Is America Fudging the Numbers of Syrian Casualties?

But is it real?Credit: FreedomHouse / Foter / CC BYWhen Secretary of State John Kerry picked up his mallets to beat the drums of war he told us all that the Syrian government had killed nearly 1,500 people in a chemical attack in August, more than 400 of which were children.

But is it true? The Los Angeles Times went hunting and discovered the United States is nearly alone in thinking the numbers are that large:

Britain and France have cited far lower numbers of confirmed deaths, raising questions about the intelligence the White House is using to make its case to launch missile strikes against Syria.

U.S. officials say they can't disclose how they derived their figure without compromising intelligence, but they say it is based on a variety of sources and they stand by it.

British intelligence organizations said last week that they believed at least 350 people had been killed. French intelligence said Monday that it had confirmed at least 281 deaths through open-source videos, although its experts had created models that were consistent with as many as 1,500 deaths.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, generally regarded as one of the most reliable sources of information on casualty figures in Syria, says it has confirmed 502 deaths, including 80 children and 137 women. Rami Abdul-Rahman, a Syrian expatriate who runs the organization from his home in Britain, said he was shocked by the White House's count.

"I don't know where this number came from," Abdul-Rahman said in a phone interview.

Abdul-Rahman theorized the United States got these numbers from opposition groups within Syria who exaggerate the numbers in the hopes of getting us involved in the war. Anonymous officials defended the estimate and say it may actually be even higher.

Read the Times story here, and kudos to Ken Dilanian and Shashank Bengali for actually investigating the numbers.

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  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Confirms my suspicion that *somebody* was fudging, but I am not yet convinced the US is the source. Current pet theory is that this administration is falling for a story, willingly, in the same manner that the leftists of the 1920s-today fall for anything Marxist/Soviet/Cuban.

  • Austrian Anarchy||

    Yes, something like this:


    Abdul-Rahman theorized the United States got these numbers from opposition groups within Syria who exaggerate the numbers in the hopes of getting us involved in the war. Anonymous officials defended the estimate and say it may actually be even higher.
  • Dweebston||

    Or it's the other way around.

    U.S. official: Listen, guys, 500 deaths is pretty grotesque, but you know what would be worse? Like, three times that number.

  • Hyperion||

    Obama needs a REALLY BIG pile of dead children to leap upon and crow for his new war, that isn't really a war. 80 dead children? Pile too small, make it bigger. Presto! 400 dead children! Leap oh dear leader, leap!

  • DJF||

    People lying about a war, I am shocked.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "They lie beautifully, of course. I saw debates in Congress. A congressman asks Mr Kerry: 'Is al Qaeda there?' He says: 'No, I am telling you responsibly that it is not'," Putin said at a meeting of his human rights council in the Kremlin.

    "Al Qaeda units are the main military echelon, and they know this," he said, referring to the United States. "It was unpleasant and surprising for me - we talk to them, we proceed from the assumption that they are decent people. But he is lying and knows he is lying. It's sad."

    Putin did not give any more details.

    http://www.reuters.com/article.....N620130904

  • RBS||

    Putin should check his assumptions.

  • Loki||

    Yeah, it's entirely possible that John Kerry is really just that stupid.

  • ||

    They cant tell us how they arrived at that number.

    So, they make a proclamation, cant confirm how they got there because it is soopersekret. That gets exposed as a bald-faced lie. They do this over and over. It seems that on every occasion when they site soopersekret they are lying.

    Why does anyone believe anything they say?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...although its experts had created models that were consistent with as many as 1,500 deaths.

    Expert models, eh?

  • WTF||

    The science is settled!

  • Loki||

    An administration fudging the intelligence to sell us into a war? Choco-Nixon would never something like that. I mean, that would be totally Bush league...

  • rbenchley||

    Mrs. Iselin: Would it really make it easier for you if we settled on just one number?
    Sen. Iselin: Yeah. Just one, real, simple number that'd be easy for me to remember.
    [Mrs. Iselin watches Sen. Iselin pour Heinz Tomato Ketchup (with its "57 Varieties" slogan on its label) onto his dinner plate]
    [Cut to Senate chamber]
    Sen. Iselin: There are exactly 57 card-carrying members of the Communist Party in the Department of Defense at this time!

  • Jon Lester||

    That was far and away the best role of Angela Lansbury's career.

  • Rrabbit||

    They can't tell use that their main source is "curveball"

  • Killazontherun||

    We are a nation that went to war in part on the false testimony of a Kuwaiti embassy official's daughter who described babies being pulled out of incubators by Iraqis soldiers as if she were a nurse bearing witness to an atrocity. The Washington press corp had to have known who she was, but did not report the truth until after opinions had been formed and set in stone. Extreme skepticism of everything that comes out of Washington is the only way to not get sucked into its maelstrom of lies.

  • Jon Lester||

    About the time stamps on opposition-owned web sites supposedly predating the 8/21 attack - shouldn't we have seen some investigation into that by now? Wouldn't the pro-administration media have debunked it if they could?

  • Killazontherun||

    A glitch in the reality based community's matrix?

  • Pro Libertate||

    From The Wall Street Journal:

    Asked whether he would launch strikes in Syria if Congress doesn't authorize them, the president said: "As commander in chief I always preserve the right and the responsibility to act on behalf of America's national security. I don't believe that I was required to take this to Congress. But I did not take this to Congress because I think it's an empty exercise."

    I don't give a fuck what you think, dude. I only care what the Constitution says. It says you have to go to Congress.

  • db||

    raising questions about the intelligence the White House is using to make its case to launch missile strikes against Syria.

    "Those are balls!"

    "We're lookin' at balls, over."

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