In a story funded by a pro-war billionaire, Brendan Montague, who seems to know which side of his bread is buttered on, writes:

A STUDY that claimed 650,000 people were killed as a result of the invasion of Iraq was partly funded by the antiwar billionaire George Soros.

Soros, 77, provided almost half the £50,000 cost of the research, which appeared in The Lancet, the medical journal. Its claim was 10 times higher than consensus estimates of the number of war dead.

It is untrue that its claim was 10 times greater than consensus estimates.

The study, published in 2006, was hailed by antiwar campaigners as evidence of the scale of the disaster caused by the invasion, but Downing Street and President George Bush challenged its methodology.

I wonder why Montague forgot to mention the attacks from Downing Street were dishonest since the government’s scientific advice was that the methods were “close to best practice” and the design “robust”. Oh right, Montague is being paid by a pro-war billionaire.


Professor John Tirman of MIT said this weekend that $46,000 (£23,000) of the approximate £50,000 cost of the study had come from Soros’s Open Society Institute.

I checked with Tirman and he said a few other things to Montague that are mysteriously absent from Montague’s story.

The survey was not funded by Soros. It was funded by MIT. OSI only provided funds for public education. And the authors of the study weren’t even aware of the OSI funding, so there was no possible way Soros could have influenced them. Why didn’t this appear in Montague’s story? Oh right, Montague is being paid by a pro-war billionaire.

And predictably the same collection of war bloggers who went nuts over the Soros-funded-the-Lancet story last week, went nuts again. I think half of them don’t even realize that it’s the same story.

Comments

  1. #1 guthrie
    January 13, 2008

    A media magnate who says, according to the Guardian piece:

    “Once it [Iraq] is behind us, the whole world will benefit from cheaper oil which will be a bigger stimulus than anything else.”

    So, it is ok to invade another country in order to free up their resources for further exploitation by major multinational corporations. HHmm, where have I heard that one before?

  2. #2 Charles H.
    January 13, 2008

    One more reason to steer clear of the Lancet published study. Politics and the ideologies of the major particpants are too close to the study and have tainted it in the public perception.

    Soros didn’t fund the study? If it was soley a study, why did Soros provide funds for “public education” relating to it?

  3. #3 dhogaza
    January 13, 2008

    Soros didn’t fund the study? If it was soley a study, why did Soros provide funds for “public education” relating to it?

    A foundation that Soros supports (NOT Soros) gave money to MIT for public education of the study results.

    Just in case you haven’t noticed, Les Roberts et al are at arms length from MIT, and we have the word of the MIT guy that they had no idea that Soros’ foundation was giving money.

    So this entire line of questioning is total horseshit.

    Even David Kane says so (though I’m sure he’ll change his story if it becomes convenient to do so in the future).

  4. #4 Charles H.
    January 13, 2008

    What’s this “public education” thing about the study results? Is it a study or a propaganda exercise?

    We’ve seen what types of things Soros foundations often support, so the question of political taint is relevant. That the money from Soros flows through a foundation of his does not change the fact that the money came from Soros.

    Too much ideological and political baggage is attached to this study.

    We have the “word” of Tirman, big deal. He is also an ideologue with a possible agenda and a possible axe to grind. That alone is enough to raise questions about the impartiality of the study.

  5. #5 guthrie
    January 13, 2008

    Umm, Charles, you might like to try and think rationally for a second. There is no evidence that anyone knew where the money came from and influenced the study accordingly. If you think otherwise, please say so, since your just sounding like a brain dead zombie.

    “sooorrroooossss. Sssoooorrrooossss.”

  6. #6 Boris
    January 13, 2008

    “We’ve seen what types of things Soros foundations often support, so the question of political taint is relevant.”

    What is it about Soros that makes wingnuts go crazy? Whatever it is, I hope they bottle it so I can spray it on my lawn.

    Of course, Charles, Soros gave money so that the researchers could go back in time and commit fraud. I admit it. This makes perfect sense in the right wing blogosphere, where Iraqi corpses smell like roses and create jobs. Dreamy.

