The carnage in war-torn Iraq is not in dispute – but now the cost in human terms is. A controversial new study puts the figures for those who have died as a result of the US-led invasion in March 2003 at far above what was previously thought – 655,000. George W. Bush says the report is not credible – an opinion echoed by US General in Iraq, George Casey: “The 650 000 number seems way, way beyond any number that I have seen. I’ve not seen a number higher than 50 000. And so I don’t give that much credibility at all.”
The figures are based on household interviews, not body counts. But Professor Gilbert Burnham insists they still carry weight:
“We are confident in our data. We have used tried and true methods, these are not things we invented, they are off the shelf, and many of them were developed with very strong financial and technical support from the US government.”
The researchers spoke to 1, 850 families living in 40 clusters around the country. The majority of deaths were reported after the invasion. The final total is achieved by extrapolation. But reliable data is difficult to obtain in Iraq, due to the dangerous conditions in the country. The Iraqi government puts the official death toll at around 40,000.