The Iraq Math War
Why the Centers For Disease Control and the Pentagon sought to discredit the first scientific tally of Iraq's civilian death toll carried out by Les Roberts and Gilbert Burnham
The White House struck back with its own basic message: The study was bunk. Never mind that Roberts and Burnham had used methods similar to those employed for the Kosovo survey and others approvingly cited by the Bush administration. With the notable exception of This American Life producer Alex Blumberg, most reporters dutifully slapped Roberts' research with the "controversial" label. And when asked about the study directly, President Bush declared that it had been "pretty well discredited."
"By whom? By him and his political staff?" snaps Bradley Woodruff, who retired last year from his job as a senior cdc epidemiologist. Woodruff has conducted mortality surveys himself, and considers Roberts' research solid. But when cbs's 60 Minutes sought to interview Woodruff about the Lancet study in 2007, the cdc wouldn't allow it. And when Rep. Dennis Kucinich invited Woodruff to Washington to discuss the study, his bosses nixed that, too. "I never had this kind of censorship under previous administrations," he says.