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Questions on Iraq Violence Reporters Won't Answer

Posted by libhom Friday, November 30, 2007

There are two questions I have been emailing reporters lately when they write that the violence in Iraq is decreasing. The wordings have varied, but the gist has been as follows.

What are your sources for your claim that the violence in Iraq is decreasing?

Is your claim based exclusively on statements from the Pentagon?

Reporters never reply to these emails. This is especially interesting since reporters usually will email me back when I criticize or ask questions about a story.

Hrmmmmmm.

11 comments

  1. LT Nixon Says:
  2. Libhom,

    You questioned on my blog whether the violence was really down in Iraq. Being an officer serving in Baghdad funded by your taxdollars, I feel that it is my responsibility to give you the truth. I see that you are from NYC, so I'm providing an article from the NY Times that should clarify that the reporting comes from a combination of coalition reports, Iraqi police reports, and Iraqi ministry reports. I hope this alleviates any concerns.

    Respectfully,

    LT Nixon

     
  3. Bryan Says:
  4. It's also worth pointing out that reports indicating a high level of violence came from those same sources.

    If you don't trust the sources then you have no basis for either the supposition that violence is high or violence is low, much less judge the fluctuation between the two.

     
  5. libhom Says:
  6. lt nixon: One problem with what you are saying is that the sources you are siting all are under influence of the Bush administration. That certainly includes the NY Times, which acted as a stenographer service for the Bush administration's pre-war claims on Iraq, all of which were false.

    bryan: There are independent sources which place the numbers of deaths in Iraq as of the fall of 2006 at over 650,000. These sources, in the peer reviewed British medical journal Lancet, are consistently higher than those cited by the New York Times.

     
  7. Bryan Says:
  8. libhom,

    You did not address the content of my post. I did not mention the New York Times. That was Lt. Nixon.

    If you wait for the next Lancet study you'll be waiting months before you have any idea regarding what's going on in Iraq, and of course you'll be ignoring the scores of criticisms of the Lancet's methodology.
    The Wikipedia entry touches on a number of such.

    In essence, LH, your apparent assumption that "independent"=reliable is eminently questionable.

     
  9. libhom Says:
  10. The criticisms of the Lancet studies you mention are specious. The pundits making them did not have the qualifications to judge them. On the other hand, scientists doing peer reviews for Britain's most prestigious medical journal were eminently qualified.

    Also, the methodology used for the Lancet studies was overwhelmingly accepted for disasters such as the Tsunami and only was attacked when the US far right didn't like the outcome.

    Independent sources are more reliable than ones with axes to grind. That shouldn't be too difficult to figure out.

    This is especially the case in a war where the sources in the media and the government that are telling us the violence is decreasing are the ones that told us that there were WMDs in Iraq (despite the overwhelming pre-war evidence to the contrary) and ties between the mortal enemies Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussin.

    Also, it is a standard practice for military propaganda to make false claims of victory in order to boost morale and increase support for wars.

    Under these circumstances, any reasonable person would question the claims of reduced violence in Iraq.

     
  11. Bryan Says:
  12. "The pundits making them did not have the qualifications to judge them."

    You don't know what you're talking about, LH.

    Did you even bother checking the Wikipedia entry?

    Some clusters were not sampled randomly. The researchers made an exception for themselves in violent areas. Explain how that's not a valid criticism.

    "Also, it is a standard practice for military propaganda to make false claims of victory in order to boost morale and increase support for wars."

    You have yet to explain how the military's numbers indicated high violence (refer again to my first post to the reply thread).

     
  13. libhom Says:
  14. bryan: The exception for the most violent areas means that the numbers in the Lancet study are minimums. The actual numbers of Iraqis killed are even higher. The authors acknowledged this in the study. That hardly refutes the main point here that the numbers of killed we get in the media are way too low.

    If you had taken the trouble to learn about the Lancet study before now, you already would know this.

    I have addressed the point you made in your first post, though you have failed to acknowledge it. The earlier military numbers vastly underestimated the killings in Iraq, as the Lancet studies demonstrated.

     
  15. Bryan Says:
  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.  
  17. LT Nixon Says:
  18. Libhom,

    For a more accurate death toll in Iraq, I recommend Iraq Body Count which puts the civilian death toll between 77,000 and 82,000. And it is NOT under the influence of the Pentagon or the Bush administration. Just trying to help out.

    LT Nixon
    Baghdad

     
  19. Bryan Says:
  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.  
  21. libhom Says:
  22. LT Nixon:

    The Iraq Body Count is only a very low ceiling for the number of actual Iraqi deaths. The main problem with it is that it depends on sources in the puppet government in Iraq.

    1) The Bush administration, early in the war, prohibited the "Iraqi government" from giving full reports on civilian casualties in the country's morgues.

    2) The Bush administration also has blocked independent observers from the morgues, preventing actual counts at any given time.

    3) Many Iraqis avoid reporting deaths of relatives to government agencies due to fear of suspicion by US troops, religious militias, and Iraqi police.

    To get an accurate accounting, one needs to use the same methods to count the dead that were used during the Tsunami and other natural disasters.

     

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