The estimate, produced by interviewing residents during a random sampling of households throughout the country, is far higher than ones produced by other groups, including Iraq's government.
It is more than 20 times the estimate of 30,000 civilian deaths that President Bush gave in a speech in December. It is more than 10 times the estimate of roughly 50,000 civilian deaths made by the British-based Iraq Body Count research group.
The surveyors said they found a steady increase in mortality since the invasion, with a steeper rise in the last year that appears to reflect a worsening of violence as reported by the U.S. military, the news media and civilian groups. In the year ending in June, the team calculated Iraq's mortality rate to be roughly four times what it was the year before the war.
Of the total 655,000 estimated "excess deaths," 601,000 resulted from violence and the rest from disease and other causes, according to the study. This is about 500 unexpected violent deaths per day throughout the country.The same group in 2004 published an estimate of roughly 100,000 deaths in the first 18 months after the invasion. That figure was much higher than expected, and was controversial. The new study estimates that about 500,000 more Iraqis, both civilian and military, have died since then -- a finding likely to be equally controversial.
It shouldn't be. A very informative episode of This American Life is quite persuasive in demonstrating that the study was in fact highly accurate, despite the claims of those who had a vested political and psychological interest in discrediting the study. Other contemporaneous reviews of the study also suggested that it was in fact fairly accurate. Expect to see the same criticisms from those who were opposed to the study's results the last time; I suppose to them arguing the figures down would somehow make the mess we've made of Iraq less of a travesty and a crime. As to the tragedy of this all...see Cohen's article below.
Update: The study is now available online(pdf).