  7. #7 Charles H.
    January 13, 2008

    Yes guthrie, it is pure coincidence that the study, for ill-defined “educational purposes”, just happened to receive money from billionaire Soros who was just happened to be committed to defeating Bush. Just happened.

    On the flip side, Tim Lambert offers no evidence either that Brendan Montague knows “which side of his bread is buttered on”, but believes his unfounded insinuation to be sufficient to prove that Montague has been bought.

    Lastly, Soros does not make “wingnuts” go crazy. He funds wingnuts, his track record is quite clear on that.

  8. #8 RobW
    January 13, 2008

    Tim Lambert offers no evidence either that Brendan Montague knows “which side of his bread is buttered on”

    I know Newscorp journos are ignoramuses, Charle, but it’s going a bit far to allege they wouldn’t even know who owns the paper they work for.

  9. #9 cce
    January 13, 2008

    Since Soros didn’t fund the study, the assertion that he somehow influenced the researchers is completely without merit. If he funded the promotion of the study results, then more power too him, since it’s in the public’s best interest to know the true ramifications of this war.

  10. #10 trrll
    January 13, 2008

    What is it about Soros that makes wingnuts go crazy? Whatever it is, I hope they bottle it so I can spray it on my lawn.

    I think that a wealthy liberal philanthropist angers and terrifies them, because they regard the rich as natural allies of the right. A wealthy liberal like Sorros seems to go against nature.

    They know how effective wealthy right-wingers such as Scaife have been in funding right-wing causes. So they try to deal with him in the same way they deal with all opposition, by character assassination, with the goal of convincing the public that anything funded by Sorros, no matter how slight or indirect his contribution, is irretrievably tainted.

  11. #11 Chris O'Neill
    January 13, 2008

    One more reason to steer clear of the Lancet published study. Politics and the ideologies of the major particpants are too close to the study and have tainted it in the public perception.

    So if the truth is tainted “in the public perception” then the truth should be hidden.

  12. #12 Charles H.
    January 13, 2008

    “”I know Newscorp journos are ignoramuses, Charle, but it’s going a bit far to allege they wouldn’t even know who owns the paper they work for.”” – RobW

    Only an ignoramus would assume that is all Tim Lambert is inferring. If in doubt, read the headline for the post:

    “”Pro-war billionaire funds attack on Lancet study””

    It is wrong to impugn the Tirman study without evidence but it is perfectly OK to impugn hundreds of journalists, without evidence, as Tim Lambert has. Gotta love that consistency!

    “”So if the truth is tainted “in the public perception” then the truth should be hidden.”” – Chris O’Neill

    The truth should never be hidden. But is the Tirman study “the truth”? Or do you support it (to the exclusion of other more exhaustive reports) because it fits your version of “the truth”?

  13. #13 QrazyQat
    January 13, 2008

    “…the whole world will benefit from cheaper oil which will be a bigger stimulus than anything else.”

    The cheaper oil will be cheaper relative to the high price it’s at because the price was driven up by the Iraq war. So you go from $35/barrel to over $90/barrel, then get cheaper oil at, say $60/barrel. I’m so grateful — it was so worth all those billions of dollars and deaths and injuries, the loss of US’s remaining credibility, the hollowing out of our military and diplomatic corps, the increased terrorist threat due to the boost we gave to recruitment of terrorists.

  14. #14 hamishm
    January 13, 2008

    Where do the figures that Montague uses come from eg. $46,000 (£23,000)? I can find no record of Tirman making a public announcement of them.

  15. #15 pough
    January 13, 2008

    It is wrong to impugn the Tirman study without evidence but it is perfectly OK to impugn hundreds of journalists, without evidence, as Tim Lambert has. Gotta love that consistency!

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone get the point before while at the same time really not getting the point. This is like a textbook example of stupid. Is it serious? Is someone doing the sockpuppet thing as a joke or something?

