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One million killed in Iraq?

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Uploaded on Aug 10, 2007

Independent group uses Lancet study to project Iraq death toll

2007-08-10

Last year, the medical journal The Lancet published an estimate of 650,000 excess deaths in Iraq based on a demographic study conducted by field workers questioning people in clusters throughout Iraq.

The group Just Foreign Policy has taken that number and projected it using Iraq Body Count, which tallies deaths reported by Western media sources. This leads to a rough estimate that one million Iraqis have now been killed in the conflict since the U.S.'s 2003 invasion and occupation.

When The Lancet published the 650,000 estimate, President George W. Bush said: "600,000 or whatever they guessed at is just, it's not credible."

We speak to Les Roberts, now at Columbia University, who is co-author of The Lancet piece "Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey." Roberts has studied other conflicts, including in Congo, where his estimates have been widely accepted.

We also speak with Robert Naiman of the group Just Foreign Policy.

Why the disparity between the Iraq Body Count numbers and The Lancet study? Patrick Ball of the group Benetech has noted: "Methods such as media reports typically capture violence well when it is moderate, but when it really increases, they miss a great deal." (Ball is a co-author of the book State Violence in Guatemala, 1960-1996, and wrote the chapter "On the Quantification of Horror: Field Notes on Statistical Analysis of Human Rights Violations" in the book Repression and Mobilization.)

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