By Amy Goodman
"More than 650,000 people have died in Iraq since the U.S. led invasion of the country began in March of 2003. This is according to a new study published in the scientific journal, The Lancet. The study was conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad. Researchers based their findings on interviews with a random sampling of households taken in clusters across Iraq. The study is an update to a prior one compiled by many of the same researchers. That study estimated that around 100,000 Iraqis died in the first 18 months after the invasion.
Les Roberts joins us now from Syracuse, New York -- He is one of the main researchers of the study. He was with Johns Hopkins when he co-authored the study but has just taken a post at Columbia University.
LES ROBERTS: Sure, we, as you said, went to about 50 neighborhoods spread around Iraq that were picked at random, and each time we went, we knocked on 40 doors and asked people, “Who lived here on the first of January, 2002?” and “Who lived here today?” And we asked, “Had anyone been born or died in between?” And on those occasions, when people said someone die, we said, “Well, how did they die?” And we sort of wrote down the details: when, how old they were, what was the cause of death. And when it was violence, we asked, “Well, who did the killing? How exactly did it happen? What kind of weapon was used?” And at the end of the interview, when no one knew this was coming, we asked most of the time for a death certificate. And 92% of the time, people walked back into their houses and could produce a death certificate. So we are quite sure people didn’t make this up.
And our conclusion was comparing the death rate for that 14 months before the invasion, with the 40 months after, that the death rate is now about four times higher. And, in fact, it’s twice as high as when we last spoke two years ago and when we did our first study. So, things have gotten bad, as you stated. We think about 650,000 extra people have died because of this invasion, and about 600,000, some 90%, are from violence.
And when we reported this, we didn’t say it was 655,000 deaths. We said it was 655,000 deaths, and we’re 95% sure it’s between about 400,000 and 950,000. And that range of imprecision is capturing that variance between neighborhoods that you described, some places having a lot of violence, and some not. So there is less than a 2 percent chance that the number is well below 400,000. So, you know, it’s not precise. It’s incredibly hard to do this kind of work in times of war, and I think that this is awfully good, given the conditions.
READ THE REST OF THE TRANSCRIPT INCLUDING LES ROBERTS' ANSWER TO BUSH'S DENIAL AND TO ANTHONY CORDESMAN'S CHALLENGE