  16. #16 ben
    January 13, 2008

    “…the whole world will benefit from cheaper oil which will be a bigger stimulus than anything else.”

    Like, I haven’t seen any. Who is this Murdoch dipshit anyway?

  17. #17 Charles H.
    January 13, 2008

    “”I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone get the point before while at the same time really not getting the point. This is like a textbook example of stupid. Is it serious? Is someone doing the sockpuppet thing as a joke or something?””
    – pough

    Gee pough, if you can’t see the double-standard in play then I can’t help you. Might be time to take the blinders off.

  18. #18 Eli Rabett
    January 14, 2008

    When you think it can’t get dumber, they bring on even dumber trolls. sooorrroooossss. sssoooorrrooossss

  19. #19 fatfingers
    January 14, 2008

    Charles, the title was clearly poking fun at people drawing such a long bow as to say Soros funded the study. What is it about non-lefties not having a sense of humour? ;-)

  20. #20 Charles H.
    January 14, 2008

    fatfingers, Tim Lambert has a sense of humor? Now you’re really playing a joke on me.

    ‘Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq:’
    “We estimate that 98 000 more deaths than expected (95% CI 8000-194 000) happened after the invasion . . .”

    So the authors of the study are 95% confident that the excess number of deaths could be 8,000 deaths or any other number going up to 194,000.

    As one critic of the study said: “This isn’t an estimate. It’s a dart board.”

  21. #21 dhogaza
    January 14, 2008

    As one critic of the study said: “This isn’t an estimate. It’s a dart board.”

    one where the darts land in a normal distribution …

  22. #22 Martin Wisse
    January 14, 2008


    What is it about Soros that makes wingnuts go crazy? Whatever it is, I hope they bottle it so I can spray it on my lawn.

    Good old anti-semitism, of course.

  23. #23 Jeff Harvey
    January 14, 2008

    Charles H:

    Let me ask you this. Considering they illegally invaded Iraq, why haven’t the American and British governments tried to put to rest the controversy surrounding the actual death toll as a result of the invasion and carried out their own, detailed analysis?

    The answer is threefold: first, the aggressors didn’t really care how many were killed. It wasn’t their expressed intention to kill Iraqi civilians, but hey, when you are pursuing a political and ideological agenda there are going to be casualties. Thus, considering that brown-skinned people are forever ‘expendable’ in the eyes of the western political/corporate establishment, controlling a region of ‘stupendous strategic importance’ and the ‘greatest material prize in history’ (US State Department, 1950) was worth the cost in their view.

    Second, the US and UK governments were and are concerned at the public relations damage that would occur if the true number of dead were to be revealed. This is why the war party derided the IBC counts until the Lancet studies were published. Then, suddenly, the IBC estimate started getting serious support from the pro-aggression lobby simply because it was a lot lower than the Lancet results.

    Third, as long as no official count is undertaken, then any estimate is purely seen as conjecture, and can be dismissed as such. What is true is that aggressor nations never tally the body counts that result from the wars they initiate. I have seen the same trick used to deny environmental problems such as biodiversity loss, acid rain and climate change. So long as there is not 100% unequivocol proof of a process, then the problem does not exist. The war party is using this tried and trusted method to dismiss any notion that the invasion created carnage and a human catastrophe in Iraq.

  24. #24 fatfingers
    January 14, 2008

    Charles H, since you missed this joke, perhaps it’s possible the rest went over your head too, and that’s why you don’t think Tim can be funny?

  25. #25 John Tirman
    January 14, 2008

    The Open Society Institute money for the survey publicity was never a secret. It never occurred to me, frankly, that “Soros” would become such a lightning rod, because I assumed people would understand that OSI and the other donors were interested in stimulating public debate on an under-appreciated topic and nothing more. Public education is just that—creating opportunities to engage the public on this important issue: paying for distribution of the study (we did our own version, with appendices, in addition to that appearing in the Lancet, http://web.mit.edu/cis/human-cost-war-101106.pdf), public lectures, travel, etc., and the Web site that now presents the issue, including critics: http://web.mit.edu/humancostiraq/. The initial survey and analysis was paid for with funds from internal sources.

