurate survey there is.” This was interesting in
light of Youssef's report. Blair dismissed the overall numbers in the
Lancet report, but avoided the even more sensitive question of who
killed all these people, on which the Health Ministry and the epidemiologists
were in total agreement.

The Western media widely cited the Iraqi Health Ministry and Iraqbodycount.
org as sources for civilian mortality figures, but these both
used a passive methodology to count deaths, essentially adding up
deaths that had already been reported either in hospital records or in
Western media accounts. Epidemiologists working in other war zones
over the past twenty years have typically found that such passive methods
only capture between 5% and 20% of actual deaths. That is why
they have developed the cluster sample survey method to obtain a
more accurate picture of the deadly impact of conflicts on civilians, and
thus to facilitate more appropriate responses by governments, U.N.
agencies, and NGOs.

The cluster sample survey method used in war zones was adapted
from epidemiological practice in other types of public health crises,
surveying a representative sample of a population by clusters to estimate
the full extent of a health problem that affects the whole population.
As Les Roberts pointed out, “In 1993, when the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control randomly called 613 households in Milwaukee and
concluded that 403,000 people had developed Cryptosporidium in the
largest outbreak ever recorded in the developed world, no one said that
613 households was not a big enough sample. It is odd that the logic of
epidemiology embraced by the press every day regarding new drugs or
health risks somehow changes when the mechanism of death is their
armed forces.”[138]

In Iraq in September 2004, the epidemiological teams surveyed 988
households in 33 clusters in different parts of the country, attempting
to balance the risk to the survey teams with the size needed for a meaningful
sample. Michael O'Toole, the director of the Center for International
Health in Australia, said, “That's a classical sample size. I just
don't see any evidence of significant exaggeration ... If anything, the
deaths may have been higher because what they are unable to do is
survey families where everyone has died.”

Beyond the phony controversy in the media regarding the methodology
of these epidemiological studies, there was one significant question
regarding the numbers in the 2004 study. This was the decision to
exclude the data from a cluster in Fallujah due to the much higher
number of deaths that were reported there (even though the survey
was completed before the final assault on the city in November 2004).
Roberts wrote, in a letter to the Independent, “Please understand how
extremely conservative we were: we did a survey estimating that
285,000 people have died due to the first 18 months of invasion and occupation
and we reported it as at least 100,000.”

The dilemma they faced was this: in the 33 clusters surveyed, 18 reported
no violent deaths (including one in Sadr City), 14 other clusters
reported a total of 21 violent deaths and the Fallujah cluster alone reported
52 violent deaths. This last number is conservative for the reason
Michael O'Toole highlighted. As the report stated, “23 households
of 52 visited were either temporarily or permanently abandoned.
Neighbors interviewed described widespread death in most of the
abandoned homes but could not give adequate details for inclusion in
the survey.”

Leaving aside this last factor, there were three possible interpretations
of the results from Fallujah. The first, and indeed the one the epidemiologists
adopted, was that the team had randomly stumbled on a
cluster of homes where the death toll was so high as to be totally unrepresentative
and therefore not relevant to the survey. The second possibility
was that this pattern among the 33 clusters, with most of the
casualties falling in one cluster and many clusters reporting zero
deaths, was an accurate representation of the distribution of civilian
casualties in Iraq under “precision” aerial bombardment. The third possibility,
which effectively incorporated the other two, was that the Fallujah
cluster was atypical, but not sufficiently abnormal to warrant total
exclusion from the study, so that the real number of excess deaths fell
somewhere between 100,000 and 285,000.

In each case, however, these figures were only the mid-point of a
statistical range, leaving considerable uncertainty over the actual number
of deaths. The epidemiologists found, with 95% certainty, that the
excess number of deaths as a result of the war, excluding the 3% of the
country represented by the cluster in Fallujah, was somewhere between
8,000 and 194,000. In itself, this was hardly a solid or satisfactory conclusion.
However, it was very unlikely that the actual number of dead
was close to either of those extremes, and there was a 90% likelihood
that it was more than 44,000.

