July 20, 2004 – Prime Minister Tony Blairâ€™s office admitted that he exaggerated the number of bodies found in mass graves throughout Iraq by about 88 percent. The Observer revealed June 18 that its own calculations found that 5,000 bodies have been recovered from 55 gravesites; according to the British publication, Downing Street has confirmed the number. The Observer notes that an additional 215 suspected mass gravesites have yet to be examined and confirmed.
During a joint press conference held by Prime Minister Blair and President George W. Bush last year in London, Blair admonished critics of the countries' actions against Iraq, stating: "When we've already discovered just so far the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves -- there is something bizarre about these situations happening, and people saying that they disagree..."
Blair's claim was widely used as further justification for deposing Saddam Hussein. A graphic report from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) released this January entitled "Iraqâ€™s Legacy of Terror: Mass Graves" features the claim on its first page. A USAID press release dated June 15 also contains Blair's assertion.