    To repeat: “Soros” had no influence on the survey, period. And the survey analysis was released as soon as it was ready, not timed for the election.

    The Soros Derangement Syndrome is fascinating. I think trrll is correct: he’s viewed, like FDR was, as a traitor to his class. No one—no one—in private life has done more to promote a key tenet of conservative politics, the open society. His foundation has done remarkable things over the years by anyone’s standards. Like Ted Turner and Bill Gates, he is a model for philanthropy. This kind of vilification borders on the psychopathic.

    For what it’s worth, my own analysis of the NJ article (the root of all this nonsense) can be found, linked from the front page of my personal web site: http://www.johntirman.com/

  26. #26 Eli Rabett
    January 14, 2008

    John, it is not on the border, it is deep into black helicopter land.

  27. #27 dhogaza
    January 14, 2008

    John, it is not on the border, it is deep into black helicopter land.

    However, diagnosis can be difficult, as it is easily confused with Gore derangement syndrome. Making things even more difficult is that both often occur in the same person, at the same time.

  28. #28 ben
    January 14, 2008

    “Good old anti-semitism, of course.”

    Soros is Jewish?

  29. #29 dhogaza
    January 14, 2008

    Yes, he is.

    He’s done some truly despicable things that conservatives can’t forgive him for.

    Like … helping fund Solidarity in Poland in the 1980s. Like working with similar organizations in other countries in the eastern block, work that helped destabilize the USSR.

    And, in Paul Volcker’s words …

    “The bulk of his enormous winnings is now devoted to encouraging transitional and emerging nations to become ‘open societies,’ open not only in the sense of freedom of commerce but – more important – tolerant of new ideas and different modes of thinking and behavior.”

    Truly an anti-american character all true patriots must loath.

    Right?

  30. #30 Tom Rees
    January 14, 2008

    Just supposing some anti-war organization funded a study trying to figure out the number of civilian casualties. And that (as appears to be the case) no pro-war body funds a study into it. A priori of the actual results, what would that tell you about the likely level of civilian casualties?

    In other words, of course anti-war organizations are more interested in getting (and publicizing) hard facts on civilian casualties than are the pro-war lobby. That’s because the number of civilian casualties has been horrific…

  31. #31 Chris O'Neill
    January 14, 2008

    Charles H:

    The truth should never be hidden. But is the Tirman study “the truth”?

    That wasn’t the argument in which I pointed out the defect. Your original argument for steering clear of the Lancet published study was:

    “Politics and the ideologies of the major particpants are too close to the study and have tainted it in the public perception.”

    Now you’ve abandoned your original argument and moved on to another one. I’ll take that as an admission that your original argument was bogus and thus you were intentionally trying to deceive us with a bogus argument. You have destroyed your credibility by doing this.

  32. #32 Hume's Ghost
    January 14, 2008

    Maybe movement conservatives hate the OSI because it actually promotes demcoracy. It’s really baffling to see such animus directed towards an organization that helped speed up the falled of Soviet communism in Europe.

  33. #33 ben
    January 14, 2008

    “He’s done some truly despicable things that conservatives can’t forgive him for.”

    We get a little upset when foreign billionaires pump their money into support for gun control in our country.

  34. #34 dhogaza
    January 14, 2008

    Oh, Ben, I’m so sorry, but George Soros is a citizen of the United States.

    So this is HIS country, too.

    Day after day, you increasingly show your true stripes. You are TRULY only interested in yourself and your own beliefs.

    People like you are why we NEED the protections of individual liberty found in our Constitution.

  35. #35 ben
    January 14, 2008

    “Oh, Ben, I’m so sorry, but George Soros is a citizen of the United States.”

    My mistake.

    “Day after day, you increasingly show your true stripes. You are TRULY only interested in yourself and your own beliefs.”

