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John Rentoul: Iraq death toll, again

Posted by Eagle Eye
  • Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 12:00 pm

There is just so much misinformation on the internet that it cannot all be corrected, but when it starts to appear in my own newspaper, albeit in the "letters" page (which is now a "letters, emails and online postings" page), it is worth rebutting. This letter was published last Sunday:

In "The really disturbing question about Iraq" (29 November), John Rentoul writes of "the deaths of perhaps 150,000 Iraqis" during the Iraq war. Three years ago, The Lancet informed us that about 600,000 Iraqis had died. The website Information Clearing House continuously updates that figure, which now stands at 1,339,771. The vast majority of these deaths are civilians and many are children. The number of injured will be much higher and millions have been driven from their homes. There are many disturbing questions concerning the Iraq war and one of these is the failure of the British media to inform the public about the suffering of the Iraqi people.

Jim McCluskey

Twickenham, Middlesex

The Lancet
study has been discredited, and the figure from Information Clearing House is extrapolated from it using a simple multiplier derived from Iraq Body Count, which currently puts the violent death toll since the invasion at around 100,000, using a careful and conservative method.

The Information Clearing House estimate comes from another site called Just Foreign Policy, which has a Death Counter Explanation Page, which explains how it arrives at the 1.3m figure:

The formula used is:

Just Foreign Policy estimate = (Lancet estimate as of July 2006) * ( (Current IBC Deaths) / (IBC Deaths as of July 1, 2006) )

I shall simply repeat what I have said before:

Of course, the death toll in Iraq has been too high. The Iraq Body Count cumulative total since the invasion is now just under 100,000. That is likely to be an under-estimate, but the highest figure from a credible and independently verifiable source is the World Health Organisation survey, also in 2006, that estimated (with a 95 per cent probability) between 104,000 and 223,000, but which again used the cluster sample method. (There is a good summary of the different approaches published by the International Committee of the Red Cross here - pdf.)

But to exaggerate it by a factor of 10 or more does nothing to advance the anti-war cause.


Hillary Rodham Clinton and Pax Americana.
ron_broxted wrote:
Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 01:05 pm (UTC)
If these Iraqi chaps didn't stand in the way of our bullets everything would be fine.
Iraq Illegal War.
porkfright wrote:
Wednesday, 9 December 2009 at 05:12 pm (UTC)
Is anyone else as fed up and annoyed as I am by these Iraqocaust deniers? The anti-war cause needs no advancement-the war was not a mistake- it was pre-planned mass murder led by a group of morons.