Back in 2006 in time to influence the congressional election the Lancet published a report estimating that the casualties in Iraq had exceeded 650,000. At the time I reckoned this to be a load of hogwash. Last week the Wall Street Journal published an article about the report. It turns out the Lancet study was funded by anti-Bush partisans and conducted by antiwar activists posing as objective researchers.
The Lancet death toll was more than 10 times what had been estimated by the U.S. and Iraqi governments, and even by human rights groups. It now appears that the Lancet study was funded by billionaire George Soros's Open Society Institute. Mr. Soros is a famous critic of the Iraq campaign and well-known partisan, having spent tens of millions trying to defeat Mr. Bush in 2004. Soros made much of his money by speculating against the pound sterling, forcing it out of the European monetary system.
Two co-authors of the report, Gilbert Burnham and Les Roberts of Johns Hopkins University, told the reporters that they opposed the war from the outset and sent their report to the Lancet on the condition that it be published before the election.
Lancet Editor Richard Horton agreed to rush the study into print, with an expedited peer review process, without seeing the surveyors' original data. I have met Richard Horton and took an instant dislike to him. He spoke at a meeting of the European Association of Science Editors that I attended. At first I thought it was just his youth that made him a conceited show-off, but as he has grown older I see that this is his nature. I cancelled my Lancet subscription shortly afterwards. Here's a quote from him, "The axis of Anglo-American imperialism extends its influence through war and conflict, gathering power and wealth as it goes, so millions of people are left to die in poverty and disease." You might remember Horton as the man who published the scandalous lies about the MMR vaccine.
The key person involved in collecting the Lancet data was Iraqi researcher, Riyadh Lafta, who has failed to follow the customary scientific practice of making his data available for inspection by other researchers. Mr. Lafta had been an official in Saddam's ministry of health when the dictator was attempting to end international sanctions against Iraq. He wrote articles asserting that many Iraqis were dying from cancer and other diseases caused by spent U.S. uranium shells from the Gulf War. These too were politically derived lies.