Archive for October, 2006

More on the Lancet’s “October Surprise”

Monday, October 16th, 2006

In  our posting of October 12th, the Daily Digest challenged the 10-11-06 Lancet article titled “Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey.”  The Johns Hopkins authors, led by Gilbert Burnham, purported to prove that the U.S.-led coalition had caused 650,000 deaths in Iraq – a number ten-to-twenty times greater than other researchers had averred.

Our critique focused on two issues:


Fit To Print

Friday, October 13th, 2006

“A Multi-National Division-North Soldier assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, N.C., died Friday, Oct. 6, as a result of enemy action while conducting operations near the city of Bayji.”

Stupid Time at the Lancet

Thursday, October 12th, 2006

In the current on-line Lancet (10/11/06), a team of Johns Hopkins authors headed by Prof. Gilbert Burnham present a calculation of Iraqi civilian casualties ten times greater than that of the Brooking Institute, and twenty times greater than that of the Pentagon.

“We estimate,” write the authors, “that as of July, 2006, there have been 654,965 excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war.” 


Not Fit to Print II

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

“Among the detainees were three high value individuals, including the number nine person on the division’s high-value target list and two others on the squadron’s high-value target list.

“The number nine HVI has allegedly been directly responsible for murders, extra judicial killings, criminal activities and attacks on Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces, said Lt. Col. Brian Winski, commander, 1st Sqdn., 61st Cav. Regt.”

Explaining Success Away

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

Army tops recruit goal by lowering standards,” screams the headline tacked onto an Associated Press story posted at


Not Fit To Print

Monday, October 9th, 2006

“Elsewhere in Al Anbar on Wednesday eight enemy were killed in action.  There were no Coalition Forces deaths.

“One insurgent was killed while laying an IED in Ramadi.  Six more insurgents engaged coalition forces in a separate event in Ramadi and were killed.  One armed insurgent was killed before he could attack the government center in Ramadi.”

Would This Leak Get A Headline?

Monday, October 9th, 2006

After reading the declassified portions of the National Intelligence Estimate, one has to wonder why only half the story was leaked?

And if the other half was leaked, would it have made headlines?


Ashraf Qazi has a problem

Thursday, October 5th, 2006

On September 23rd, Ashraf Qazi, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, has “expressed deep concern that efforts towards ensuring human rights and fundamental freedoms could be undermined” by the death penalty as administered by Iraqi courts.  


All in a days work

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

The Central Criminal Court of Iraq has conducted 1,537 trials of individuals accused of crimes against the Iraqi government and/or the Multi-National Force-Iraq.  Sentences ranging from light imprisonment to death have been meted to 1,309 defendents.


The Media Game

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2006

Robert Kaplan had a great–required– reading–type article in the LA Times last week.

The key graph:

“Iran’s power structure, armed with an admirable Persian gift for subtlety and manipulation, has restricted its own domestic organs of dissent so that it is well positioned to lay siege to media and political elites elsewhere.”