When the New England Journal of Medicine published a new survey estimating 151,000 Iraqis died from violence since the invasion, the contrast in headlines from The Washington Post and New York Times brought a brief moment of levity to a grim subject. The Post declared: “New Estimate of Violent Deaths Among Iraqis Is Lower.” The Times blared: “W.H.O. Says Iraq Civilian Death Toll Higher Than Cited.” How to explain the two headlines? The Times noted the W.H.O numbers were higher than the Iraq Body Count totals while the Post reported that the new study put deaths at one-quarter the size of a study published in the British medical journal Lancet. The Times also mentioned the Lancet study but not until the final paragraph. What both articles failed to mention is that almost half the resources for the Lancet study were funded by George Soros’ Open Society Institute.

National Journal reported January 4, that not only did Soros’ group fund the most recent Lancet study, but the authors of the study admit that they published a previous Iraqi death count study to deliberately appear before the US election in 2004 (the authors have become a bit more savvy and did not admit such motivations for the latest Lancet study, but it was published three weeks before the 2006 midterm elections). National Journal notes the most recent study placed Iraqi causalities at “more than 10 times the number … estimated by the Iraqi or U.S. governments, or by any human-rights group.”

Soros sure got his money’s worth. The study was cited in 25 news shows and 188 articles in U.S. newspapers and magazines. A favorite talking point of progressives and war critics, National Journal highlights major flaws in the study including:

  • The key data collector worked for Saddam Hussein and has refused to answer questions about his methods.
  • A July car bomb was included despite plans to end data collection in June. This inclusion alone tripled the car bomb death estimate.
  • The survey teams failed to collect fraud preventing demographic data that pollsters routinely gather.
  • The sample size is so small that each recorded death translates into 2,000 estimated deaths.
  • Study estimates 70,000 dead in first battle of Falluja alone despite fact that pre-war population of Falluja was 250,000.