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Count The Dead In Iraq
March 18, 2003 7:44 PM   Subscribe

Iraq Body Count is a web "button" that can be cut and pasted to a website showing an updated tally of civilian casualties in the upcoming Iraqi war. Their methodology is to survey a broad swath of news sites and come up with a "high" and "low" number. They're probably more credible than Saddam's government or the Pentagon. (via TalkLeft)
posted by owillis (20 comments total)

 
Considering they're just quoting Saddam's government figures, this is BS.

Look at the March 5th incident on the body count page. Here is a source article. The US says they strike a military target, the Iraqis say it was civilian with 3 civilian casualites. Yet both the min and max deaths are 3. Shouldn't the min be zero? Of course not: "Unable to confirm any deaths" or similar wording (as in an official statement) does NOT amount to a report of zero, and will NOT lead to an entry of "0" in the minimum column."

Using multiple sources that all just give the Iraqi line on civilian casualities doesn't prove what they want it to. It just makes this a joke.
posted by smackfu at 8:03 PM on March 18, 2003


Well, let's see...Saddam already has a nasty habit of killing civilians. So you can count on the pre-war civilian death toll being MUCH higher than the post-war numbers.
posted by republican at 8:08 PM on March 18, 2003


"Unable to confirm any deaths" is not the same as no deaths?

Man, talk about looking for the worst case scenario. Seems to me that "Unable to confirm any deaths" should be treated as "No deaths" - unless you're looking to bump up the numbers.

[sarcasm]

Not that there's anything WRONG with inflating a body count. No, sir. Why, the US did it in Viet Nam so the media would have good news to report every night. Nice to see the tradition continues.

[/sarcasm]

JB
posted by JB71 at 8:16 PM on March 18, 2003


Well, let's see...Saddam already has a nasty habit of killing civilians.

This is true. I'll make a suggestion that they add those to the casualties since, you know, America placed him in power...
posted by iamck at 8:19 PM on March 18, 2003


You should also suggest that they add the Iraqi torture count and Iraqi rape count.
posted by republican at 8:26 PM on March 18, 2003


Okay - if we placed Saddam in power - we'll take him OUT of power. Surely nobody could object to that.

Or should we just leave him in place, as a cautionary tale? Don't fuck with the US, or we'll sneakily install a megalomanical dictator in your country, who will gleefully kill off a million or so of the people he trusts least?

Nah - sometimes, you've just got to shoot your own dog. Time to put Saddam down, I think.

JB
posted by JB71 at 8:32 PM on March 18, 2003


Republican - pre-war numbers being higher than post-war numbers? Either you're very poor at maths, or you're relying on some magical revitalization of dead people once Saddam is dust. Either way, I get the impression you don't want to see ANY kind of civillian casualties count during the war - given that the site makes it clear this is a count during the war. I think this is a noble project, although I would like to see the minimum number more honestly reflect US estimations of deaths rather than just being equal to the maximum.
posted by Jimbob at 8:32 PM on March 18, 2003


I'll make a suggestion that they add those to the casualties since, you know, America placed him in power...

...and don't forget, its all about the oil! Let's see how many simple minded cliches we can include.
posted by Dennis Murphy at 8:35 PM on March 18, 2003


As someone who supports this war but hopes intensely that it will be carried out as cleanly as humanly possible, I think this is a very valuable project. However, the fact that reports of no civilian casualties are ignored will certainly bias the count, which is dissapointing since the site seems to make extensive efforts to otherwise provide accurate information.
posted by Wingy at 8:38 PM on March 18, 2003


Wingy - they're not ignoring reports of "No civilian casualties"- they're ignoring reports that are phrased "No confirmed civilian casualties" - in other words, where the media outlet suggests civilians may have been killed but no reporter visited the site to confirm it - I think it's a subtle but important difference (although I don't know how you ever would prove that zero civilians were killed in an attack on a distant target, just as you might expect Iraqi estimates to be exaggerated).

