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Disputed study claims 655,000 Iraqi deaths
POSTED: 2:57 a.m. EDT, October 11, 2006
NEW YORK (AP) -- A controversial new study contends nearly 655,000 Iraqis have died because of the war, suggesting a far higher death toll than other estimates.
The timing of the survey's release, just a few weeks before the U.S. congressional elections, led one expert to call it "politics."
In the new study, researchers attempt to calculate how many more Iraqis have died since March 2003 than one would expect without the war. Their conclusion, based on interviews of households and not a body count, is that about 600,000 died from violence, mostly gunfire. They also found a small increase in deaths from other causes like heart disease and cancer.
'Iraqi war death toll at 655,000'
Wednesday, 11 October 2006
An estimated 655,000 Iraqis have died since 2003 who might still be alive but for the US-led invasion, according to a survey by a US university.
The research compares mortality rates before and after the invasion from 47 randomly chosen areas in Iraq.
The figure is considerably higher than estimates by official sources or the number of deaths reported in the media.
Critics have dismissed the findings because they are based on a statistical prediction rather than body counts.
Dr Gilbert Burnham of the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Heath, based in Baltimore, says this method is more reliable, given the dangers of conducting thorough research in strife-torn Iraq.
The estimated death toll is equal to about 2.5% of Iraq's population, and averages out at more than 500 additional deaths a day since the start of the invasion.
Researchers spoke to nearly 1,850 families, comprising more than 12,800 people in dozens of 40-household clusters around the country.
Of the 629 deaths they recorded among these families, 13% took place in the 14 months before the invasion and 87% in the 40 months afterwards.
Such a trend repeated nationwide would indicate a rise in annual death rates from 5.5 per 1,000 to 13.3 per 1,000.
The researchers say that in nearly 80% of the individual cases, family members produced death certificates to support their answers.
Reliable data is very hard to obtain in Iraq, where anti-US insurgents and sectarian death squads pose a grave danger to civilian researchers.
The survey updates earlier research using the same "cluster" technique which indicated that 100,000 Iraqis had died between the invasion and April 2004 - a figure that was also dismissed by many supporters of the US-led coalition.
While critics point to the discrepancy between this and other independent surveys (such as Iraq Body Count's figure of 44-49,000 civilian deaths, based on media reports), the Bloomberg School team says its method may actually underestimate the true figure.
"Families, especially in households with combatants killed, could have hidden deaths. Under-reporting of infant deaths is a widespread concern in surveys of this type," the authors say.
"Entire households could have been killed, leading to survivor bias."
The survey suggests that most of the extra deaths - 601,000 - would have been the result of violence, mostly gunfire, and suggests that 31% could be attributable to action by US-led coalition forces.
The survey is to be published in a UK medical journal, the Lancet, on Thursday.
In an accompanying comment, the Lancet's Richard Horton acknowledges that the 2004 survey provoked controversy, but emphasises that the 2006 follow-up has been recommended by "four expert peers... with relatively minor revisions".
An accurate count of Iraqi deaths has been difficult to obtain, but one respected group puts its rough estimate at closer to 50,000. And at least one expert was skeptical of the new findings.
"They're almost certainly way too high," said Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington.
A private group called Iraqi Body Count, for example, says it has recorded about 44,000 to 49,000 civilian Iraqi deaths. But it notes that those totals are based on media reports, which it says probably overlook "many if not most civilian casualties."
The survey participants attributed about 31 percent of violent deaths to coalition forces
Speaking of the new study, Burnham said the estimate was much higher than others because it was derived from a house-to-house survey rather than approaches that depend on body counts or media reports.
"They're almost certainly way too high," said Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington. He criticized the way the estimate was derived and noted that the results were released shortly before the Nov. 7 elections in the United States.
"This is not analysis, this is politics," Cordesman said.
The work updates an earlier Johns Hopkins study -- that one was released just before the November 2004 presidential election. At the time, the lead researcher, Les Roberts of Hopkins, said the timing was deliberate. Many of the same researchers were involved in the latest estimate.
Originally posted by bodrul
a congradulations goes to the Bush admin and those americans who voted for him your hands are stained with blood
i mean what a way to get rid of those WMDS i mean spread democracy and freedom
Originally posted by TONE23
dbates...you will have to firgive me... I was not totally awake and didnt really get to fully post everything. Yes 31 percent is direct result of coalition forces... But we are still responsible because our war started the sectarian violence our war hurt the infrastructure. We are still responsible one way or another.
Originally posted by centurion1211
This all politically timed to influence the U.S. elections coming up. Read this article just in from CNN (no friend of the current administration) regarding this outrageous report: (my bolding added)