    When was the last time you were interested in my beliefs? I’m guessing never. Seems you too are only interested in yourself and your own beliefs.

    “People like you are why we NEED the protections of individual liberty found in our Constitution.”

    I’m all for that. Seems Soros is the one with problems with the constitution.

  36. #36 dhogaza
    January 14, 2008

    When was the last time you were interested in my beliefs? I’m guessing never.

    You’ve forgotten those posts about taxes and health care in the US vs. Canada? I remember being very concerned about your belief that the tax rate here is only about 1/3 that in Canada, concerned because you were so, so, so wrong. And seem to make decisions based upon your inability to add line 3 to line 8 and get tax on line 10 in both countries.

    Seems you too are only interested in yourself and your own beliefs.

    I make enough so that if I were only interested in myself, I certainly wouldn’t support universal health care. I’ll be one of the “losers” (in selfish-RW-speak) because I can afford whatever bills my insurer throws my way.

  37. #37 ben
    January 14, 2008

    “I make enough so that if I were only interested in myself, I certainly wouldn’t support universal health care. I’ll be one of the “losers” (in selfish-RW-speak) because I can afford whatever bills my insurer throws my way.”

    So you’re the well off one who wants to ram “universal” health care down my poor butt. Thanks, but no thanks.

    Me, I actually prefer individual liberty.

  38. #38 dhogaza
    January 14, 2008

    Me, I actually prefer individual liberty.

    Except for George Soros, or me, for that matter. Because individual liberty also involves the liberty to promote the general welfare – which was one of the reasons for creating this country, as anyone who reads the preamble to the Constitution understands.

    You have a vision for this country which is the antithesis of that of the founders.

  39. #39 Charles H.
    January 14, 2008

    “”Charles H, since you missed this joke, perhaps it’s possible the rest went over your head too, and that’s why you don’t think Tim can be funny?”” – fatfingers

    I’m in the midst of a nasty flu, lots of things are going over my head at present, such as weak attempts at humor.

    “”Now you’ve abandoned your original argument and moved on to another one. I’ll take that as an admission that your original argument was bogus and thus you were intentionally trying to deceive us with a bogus argument. You have destroyed your credibility by doing this.”” – Chris O’Neill

    Whatever you say Chris. There are multiple legitimate avenues on which to criticize the Tirman study, political associations being only one of them.

  40. #40 ben
    January 14, 2008

    Except for George Soros, or me, for that matter. Because individual liberty also involves the liberty to promote the general welfare – which was one of the reasons for creating this country, as anyone who reads the preamble to the Constitution understands.

    You have a vision for this country which is the antithesis of that of the founders.

    I don’t think the founders had welfare in mind when the spoke of the “general welfare,” since it requires government coersion, i.e. threat of force, in order to work. That was the antithesis of the founders, not me disliking Soros and his gun-control crap. Seems to me the founders actually put something in the Bill of Rights to stop idiots like Soros.

  41. #41 dhogaza
    January 14, 2008

    I don’t think the founders had welfare in mind when the spoke of the “general welfare,” since it requires government coersion, i.e. threat of force, in order to work. That was the antithesis of the founders

    Which President put down the Whiskey Rebellion? By force?

  42. #42 ben
    January 14, 2008

    “Which President put down the Whiskey Rebellion? By force?”

    I don’t know what the “whiskey rebellion” was, but I doubt it matters. It was a “rebellion,” or so it seems from the title.

    Tell me, is there a difference between me forcing a grandma to give me her purse at gunpoint and a grandma shooting me as I try to steal her purse? That’s the difference, I think, between the two types of use of force we’re talking about.

  43. #43 dhogaza
    January 14, 2008

    Tell me, is there a difference between me forcing a grandma to give me her purse at gunpoint and a grandma shooting me as I try to steal her purse?

    Yes, George Washington did one, and not the other.

    Indeed, he personally took the field, as President, the only sitting President to command a US force in the field.