The Fallujah cluster, statistically representing the most devastated
3% of the country, reported 52 of the 73 total violent deaths in the survey.
Even if this was not a perfect representation of the distribution of
violent deaths, these parts of the country by definition suffered considerably
worse than other areas, and yet the published estimate of about
100,000 violent deaths effectively counted zero violent deaths in these
areas. The survey team that visited Fallujah reported that “vast areas of
the city had been devastated to an equal or worse degree than the area
they had randomly chosen to survey,” so that the area chosen did in
fact appear to be representative of many severely bombed areas.
One could therefore arrive at the estimate of “about 100,000 excess
deaths or more” by looking at the survey data in a number of different
ways, which made the authors very confident in their interpretation.
There were other conservative biases built into the study, such as ignoring
empty and bombed-out houses, as Michael O'Toole pointed out,
but no serious criticisms were made that would account for a significant
over-estimate of deaths resulting from these methods. The main
criticism made by politicians and journalists was that these studies
produced higher estimates than passive reporting, but that is exactly
what one would expect.

One larger survey that did produce lower civilian mortality figures
was the Iraq Living Conditions Survey (ILCS). This survey was conducted
by the Coalition Provisional Authority's Ministry of Planning
and Development Cooperation in April and May 2004 and it was published
in May 2005 by the U.N. Development Program. The “UNDP”
imprimatur and the large sample size gave credence to its reassuringly
low figure of about 24,000 “war deaths.”[139]

However, its estimate of war-deaths was derived from a single question
posed to families in the course of a 90-minute interview on living
conditions conducted by officials of the occupation government. By
contrast, the mortality studies published in the Lancet were designed
with the sole purpose of obtaining accurate mortality figures, and included
extensive precautions to guarantee the anonymity of the respondents
and to reassure them of the independence of the survey
teams.

Jon Pederson, the Norwegian designer of the ILCS, said himself that
its mortality figures were certainly too low. Survey teams that returned
to the same houses and enquired only about child deaths found almost
twice as many as in the main survey. This suggested precisely the reluctance
to report violent deaths that Roberts and his colleagues sought to
overcome by stressing their impartiality. And in April or May 2004, a
question regarding “war-deaths” could still be interpreted to refer only
to the invasion itself, as opposed to the long guerilla war that followed
it. This interpretation is supported by the fact that more than half the
deaths reported in the ILCS were in the southern region of Iraq, which
bore the brunt of the invasion but was later more peaceful than other
regions.

In January 2005, the health ministry provided the BBC with a summary
of its hospital survey for the previous six months which painted a
similar picture to the one given to Nancy Youssef of Knight Ridder in
September. It counted 2,041 civilians killed by U.S. forces and their
allies, and 1,233 killed by so-called insurgents. After the BBC broadcast
these figures all over the world, it received a call from the Health Minister
of the occupation government claiming that his ministry's report
had been misrepresented and that the number of deaths attributed to
the occupation forces was not accurate. The BBC issued a retraction,
and the Health Ministry stopped providing breakdowns of its figures
that attributed any responsibility for civilian deaths to the occupation
forces.[140]

Another actual nationwide count of civilian deaths was published by
a group called Iraqiyun on July 12th 2005. Iraqiyun was an Iraqi humanitarian
group headed by Dr. Hatim Al-Alwani and affiliated with the
political party of Interim President Ghazi Al-Yawer. It counted 128,000
actual violent deaths, of whom 55 percent were women and children
under the age of 12. The report specified that it included only confirmed
deaths reported to relatives, omitting significant numbers of
people who had simply disappeared without trace amid the violence
and chaos. It was highly unlikely that an effort like this to actually
count every one of the dead could result in anything but a significant
undercount, for the reasons already discussed.[141]

Then, between May and July 2006, Roberts, Burnham and Lafta led a
second epidemiological study in Iraq to update their estimate of at least
100,000 deaths between March 2003 and September 2004. They increased
their sample size to 1,849 households, comprising 12,801 individuals,
in 47 clusters. They were now surveying the results of 40
months of war. These factors enabled them to narrow the statistical
range of their results. This time they were able to say, with 95% certainty,
that between 426,000 and 794,000 Iraqis had died violent deaths as
a consequence of the war. Their best estimate was that there had been
about 655,000 excess deaths, of which about 600,000 were violent
deaths. The finding of the earlier survey that at least 100,000 Iraqis had
been killed by October 2004 was validated, with a new estimate of
112,000 excess deaths for that period. This also validated the conservative
assumption that the Fallujah sample was unusual but not irrelevant. [142]

They also found some changes in the pattern of violent deaths. Gunfire
was now the most common cause of death overall, and “the proportion
of deaths ascribed to coalition forces had diminished in 2006, although
the actual numbers have increased every year.” Their overall
conclusion, however, was that, “The number of people dying in Iraq has
continued to escalate.”

