Dear Letters Editor:

The Op-ed chart on "How are things really going in Iraq?" by Ms. Adriana de Albuquerque and Mr. Michael O’Hanlon contained grossly incorrect numbers (November 14). They claimed that the annualize murder rate in Baghdad from April to October this year ranged from an incredible 100 to 185 per 100,000 people. The number was contrasted to the District of Columbia's murder rate in 2002 of 45.8 per 100,000 people. While the Baghdad "murder" rate came from another Times article by Neil MacFarquhar (9/16), the authors ignore that MacFarquhar clearly stated that these deaths included "automobile accidents" and cases where people "were shot dead by American soldiers," not just murders.

More importantly, other figures do not paint such a dreary picture. For example, the U.S. Army 1st Division in Baghdad reports that the annualized murder rate in Baghdad in August was 15.9, not the 185 reported in the article.


John R. Lott, Jr.
Resident Scholar
American Enterprise Institute
1150 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 862-4884

Addendum: Information on the October 2003 numbers used by Ms. Adriana de Albuquerque and Mr. Michael O’Hanlon is available from an October 11th piece in the Irish Times. It is also very clear from this article that many deaths reported for October did not involve murder were also included in the total of 667.

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