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Yes, Lancet lied about Iraq war deaths (My Wkly Std article)

By Michael Fumento

When The Lancet came out with its 2004 "pre-election surprise" study claiming a massive number of war-related Iraqi deaths since the invasion, I and others immediately poked so many holes in it that it resembled a spaghetti strainer. Undaunted, two years later the same journal published another pre-election surprise study alleging a drastically-higher 655,000 excess deaths over a longer period, with 600,000 directly from violence.

Naturally, the media cheered until hoarse, featuring Lancet's numbers on 25 news shows and in 188 articles within a single week. Likewise for the leftist blogosphere like Daily Kos and Tim Lambert at Deltoid - who began a vendetta against me over it.

But now, as I discuss in my current Weekly Standard article, "The Casualties of War," complete with a plethora of hyperlinks, a new study co-conducted by the World Health Organization (hardly an Iraq war booster) and appearing in America's most prestigious medical journal, directly compares itself with Lancet 2006. It also uses as comparison numbers kept by the antiwar group IraqBodyCount. The comparisons show the real carnage is whatever was left of the Lancet's reputation and that of its editor, who screeches about "Anglo-American imperialism" at anti-war rallies.

Perhaps most importantly, for the latest comparable reporting period, the new study found Lancet's numbers to be SEVEN TIMES its own.

The WHO's Iraq Family Health Study (IFHS) "found an estimated 151,000 excess violent deaths from the U.S-led invasion in March 2003 through June 2006, when compared to violent deaths in the prewar period," I note. "This is roughly one-fourth the war-related deaths found by Lancet in 2006."

Specifically, for the last comparable year, "the IFHS daily figure was 2.3 times higher than that of IraqBodyCount, (while) the Lancet 2006 daily figure was a stunning 7.3 times higher than that of the IFHS and 17 times higher than that of IraqBodyCount."

Nonetheless, the research leader for both the Lancet studies insists the IFHS findings are consistent with Lancet 2006! He's said the same of the only "study" to find a higher number than The Lancet, a British poll last year concluding over 1.2 million Iraqis had been "murdered." Die-never defenders like Lambert likewise assert that all three studies are consistent. In short, no study can possibly find so few or so many deaths that somehow it doesn't somehow support The Lancet.

Yet one hardly need to look at outside studies to find Lancet 2006 is B.S. Consider just this.

Lancet 2006 attributed an amazing 166 deaths on average per day to car bombings alone from June 2005-June 2006. These bombings are fastidiously reported in the U.S. media and Wikipedia keeps a list of the major ones. Yet the highest single-day car bomb total Wikipedia records (114) is 42 short of Lancet's alleged average. Lancet's daily car bomb victim average is also 111 more than Iraq Body Count figure for war-related deaths from all causes. How could IraqBodyCount miss all those bodies?

Are the MSM now admitting to having been duped - assuming "dupe" is the proper word?

Get real. "WHO Says Iraq Civilian Death Toll Higher Than Cited" screamed the title of The New York Times article.

ERRATUM: In the original blog, I wrote that the number of Iraqi dead Lancet 2006 attributed to car bomb victims per day was "111 times higher" than Iraqbodycount. That would be extreme, even for The Lancet. Or maybe not. As it happens, it's "111 more," not 111 times more.

January 28, 2008 02:25 PM  ·  Iraq ~ Media ~ Military