British Government advisors believed the Iraq 655,000 casualty number.

Originally published 3/26/07:

Les Roberts’ John Hopkins/Lancet Iraq casualty study is back in the news again with memos uncovered thru a FOIA that show that advisors to the Ministry of Defense in England said the methodology was “robust” and that it was the, “tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones.” 

Each year that passes by, a similar study will bring forth similarly shocking results if we don’t leave Iraq immediately. 

U.K. aides backed study that placed Iraq toll at more than 600,000

British government officials backed the methodology used by researchers who concluded that more than 600,000 Iraqis had been killed since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, the BBC reported Monday.

The government publicly rejected the findings, published in The Lancet medical journal in October. But the BBC said documents obtained under freedom of information legislation showed that advisers concluded that the study had used sound methods.

The Lancet study, conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, estimated that 655,000 more Iraqis had died since March 2003 than one would expect without the war. The study estimated that 601,027 of those deaths occurred as a result of violence.

The researchers, reflecting the inherent uncertainties in such extrapolations, said they were 95 percent certain that the real number lay somewhere between 392,979 and 942,636 deaths.

The conclusion, based on interviews of households and not a body count, was disputed by some experts, and rejected by the U.S. and British governments.

President George W. Bush said he did not consider it “a credible report,” and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s official spokesman said the study had extrapolated from an unrepresentative sample of the population.

However, the chief scientific adviser to the Defense Ministry, Roy Anderson, described the methods used in the study as “robust” and “close to best practice.”

A memo from Anderson’s office to senior officials, obtained by the BBC World Service, said the chief scientist “recommends caution in publicly criticizing the study.”

In another document, a government official – whose name has been blanked out – said “the survey methodology used here cannot be rubbished, it is a tried and tested way of measuring mortality in conflict zones.”

Calculating the number of people killed in Iraq is notoriously difficult, and estimates have varied widely.


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