Thursday, October 12, 2006

Regarding the Dead

Les Roberts has what is truly the last word on the Johns Hopkins/Lancet study of deaths in Iraq. He notes that their report (he is a co-author) indicates the death toll in Iraq is 4 times higher than it was before the invasion, and proposes an easy check of their study. Any interested journalist can go to 4 or 5 cemetery operators around Iraq and ask them if there has been an increase in burials since the invasion, and review the numbers (as he helpfully points out, cemetery operators keep records) to determine by how much they have increased.

If the study is just a guess, if it is "not credible," that can easily be assessed.

He also points out that in 90-95% of the cases, families were able to produce death certificates. Very little of their evidence is purely anecdotal, in other words. And it is the methodology used by the US government in counting the dead in Kosovo, and it trains NGO's to use this methodology to determine death rates in times of war. He is sure there is less than a 2% chance their number is below 400,000. This is the methodology Bush assures us "is pretty well discredited."

Interestingly, this story is getting some attention, but Bush's statement that Iraqi's "tolerate a level of violence" that is, quite simply, beyond horrific, is getting no attention at all. But, as Roberts points out, Bush was asked about the first Johns Hopkins study (which estimated 100,000 died in the invasion) 14 months after that study was released. Bush was asked about the second study 4 hours after it was released.

And what the dead had no speech for, when living,
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.

T.S. Eliot, "Little Gidding"

Let it be so.

Update: Sadly, I seem to be right about the media ignoring Bush's comment about Iraqi's "tolerating violence:"

...the traditional media took no notice of Bush's assertion about tolerating violence. It wasn't in any of the major newspaper stories. The NBC Nightly News actually aired that sound byte, but without comment.
Well, after all, Iraqis aren't Americans....

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