Wednesday, 28 March 2007

The Real Cost

An FOI request this week by the BBC established that the British government accepted that the John Hopkins study on Iraq civilian deaths since the invasion was essentially accurate in that 650,00 civilians had died.

Both the British and American goverments had stated that they didn't consider the figures 'anywhere near accurate' and not 'a credible report'. However, it now comes to light that the UK Government's own Department for International Development disagreed.

They concluded that the study's methods were "tried and tested". Indeed, the Johns Hopkins approach would likely lead to an "underestimation of mortality".

The Ministry of Defence's chief scientific adviser said the research was "robust", close to "best practice", and "balanced". He recommended "caution in publicly criticising the study".

When these recommendations went to the prime minister's advisers, they were horrified. One person briefing Tony Blair wrote: "Are we really sure that the report is likely to be right? That is certainly what the brief implies?" A Foreign and Commonwealth Office official was forced to conclude that the government "should not be rubbishing the Lancet".

And the response to this at the time?

Tony Blair was advised to say: "The overriding message is that there are no accurate or reliable figures of deaths in Iraq".
I believe that Tony Blair must secretly grieve the loss of life but I'm not sure a conscience exists in the White House, particularly the Vice-President's office.

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