This overall trend was extremely disturbing, with each period accounting
for more violent deaths than the one before and a proliferation
in types of violence over time. Air strikes now accounted for only
13% of total violent deaths, but were still responsible for the deaths of
about half of all the children killed in Iraq, underlining the inherently
indiscriminate nature of powerful air-launched weapons. There had
been huge increases in violent deaths among males between the ages of
15 and 44, now accounting for 59% of all violent deaths, but the epidemiologists
decided not to try to differentiate between combatant and
non-combatant deaths. With much of the population now involved in
armed resistance to the occupation, they felt that asking questions
about this could put the survey teams at greater risk, and that responses
would not be reliable in any case.

Households attributed 31% of violent deaths to coalition forces,
which would result in an estimate of at least 180,000 people killed directly
by American and other foreign occupation forces. However, the
report noted that, “Deaths were not classified as being due to coalition
forces if households had any uncertainty about the responsible party;
consequently, the number of deaths and the proportion of violent
deaths attributable to coalition forces could be conservative estimates.”
Also, Iraqi forces recruited and trained by U.S. forces and under overall
U.S. command played an increasing role in the war, in particular in the
reign of terror launched in Baghdad in May 2005. These forces were
responsible for the summary executions of thousands of young men
and teenage boys, but those deaths were not attributed to “coalition”
forces in this survey.

Two more studies of mortality in Iraq were published in January
2008. The first was the Iraq Family Health Survey, which was conducted
by the same group (COSIT) that conducted the CPA's Iraq Living
Conditions Survey in 2004. This study focused exclusively on the
death toll, with some cooperation from the World Health Organization
and was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. It surveyed
deaths only up to June 2006, to provide a comparison with the second
survey by Roberts, Burnham, and Lafta. Although it also found evidence
of a huge increase in the death rate since the invasion, the IFHS
produced a much lower estimate of about 150,000 violent deaths.[143]

Unfortunately, there are several reasons to doubt the accuracy of
this lower figure. Like the ILCS in 2004, this survey was conducted by
employees of a government that was taking part in the violence it was
attempting to quantify. This predictably leads to underreporting. Secondly,
its estimate of the pre-invasion death rate for 2002 is about one
third of the official death rate recorded by the World Health Organization.
Thirdly, it found no increase in the violent death rate from year to
year between 2003 and 2006. Every other data set available, from mortality
studies to the Pentagon's statistics on violence in Iraq, showed
increases in violence each year. Fourth, it found that only one in six
post-invasion deaths was due to violence, compared with a majority of
deaths due to violence in the other epidemiological studies, and in independent
surveys of graveyards.

A fifth factor that surely contributed to the IFHS's low mortality figure
was that it was unable to survey mortality in the most dangerous
11% of the country. It attempted to compensate for this based on the
regional distribution of violent deaths in Iraqbodycount.org (IBC), a
record of deaths compiled from international media reports. However,
because the unsurveyed areas were also the most dangerous for Western
reporters, IBC inevitably undercounted deaths in these same areas.
And yet IFHS used this distorted distribution pattern based on passive
reporting to estimate deaths in the deadliest parts of the country.

