Tom Gjelten takes on the Johns Hopkins study tonight. Jacki Lyden sets the table by telling listeners, "The number of Iraqis who have died violently since the US invasion in 2003 remains a mystery." Is that so?
The piece is an interesting case of NPR taking a "sideways" approach to discrediting news that doesn't fit the official story. I say sideways, because Gjelten doesn't assert that the Bush 30,000 or the Iraq Body Count's 49,000 is accurate. In fact he quotes a National Democratic Institute guy who thinks the number is more around the 100,000 figure. Regardless of these partial concessions to reality, notice how Gjelten attacks the respected Johns Hopkins study.
After citing the numbers of dead in the report and the breakdown of dead at the hands of US and "coalition" forces Gjelten says with slow, deliberate emphasis, "This would mean US and foreign troops shooting and killing on average 87 Iraqis each and every day over a three and a half year period" and then, with no pause, a different voiceover comes in "...it doesn’t meet the, you know, the plausabiltity test." Again with no pause Gjelten's voice cuts in to say, "Jeffrey White, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst, is among those doubting the Johns Hopkins figure" and then finally with no pause, we are back to White saying, "nothing we know about the war in Iraq looks like that." I will admit that it is a skillful bit of sound editing -- worthy of a DIA employee!
Later in the report Gjelten states "Some researchers have criticized the Johns Hopkins surveyors for not using a large enough sample or taking sufficient steps to insure that it was representative of the entire Iraqi population." I'd like to know exactly who these "researchers" are and what agencies they work for.
It's interesting because I did a little of my own math and found that the average of 87 Iraqis killed "each and every day" is not so hard to accept (though it is hard to stomach.) Based on the war and occupation of Iraq lasting 3.5 years I found that the US figure of about 25,000 troops wounded and killed comes out to an average of about 20 US troops killed or seriously wounded every single day. As Left I on the News has noted the typical US response to an attack has been to unleash overwhelming deadly force, a 4:1 ratio of killing seems within reason.
Perhaps what NPR finds really implausible is that our government and its military would slaughter so many people. Maybe they think our country is just too noble and peaceful to do such things. But I did another little bit of depressing math. I calculated the Vietnam War to last 10 years (3650 days) with a death toll of 2 million Vietnamese killed (a conservative estimate) and came up with the figure of 548 humans killed "each and every single day" by the Americans. My conclusion is that 87 killed a day in Iraq by the US meets the "plausibility test" in spite of what Pentagon apologist Jeffery White and NPR wants us to believe.