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"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
Sir Winston Churchill

1.04.2008

Remember That Lancet Study Claiming Hundreds of Thousands of Iraqi Deaths Following the U.S. Invasion?

National Journal has now completely debunked it.

This passage may be of particular interest:

Virtually everyone connected with the study has been an outspoken opponent of U.S. actions in Iraq. (So are several of the study's biggest critics, such as Iraq Body Count.) Whether this affected the authors' scientific judgments and led them to turn a blind eye to flaws is up for debate.


Follow the money. Lancet II was commissioned and financed by Tirman, the executive director of the Center for International Studies at MIT. (His most recent book is 100 Ways America Is Screwing Up the World.) After Lancet I was published, Tirman commissioned Burnham to do the second study, and sent him $50,000. When asked where Tirman got the money, Burnham told NJ: "I have no idea."
In fact, the funding came from the Open Society Institute created by Soros, a top Democratic donor, and from three other foundations, according to Tirman. The money was channeled through Tirman's Persian Gulf Initiative. Soros's group gave $46,000, and the Samuel Rubin Foundation gave $5,000. An anonymous donor, and another donor whose identity he does not know, provided the balance, Tirman said. The Lancet II study cost about $100,000, according to Tirman, including about $45,000 for publicity and travel. That means that nearly half of the study's funding came from an outspoken billionaire who has repeatedly criticized the Iraq campaign and who spent $30 million trying to defeat Bush in 2004.


Partisan considerations. Soros is not the only person associated with the Lancet studies who had one eye on the data and the other on the U.S. political calendar. In 2004, Roberts conceded that he opposed the Iraq invasion from the outset, and -- in a much more troubling admission -- said that he had e-mailed the first study to The Lancet on September 30, 2004, "under the condition that it come out before the election." Burnham admitted that he set the same condition for Lancet II. "We wanted to get the survey out before the election, if at all possible," he said.
"Les and Gil put themselves in position to be criticized on the basis of their views," Garfield concedes, before adding, "But you can have an opinion and still do good science." Perhaps, but the Lancet editor who agreed to rush their study into print, with an expedited peer-review process and without seeing the surveyors' original data, also makes no secret of his leftist politics. At a September 2006 rally in Manchester, England, Horton declared, "This axis of Anglo-American imperialism extends its influence through war and conflict, gathering power and wealth as it goes, so millions of people are left to die in poverty and disease." His speech can be viewed on YouTube.


Mr. Roberts tries to go to Washington. Roberts, who opposed removing Saddam from power, is the most politically outspoken of the authors. He initiated the first Lancet study and repeatedly used its conclusions to criticize Bush. "I consider myself an advocate," Roberts told an interviewer in early 2007. "When you start working documenting events in war, the public health response -- the most important public health response -- is ending the war."
In 2006, he acted on this belief, seeking the Democratic nomination for New York's 24th Congressional District before dropping out in favor of the eventual winner, Democrat Michael Arcuri. Asked why he ran for office, Roberts told NJ: "It was a combination of Iraq and [Hurricane] Katrina that just put me over the top. I thought the country was going in the desperately wrong direction, particularly with regard to public health and science."


Read the whole thing, if you can keep your lunch in your gullet while doing so.

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