Recently the moderator on the SCC blog refused to publish my response to a True Believer in the "Hidden Homicides?" thread who described those of us, particularly in law enforcement, who held principled objections to the US war of aggression in Iraq as "cowards".
This Super-Patriot then went on to challenge us to tell returning veterans, "that they did not accomplish anything to help the Iraqis". To this I reasonably responded that the opinions of American veterans were entirely irrelevant to the issue. What should concern us is what do Iraqis think of our (unasked for) "assistance"? According to recent polls of Iraqi public opinion--not much. Frankly, most Americans aren't overjoyed either.
What prompted this challenge alert, however, was the moderator's amazing rationale for censoring my post after I alluded to the number of Iraqis killed as a result of the US invasion, destruction, and occupation of the rubble that is now Iraq. His explanation serves as an instructive example of what happens when conventional wisdom is challenged by clear evidence to the contrary within a highly regimented intellectual culture. Particularly in a culture were propaganda has become the unassailable Truth.
Challenge Alert #2
For those who have not been following this soap opera, it has long been my habit when discussing or writing about the number of Iraqi civilian dead as a result of the March 2003 US invasion of that country to reference the peer-reviewed mortality survey conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2004 and, most recently, in October of 2006. Both reports were published in the highly respected British scientific journal, the Lancet. Their latest estimate published on October 11, 2006 places the number of Iraqi civilian deaths as a result of the US invasion at 655,000 deaths in excess of what would have occurred had the US not invaded the country. The SCC moderator and other apologists for Team Bush war crimes, however, prefer the useful fictions reported by the British research group Iraq Body Count (IBC), which has consistently under reported Iraqi civilian deaths as a result of the invasion by at least a factor of six. What follows is the SCC moderator's stunning reply to my post:
"We aren't publishing your comment for a couple of reasons, first of which is we said to STOP publishing the bullshit numbers from the Lancet". He then goes on to remind me that he has provided me with information regarding a website (IBC) "that is non partisan and mostly accurate".
What a startling admission on your part SCC. You are in essence stating that you are qualified to pass judgment on the work of leading epidemiologists whose work has been published in a respected peer-reviewed scientific journal (Lancet).
I am happy to report that I was quite aware of the IBC and its work well before I ever became aware of the Second City Cop blog.
Are you aware that the IBC has no epidemiologists on its staff?
Are you aware that the IBC uses primarily western media reports from the conflict zone to determine their estimations?
Are you at all aware of the background and experience level of the distinguished scientists who conducted the study published in the Lancet?
In what way are you qualified to dismiss as "bullshit" the work of the following: Dr. Les Roberts PhD, Dr. Shannon Doocy PhD, and Dr. Gilbert Burnham MD of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Dr. Riyadh Lafta of Al Mustansiriya University Baghdad? These were the authors of the Lancet report, and they have conducted similar studies in war zones as far flung as Kosovo, Darfur, and the Congo using the standard accepted methodology in each example--cross-sectional cluster sample surveys.
This is what John Sloboda, co-founder and director of the IBC admitted to David Edwards of Media Lens in an e-mail on 14 January 2006,
" Our work is, and always has been, to systematically record civilian deaths reported by two or more recognized media sources which conform to the basic criteria set out in our methodology. (My emphasis)
This means that deaths unreported in these media are not in our data base. We have always publicly acknowledged that our numbers must underepresent (sic) the true figure".
Need I remind you SCC that the vast majority of western media personnel are, for obvious safety reasons, restricted almost exclusively to the Green Zone and have almost no independent access to the rest of the country.
SCC, I have enough respect for the intelligence and innate curiosity of the Second City Cop blog community to trust that they can determine for themselves whether or not the following series from Media Lens qualifies as competent journalism. They provide their correspondence not only with the director of the IBC and the authors of the Lancet report, but with other leading epidemiologists in the field as they investigated the validity of the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health report which was published in the Lancet to such controversy.
As investigators, most of us are comfortable with the process of sifting through evidence to determine the path to the truth. I ask you to approach the material that follows as though you were investigating a crime. Are the witnesses credible? What does the evidence suggest? Think independently.
Part I and Part II cover the initial western media response to the first report published in 2004 (that 100,000 figure).
The April 10, 2006 report features the challenge of IBC's methodology by journalist John Pilger and a leading epidemiologist.
The October 18, 2006 report covers the release of the updated Lancet study (that 655,000 figure) and its methodology.
The October 31, 2006 report featured Lancet report co-author Dr. Les Robert's response to questions about his work and that of his colleagues on the study.
Last but not least, I leave it to you the reader to judge for yourself the worth of the Lancet Report and draw your own conclusions.
SCC, the rest of your statements regarding the cost of the war, Iraqi public opinion (see link above), and my "attempts to tie Saddam's atrocities to the political winds of the 80's", will be addressed in turn. Stay safe.
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