Silence, On Tue

There are days when I feel completely battered by the news, and have no energy to work, much less to post anything here. And then there are days when even a word like “battered” seems obscene. A new report, released by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, estimates that 650,000 Iraqis have died since 2003. The survey numbers are based on interviews with 1,849 Iraqi households between May and July 2006.

I do not doubt that this figure will be disputed. But it should also be pointed out that the United States itself has not kept track of civilian casualties since the early days of the war and has no counter-number to offer; and that the director of the Baghdad mosque has been quoted, time and again, as saying that the numbers he sees in the press (i.e. about 100 dead per day) do not match the numbers he has in his books.

I’m afraid that once the numbers are dismissed as “politics” (and they already have!), the media will move on. But if these numbers are correct, then the Bush administration may have killed more civilians than Saddam. Shouldn’t this make statisticians run to their calculators and tell us whether the study’s result are accurate? Welcome to the new, liberated Iraq. No one asks questions.

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