The other survey published in January 2008 was a survey conducted
in August and September 2007 by Opinion Research Business, a British
polling firm, in conjunction with Iraq's Independent Institute for Administration
and Civil Society Studies. They surveyed 2,414 households
and asked them if they had lost a member or members of the household
to violence since the invasion. They were unable to survey three
provinces (Anbar, Karbala and Irbil), and most of the 8% of households
who refused to answer were in Baghdad, where death-rates were
among the highest. These factors contributed a conservative bias to
their estimate. In spite of this, ORB found that about 20% of households
surveyed had lost at least one member, and estimated that 1.03
million people had died in the war. Without compensating for the conservative
biases mentioned above, their data and sample size gave them
95% certainty for a number of deaths between 946,000 and 1.12 million. [144]

After the publication of the second epidemiological study in the
Lancet, the scale of violent death it revealed was gradually acknowledged
among educated circles in the West, including in the United
States. The ORB survey provided independent confirmation of the scale
of the violence. It also suggested that deaths had continued to increase
for at least another year after the publication of the second study in the
Lancet and that the death toll probably now exceeded a million violent
deaths.

The work of all these researchers showed that the United States and
other modern governments could not unleash this kind of violence on
another country without eventually facing the consequences of public
awareness of the nature and magnitude of its effects. And, although
U.S. officials may never publicly acknowledge it, the publication of
these studies probably served to restrain some of their most violent impulses
in the conduct of the war."

135. Nancy Youssef, "U.S. attacks, not insurgents, blamed for most Iraqi deaths,” Miami
Herald, September 25 2004. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0925-
02.htm
136. Les Roberts et al., "Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: cluster
sample survey,” The Lancet, Vol 364, November 20 2004.
137. Owen Bennett-Jones, "Iraq deaths survey was robust,” BBC World Service,
March 26 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6495753.stm
138. Nicolas J. S. Davies, "Burying the Lancet report,” Z Magazine, February 2006.
139. http://www.iq.undp.org/ilcs.htm
140. "BBC obtains Iraq casualty figures,” BBC News, January 28 2005. Original report
at http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article7906.htm
141. "Iraqi civilian casualties,” United Press International, July 12 2005.
http://www.upi.com/Security_Terrorism/Analysis/2005/07/12/iraqi_civilian...
2280/
142. Gilbert Burnham et al., "Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a crosssectional
cluster sample survey,” The Lancet, October 11 2006.
143. Iraq Family Health Survey Study Group, "Violence-related mortality in Iraq
from 2002 to 2006,” New England Journal of Medicine, Vol 358: 484-493, January 31
2008.
144. http://www.opinion.co.uk/Newsroom_details.aspx?NewsId=88

Nicolas J S Davies is the author of "Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq" (Nimble Books, 2010). http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Our-Hands-American-Destruction/dp/193484098X...

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Finally; a truthful and [qualitative] Iraqi casualty count article after the present media hype about the Iraq War logs released by Wikileaks supposedly giving us any significant Iraqi casualty count update when there's absolutely nothing noteworthy about this part of the war logs, besides it still providing a grotesque undercount and hyped.

This is deceptive.

It's most definitely deceptive, but only for people who could be fooled and we should all be sufficiently well informed by now to not be fooled by this so-called noteworthy part of the Iraq War logs released by Wikileaks.

The following are two articles of several years ago evidently by the same Nicolas Davies.

"Estimating civilian deaths in Iraq – six surveys"
by Nicolas J S Davies, March 29th, 2006

www.onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_643.shtml

Note: His earlier article, "Burying the Lancet report ...", is linked further below, and I got these links while doing a Web search to try to find a copy of Nancy Youssef's article for the former Knight Ridder but for which no copy can be found by either Google, Bing.com, or the dogpile.com search engine.

Since I wrote Burying the Lancet Report . . . and the Children (Online Journal) in December, a number of people have asked me, “What about the other surveys that produced lower estimates of civilian deaths than the Lancet report?” The appearance of inconsistency between different surveys has led most news organizations to adopt the phrase “tens of thousands” when speaking of civilian deaths.

In this article, I hope to clarify the apparent inconsistencies between these different surveys. Six distinct groups have conducted and published surveys of civilian deaths in Iraq since the invasion. These surveys were conducted at different points in the conflict and with different methodologies, and it is important to understand exactly what each of them was attempting to count and when. Some were actual counts, which inevitably tend to underestimate deaths in war zones, while others used statistical methods to overcome this problem. Some counted only civilians killed by actual acts of war and some counted all violent deaths, while the Lancet report estimated total excess deaths from all causes resulting from the war.