    To enforce the newly-founded Federal government’s right to collect on taxes it had passed, at, as you put it, gunpoint.

    A whole bunch of gunpoints. An Army’s worth, actually (though by today’s standards that Army was small).

  44. #44 dhogaza
    January 14, 2008

    BTW, if you really have a PhD in aerospace engineering, I must say that your education has been exceedingly narrow.

    I assume you’re not a total dumbfuck, just totally unaware of the history of the country you live in, of basic things like the tax you pay in the US, the true cost of health care in your old home (canada), etc.

    You apparently are guided by a simplistic, narrow-minded political philosophy uninformed by, for instance, the thoughts and actions of our founding fathers.

  45. #45 Nick Barnes
    January 14, 2008

    I don’t know what the “whiskey rebellion” was, but I doubt it matters

    Tells us all we need to know. Plunk!

  46. #46 ben
    January 14, 2008

    “You apparently are guided by a simplistic, narrow-minded political philosophy uninformed by, for instance, the thoughts and actions of our founding fathers.”

    I dunno, are you well versed in the history of the Metis Rebellion? I learned about that in Canadian high school instead of the Whiskey Rebellion.

    And tell me, dhogaza, which of the following were the brainchildren of any of our founders:

    Income Tax
    Gun Control
    Welfare
    Social Security
    Universal Health Care

    Seems to me that they’re not responsible for any of these boondoggles.

  47. #47 Chris O'Neill
    January 14, 2008

    There are multiple legitimate avenues on which to criticize the Tirman study, political associations being only one of them.

    Then why suddenly abandon it and move on to something else? I would be a fool to give credibility to someone who did this.

  48. #48 Charles H.
    January 15, 2008

    Chris, I was doing what people do on blogs; raise various points. Whether that makes you a fool or not only you can answer. ;)

  49. #49 Jeff Harvey
    January 15, 2008

    Charles H says: “Chris, I was doing what people do on blogs; raise various points”.

    Too bad Charles, that you can’t seem to answer simple ripostes like the one I made yesterday. Your strategy, as Chris has pointed out, is hit and run: make a rash argument, dodge the flack and move on.

    Pretty weak I say.

  50. #50 dhogaza
    January 15, 2008

    And tell me, dhogaza, which of the following were the brainchildren of any of our founders:

    Income Tax Gun Control Welfare Social Security Universal Health Care

    You are right. Universal Health Care was not a brainchild of any of our founders. Neither was modern medicine. Absent modern medicine, how to deliver modern standards of health care was not an issue.

    What is your solution to the development of medicine as a science and technology driven profession?

    Roll back the state of medical science to the level of 1781, so that we can remain faithful to our founders’ vision of health care for the people?

    Or to insist that an issue that didn’t exist in 1781 should be settled based on the views of people alive in 1781.

  51. #51 Barton Paul Levenson
    January 15, 2008

    ben writes:

    [[And tell me, dhogaza, which of the following were the brainchildren of any of our founders:
    Income Tax Gun Control Welfare Social Security Universal Health Care
    Seems to me that they’re not responsible for any of these boondoggles.
    ]]

    That awful boondoggle, Social Security!

    I doubt the Foundaing Fathers had any of the above in mind, simply because the concepts didn’t exist in their time. Each issue should probably be examined on its own merits.

  52. #52 Ian Gould
    January 15, 2008

    “Good old anti-semitism, of course.”

    Don’t be silly, the US right would never sink to such depths.

  53. #53 ben
    January 15, 2008

    “That awful boondoggle, Social Security!”

    Yes it is. I see that the Democrats never mention the phony “lock box” any more, since not even the biggest simps believe that one.

    “Good old anti-semitism, of course.”

    Don’t be silly, the US right would never sink to such depths.

    Sure “they” would, just go read Kos.

  54. #54 Chris O'Neill
    January 15, 2008

    I was doing what people do on blogs; raise various points.

    You were doing what people do on blogs: making an assertion that destroys their credibility.

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