We'll see how it works once the "minimum" starts differing from the "maximum", I think.
posted by Jimbob at 8:55 PM on March 18, 2003


oops.. upon a closer read, reports of no civilian casualties will count, just ambiguous official language like "no confirmed deaths" won't count. The problem here remains that the site itself clearly is dedicated to certain political beliefs (of the anti-war variety), and that it is likely to influence which reports are considered to have language that accurately reflects a body count and which do not. Overall though, it still seems like a worthwhile site that will provide generally accurate information.

On preview: Yeah, Jimbob is right.
posted by Wingy at 8:57 PM on March 18, 2003


if you think the Iraqi government is gonna inflate the numbers, do you trust the US government not to undercut them?
posted by mcsweetie at 9:05 PM on March 18, 2003


No I don't, mcsweetie, for either one, which is why it's such a hard statistic to report accurately. Iraq is likely, of course, to inflate numbers to gain sympathy. Allied forces are likely to undercut them, if only because they will be claiming to hit "millitary targets" - therefore no civillians (ignoring any civillians who may be present anyway, or that the Iraqi regime may have even placed there as human shields).

In the absence of GPS tracking devices attached to every civillian in the region, or reporters who want to be present in the areas where the bombs are dropping, I think a minimum/maximum index like this is as honest as it's likely to get.
posted by Jimbob at 9:12 PM on March 18, 2003


Min- 14
Max- 14

I wonder if this counter will soon separate the minimum and maximum numbers.

While with good intentions, hopefully this site won't merely report Iraqi government reports.

I'll make a suggestion that they add those to the casualties since, you know, America placed him in power...

Cite please?

I'd say that Saddam's rise to power was due to the death of the former President (although the idea that Saddam had him killed has been raised), but I'd say the US didn't kill Bakr. When did they play their cards to put Saddam in power? 1963? (when the Baathists failed and Saddam was put in jail), 1968?, 1979?

I'd admit that deals with Saddam in the 80s were not that wise in retrospect. Although, I'd have to see some backup on the 'US put him in power' claim.
posted by RobbieFal at 9:18 PM on March 18, 2003


i wonder if they're going to include victime of american 'friendly fire'? that'll bump up the totals
posted by quarsan at 11:19 PM on March 18, 2003


[S]ometimes, you've just got to shoot your own dog.

Well put, JB71. Very well put.

I still cry at the end of Old Yeller...
posted by Guy Smiley at 12:15 AM on March 19, 2003


As someone who supports this war but hopes intensely that it will be carried out as cleanly as humanly possible, I think

Trollfilter -- too late. Please try to connect what you are saying. You are aware that war is about, like, disembowlment and missing limbs and stuff, yeah? Bodies buried in the trenches when the tractors come over? 100K dead on the road to Basra?

Vis the site -- I was prepared to loathe it from the FPP alone, however their methodology seems sound enough:

The project relies on the professional rigour of the approved reporting agencies. It is assumed that any agency that has attained a respected international status operates its own rigorous checks before publishing items (including, where possible, eye-witness and confidential sources).

I mean, if you can't collect the data yourself, go with respected secondaries, right?
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:23 AM on March 19, 2003


Considering the front page of that site has a photoshopped picture of a B2 dropping its bombs (that's a lot more than 16 bombs) I wonder what else they'll doctor up?
posted by bondcliff at 6:21 AM on March 19, 2003


anyone else get the feeling that the iraqbodycount.net people care far more about attacking bush et al than doing anything that might actually improve anyones life? That domain name. What the hell? That “We don’t do body counts” thing at the top of the page. I'll bet they hope those numbers go sky high. So a few Iraqis die. As long as they get the "message" out, whatever that may be, that'll just go to show....
posted by shoos at 6:23 AM on March 19, 2003


I wonder what else they'll doctor up?

I think you're on to something. first of all, check out the text on the buttons...do you think letters just normally have a white glow behind them like that? well if you do then you probably think Saddam was responsbile for 9/11! this site is such a crock!

whoa, I just noticed something else. how did they make all the guys look so small? hmmm, if they have no qualms about lying to american people by using photoshop to make our leaders appear small, I wonder what else they'll shrink?
posted by mcsweetie at 6:58 AM on March 19, 2003


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