(snip)

He goes on to describe the IBC Web site, "The People’s Kifah Survey", "The Iraq Living Conditions Survey", "The Lancet Report", "Iraqi Health Ministry Reports", and the "Iraqiyun Survey".

"Burying the Lancet report . . . and the children"
by Nicolas J S Davies, Dec. 14th, 2005

www.onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_333.shtml

Some other sources:

"Casualties in Iraq
The Human Cost of Occupation
Edited by Margaret Griffis"

http://antiwar.com/casualties

For Iraqi casualties, the above antiwar.com page refers readers to the following Web page.

"Iraq Deaths"

www.justforeignpolicy.org/iraq

The number is shocking and sobering. It is at least 10 times greater than most estimates cited in the US media, yet it is based on a scientific study of violent Iraqi deaths caused by the U.S.-led invasion of March 2003.

That page shows an image of a grave stone with the number 1,421,933 on it for "Iraqi Deaths Due To U.S. Invasion". And the page is also for a petition.

Excerpt from the explanation for the JFP petition:

Sign the petition telling Congress that about a million Iraqis have likely been killed since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Help us expose to Congress the true costs of war.

A study, published in prestigious medical journal The Lancet, estimated that over 600,000 Iraqis had been killed as a result of the invasion as of July 2006. Iraqis have continued to be killed since then. The death counter provides a rough daily update of this number based on a rate of increase derived from the Iraq Body Count. (See the complete explanation.)

The estimate that over a million Iraqis have died received independent confirmation from a prestigious British polling agency in September 2007. Opinion Research Business estimated that 1.2 million Iraqis have been killed violently since the US-led invasion (my emphasis).

(snip)

The above says, "The Lancet, estimated that over 600,000 Iraqis had been killed as a result of the invasion as of July 2006", but there's also a more recent study report from the same group if I'm recalling this correctly, for their second report said that the Iraqi "excess death" count realistically could be expected to be around one million and/or possibly more. They did produce two reports separated by a year or more, if I'm recalling correctly.

Actually, the following page says that the 2006 report is the second one.

"Lancet surveys of Iraq War casualties"

www.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Lancet_surveys_of_Iraq_War_casualties

The Lancet, one of the oldest scientific medical journals in the world, published two peer-reviewed studies on the effect of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and subsequent occupation on the Iraqi mortality rate. The first was published in 2004; the second (by many of the same authors) in 2006. The studies estimate the number of excess deaths caused by the occupation, both direct (combatants plus non-combatants) and indirect (due to increased lawlessness, degraded infrastructure, poor healthcare, etc.).

The first survey[1] published on 29 October 2004, estimated 98,000 excess Iraqi deaths (with a range of 8,000 to 194,000, using a 95% confidence interval (CI)) from the 2003 invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq to that time, or about 50% higher than the death rate prior to the invasion. The authors described this as a conservative estimate, because it excluded the extreme statistical outlier data from Falluja. If the Falluja cluster were included, the mortality estimate would increase to 150% over pre-invasion rates (95% CI: 1.6 to 4.2).

The second survey[2][3][4] published on 11 October 2006, estimated 654,965 excess deaths related to the war, or 2.5% of the population, through the end of June 2006. The new study applied similar methods and involved surveys between May 20 and July 10, 2006.[4] More households were surveyed, allowing for a 95% confidence interval of 392,979 to 942,636 excess Iraqi deaths. 601,027 deaths (range of 426,369 to 793,663 using a 95% confidence interval) were due to violence. 31% (186,318) of those were attributed to the Coalition, 24% (144,246) to others, and 46% (276,472) unknown. The causes of violent deaths were gunshot (56% or 336,575), car bomb (13% or 78,133), other explosion/ordnance (14%), air strike (13% or 78,133), accident (2% or 12,020), and unknown (2%).

