Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Study in Lies

Remember in 2006 when the leftwingers shouted with horror (and glee, because it proved how horrid the U.S. was) that a study had found 600,000 Iraqi civilians dead since the war began? I heard this number ad nauseum from my leftwing friends.

The WaPo included the number in this piece. Fox News quoted it with some skepticism. But CNN headlined it.

Turns out, Fox was right to be skeptical because it was a bunch of bull:

It's probably no coincidence that one of the authors — Roberts — just happened to oppose the removal of Saddam Hussein from his dictator's throne and has confessed he tried to influence the 2004 U.S. elections by timing the release of a previous study that made the war look much worse than it was.

Roberts also ran — unsuccessfully — as a Democrat for New York's 24th congressional district in 2006. He told the National Journal that "a combination of Iraq and (Hurricane) Katrina just put me over the top."
Meanwhile, "Burnham admitted that he set the same condition" on the second report.

IBD didn't believe the numbers from the start because they didn't jive with our government's numbers or the Iraqi government's numbers or even another anti-war group with causality numbers, which was 44,000 to 49,000. Higher than the govt's, but a BIT less than over 600,000, If you want to call 550,000 a bit less.

Naturally anti-Bush and anti-war forces have thrown the higher numbers around as if they were indisputable fact, not fraud.
At least one media outlet, though, used its journalistic instincts to take a critical look at the study. The National Journal let Neil Munro and Carl M. Cannon use that publication's Jan. 4 cover story to detail what they discovered after months of scrutiny.
Headlined "Data Bomb," the story identifies three problems:
• "Possible flaws in the design and execution of the study."
• "A lack of transparency in the data, which has raised suspicions of fraud."
The authors have refused to provide the data they used to reach their conclusions. Part of the reason might lie in what should be their professional shame for letting unsupervised Iraqis go into neighborhoods and ask survey questions.
• "Political preferences held by the authors and the funders, which include George Soros's Open Society Institute."
Almost half of the study's $100,000 price tag was paid for by "an outspoken billionaire who has repeatedly criticized the Iraq campaign and who spent $30 million trying to defeat Bush in 2004."


Yet the wildly exaggerated 2006 Lancet study was not just accepted by the media, it was exalted. Why?
Again, the National Journal has the answer: "Probably because its findings fit an emerging narrative: Iraq was a horrific mess."
Of course the National Journal's expose will never get the same media attention that was heaped upon the original Lancet study. Its sober analysis does not fit the narrative.

Of course those false numbers will continue to be bantered about. The media won't correct it. The left will most certainly not. Why be honest when you can make the U.S. look bad?

Even the much lower numbers are a sad fact of war. I don't discount or dismiss them. But to use data and stand behind a false study in order to push a political agenda, using war at the time of war, is unforgivable.

h/t BigDog