Sunday, October 26, 2008

On Iraq: Big Disguise, Bigger Disinformation, Biggest Denial...

"The US and Britain have triggered an episode more deadly than the Rwandan genocide. On both sides of the Atlantic, a process of spinning science is preventing a serious discussion about the state of affairs in Iraq. For longer than the US has been a nation, Britain has pushed us at our worst of moments to do the right thing. That time has come again with regard to Iraq. It is wrong to be the junior partner in an endeavour rigged to deny the next death induced, and to have spokespeople effectively respond to that death with disinterest and denial." - Dr. Les Roberts (IndependentUK, 2.14.07).

"Dr. Les Roberts risked his life a few years ago to get some numbers that some people fiercely attack as inaccurate, misleading and that many others pay little or no attention to. Dr. Roberts, a physician and prominent public health scientist at Columbia University believes there is solid evidence that close to half a million people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the Iraq war. His statistics are about 10 times higher than the estimates put forth by the Bush administration and the Pentagon.

"But a much bigger problem than the numerical disparity is the simple fact that so few even ask.
I think it's important that every American understand the true magnitude of this tragedy," says Roberts.

Unfortunately, few in the media or in government appear to want to draw attention to the deaths that have so severely altered the lives of so many.

In 2004, Roberts and colleagues sneaked into Iraq with dyed beards and dressed in robes to conduct a series of mortality "cluster point" surveys in various communities. His team initially estimated the civilian death toll as at least 100,000 (two to three times the official estimate) but later analysis prompted him to raise the estimate. The findings were reported in the British medical journal, the Lancet in 2006.

"To help people understand this, given the population of Iraq, it would be like New York City having two 9/11 attacks every week over a period of three years,"
Roberts said.

Another report, issued in January, estimated that 151,000 Iraqis died from violence between March 2003 and June 2006. The estimate was based on projections by the Iraqi government and the World Health Organization.

"General David Petraeus testified earlier this year about the fewer deaths we're seeing in Iraq, but his numbers suggested that life in Baltimore was more violent than in Iraq."
Before a Congressional Hearing, Dr. Roberts wrote Senators asking them to challenge the statistics, but nobody uttered a word. News reporters stayed silent as well.

"Everybody wants to believe things are getting better because Republicans want to declare victory and Democrats want an excuse to get out. Meanwhile, the media continue to ignore the issue. My professional life and purpose is based on the belief that most of the time, valid data leads towards truth and that truth... can lead toward justice,"

-Tom Paulson (Excerpt: "Doctor Laments Brush-Off of Iraqi War Dead," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 10.24.08. Image: -American Colony, "Iraqis In The Streets," Library of Congress, Iraq, 1932 ).

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