The Lancet surveys are controversial due to their methodology and because their mortality figures are higher than most other reports that used different methodologies, including those of the Iraq Body Count project, the Iraqi Health Ministry and the United Nations, as well as other household surveys such as the Iraq Living Conditions Survey and the Iraq Family Health Survey. On the other hand the ORB survey of Iraq War casualties estimated more deaths than the Lancet survey. Out of all the Iraqi casualty surveys so far, only the Lancet surveys and the Iraq Family Health Survey were peer-reviewed. The Lancet surveys have triggered criticism and disbelief from some journalists, governments, the Iraq Body Count project, some epidemiologists and statisticians and others, but have also been supported by some journalists, governments, epidemiologists and statisticians.[5]

(snip)

JFP's counter for Web sites:

JFP provides a "counter of violent Iraqi deaths due to the U.S.-led invasion and occupation" that can be added to Web sites, btw. (See the bottom part of the above JFP Web page.)

"Casualties of the Iraq War"

www.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Iraq_War

UPDATE: Nancy Youssef's article

I just noticed that Nicolas Davies provided a link for a CommonDreams.org copy of Nancy Youssef's Sept. 25th, 2004 article. The url for the link is truncated, so it doesn't work, but the article is found through CD's archives and evidently is the following. It has a different title than the one that Nicolas Davies provided, but the title is about the same topic and is the only match in CD's archive for headline articles of the same date.

"More Iraqi Civilians Killed by US Forces Than By Insurgents, Data Shows"

by Nancy A. Youssef, Knight Ridder, Sept. 25th, 2004

www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0925-02.htm

Hey Mike,

The link to this article didn't work because the end was on the next line. Here's the full link, and the article is still there: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0925-02.htm

It's one of the best investigative pieces on civilian deaths from that period. Nancy Youssef has since been deeply embedded - she's now McClatchy's Pentagon correspondent and a regular on the Diane Rehm show. The first time I heard her on the radio, she used the word "we" to refer to the U.S., U.S. forces in Iraq, the U.S. military in general and U.S. interests in Iraq. I e-mailed her to point out that she'd completely lost her objectivity and she wrote back to apologize, but I'm not sure that she ever got it back.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." - Upton Sinclair

Update: O.K. You found it! I'm not sure why the title is slightly different, but they may have changed it in the electronic version by the time Common Dreams picked it up. Other versions on other Knight Ridder sites had innocuous titles that gave no hint of the critical revelation that U.S. forces were killing more Iraqis than the Resistance.

Objectivity is definitely important for everyone and definitely is essential for journalists and other writers of texts destined for other people to read.

As for the title of the piece, anyone who would've fully read your article before trying to find a copy of her article could've quickly realized that checking CD's archives was the first thing to do. It's just that as soon as I read your reference to her article, I immediately did a search for it, figuring that you didn't provide a link.

Thanks anyway, and you wrote up a very excellent article, btw.

From what I've read about the deaths due to this war on Iraq, not all were violent, but some studies or Iraqi casualty counts apparently are only for violent deaths. There are other causes of excess deaths due to the war, as Les Roberts et al had explained. And common sense combined with knowing that the U.S. (deliberately) did not restore sanitation, like for sewage, and for safe drinking water would tell us that there'll surely be many Iraqi deaths of the nonviolent kind but nevertheless due to this war.

And then what about the Iraqi deaths due to radiological and other toxic poisoning caused by the US and UK in this war? These can be counted as nonviolent excess deaths.

When violent deaths of Iraqis due to this criminal war and occupation come to end, the excess Iraqi deaths due to this war will keep climbing. And, so far, the real total numbers are surely over one million.

Another factor that doesn't literally count for deaths is that many women in areas like Fallujah, where there are high increases in extreme birth deformities, have decided that they no longer want to even bear the thought of trying to have children. They're too horrified by what they've seen of the extreme birth deformities. So, and imo, this reality should be included when reporting on excess deaths of Iraqis due to this war. These non-births and non-conceptions represent outcomes of genocidally killing Iraqis.

I came across an article over the past two or three weeks and didn't have time to read it, but the title for the piece indicated that it was about high increases of cancers and possibly other deformities in Basra or that southern area of Iraq; and that this, if I recall correctly, was possibly because of a lot of DU munitions having been used there, during the early phase of the war anyway.

Studies counting only Iraqi deaths of violent kind due to this war are definitely providing serious undercounts.

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