In response to Jeffreys comments re Iraq Body Count Methodology. Jeffrey has heard people tell him that Iraq Body Counts methodology is flawed because it counts "ANYONE who dies as a civilian casualty". I have read Iraq Body Counts methodology thoroughly both in the past and again today in writing this post. I find Iraq Body Counts methodology to be sound.
Iraq Body Count does not count "ANYONE who dies as a civilian casualty" Iraq Body Count bases its figures on almost the only available source material it has; Media Reports.
Far from counting "ANYONE who dies as a civilian casualty", Iraq Body Count follows strict research procedures in compiling casualty figures from media reports.
In order for a death to be counted, Iraq Body Count specifies in its methodology that it requires;
that two independent agencies publish a report before we are willing to add it to the count.
Iraq body count states this more then once;
Our methodology requires that specific deaths attributed to US-led military actions are carried in at least two reports from our approved sources. This includes deaths resulting from the destruction of water treatment plants or any other lethal effects on the civilian population
Iraq Body Count states clearly that it counts only casualties that are consequences of current military action in Iraq;
...we record all civilians deaths attributed to our military intervention in Iraq.
The above FAQ does not apply to sanctions; although we are opposed to them, our study deals with the consequences of our current military actions in Iraq. It has also been newly revised due to our growing awareness that we were too narrowly-focused on bombs and other conventional weapons, neglecting the deadly effects of disrupted food, water, electricity and medical supplies.
The site states that;
Casualty figures are derived from a comprehensive survey of online media reports and eyewitness accounts. Where these sources report differing figures, the range (a minimum and a maximum) are given. All results are independently reviewed and error-checked by at least two members of the Iraq Body Count project team in addition to the original compiler before publication.
Clearly, Iraq Body Count counts only casualties that are the result of military action, and even these it compiles conservatively providing both a maximum and minimum estimate. Iraq Body Count bases its figures on accounts from media reports, not, as Jeffrey seems to be implying, by trawling the obituaries column of Iraqi Newspapers indiscriminately counting every single death it finds. In fact, not one of Iraq Body Counts sources is an Iraqi publication.
As it is clear that Iraq Body Count data is sourced from media reports, it would be logical to conclude that there are casualties which do not make their way into a newspaper column or online publication. Believe it or not Jeffrey, the casualties Iraq Body Count is recording are likely to be only the more spectacular casualties, the ones that make readable news headlines. Mundane deaths, I'm afraid Jeffrey, are probably not going to be that hot for press.
This only serves to affirm that Iraq Body Count does NOT count "ANYONE who dies as a civilian casualty". In fact Iraq Body Count is quite possibly also NOT counting some legitimate war casualties, simply because some legitimate war casualties are going to occur when there is no journalist around to record them, or may be reported in a publication which does not meet Iraq Body Counts specifications to be countable.
Iraq Body Count states that;
For a source to be considered acceptable to this project it must comply with the following standards: (1) site updated at least daily; (2) all stories separately archived on the site, with a unique url (see Note 1 below); (3) source widely cited or referenced by other sources; (4) English Language site; (5) fully public (preferably free) web-access.
Iraq body Count lists its sources. Furthermore, the Iraq Body Count project includes a secure archive of all original sources;
Although it is expected that the majority of sources will remain accessible on the web site from which they were drawn, the project will create a secure archive of all original sources (in both electronic and paper form). Where judged appropriate by the project team, this data may be released to bona-fide enquirers, for verification purposes.
Iraq Body Count follows conservative research procedures in collecting data from its sources;
As a further conservative measure, when the wording used in both reports refers to "people" instead of civilians, we will include the total figure as a maximum but enter "0" into the minimum column unless details are present clearly identifying some or all of the dead as civilian - in this case the number of identifiable civilians will be entered into the minimum column instead of "0". The word "family" will be interpreted in this context as meaning 3 civilians. [Average Iraqi non-extended family size: 6. -CIA Factbook 2002.]
Iraq body count notes that;
The project relies on the professional rigour of the approved reporting agencies.
Iraq Body Count acknowledges the interest that many parties have in manipulating casualty figures for political ends;
We acknowledge that many parties to this conflict will have an interest in manipulating casualty figures for political ends. There is no such thing (and will probably never be such a thing) as an "wholly accurate" figure, which could accepted as historical truth by all parties. This is why we will always publish a minimum and a maximum for each reported incident. Some sources may wish to over-report casualties. Others may wish to under-report them. Our methodology is not biased towards "propaganda" from any particular protagonist in the conflict. We will faithfully reflect the full range of reported deaths in our sources. These sources, which are predominantly Western (including long established press agencies such as Reuters and Associated Press) are unlikely to suppress conservative estimates which can act as a corrective to inflated claims.
The Iraq Body Count team are well aware of the restrictions an independent project collecting casualty data from outside of Iraq faces, and acknowledges that many projects are needed to evaluate the full human cost of war;
Many projects are needed to evaluate the full human cost of this war. We value them all, but this one is ours. We need to ensure that our study is focused and that its intent, scope and limits are widely and clearly understood. We will certainly build up and maintain our set of links to projects doing related work so that viewers of this site can be pointed to related activity.
Unfortunately, few projects in actuality exist. Iraq Body count is one of those few. Collecting data from hospitals in Iraq would be an obviously valuable source of information, but unfortunately Iraqi Health Ministry officials ordered a halt to a count of civilian casualties from the war and told workers not to release figures already compiled. So you see, we are left with just a few projects run largely by dedicated volunteers, such as the Iraq Body Count team and Raed. Which is admittedly insufficient in terms of the value of existing alongside other projects. Thank goodness at least these few projects have had the tenacity to continue faithfully recording the little that they can.
It is in this context that Iraq Body Count heads their site with the words of General Tommy Franks, of US Central Command; "We don't do body counts".
Iraq Body Counts Rationale clearly sums up the projects aims; to compile a record of civilian casualties caused by war and make accessible, in an index, data from reports which would otherwise be lost; "scattered in different news sources and spread over time";
This project aims to record single-mindedly and on a virtually real-time basis one key and immutable index of the fruits of war: the death toll of innocents. The full extent of this has often gone unnoticed until long after a war has ended, if at all. One reason is that reports of incidents where civilians have been killed are scattered in different news sources and spread over time: one or two killed here, a few dozen there, with only major incidents (such as the attack on the Al-Amariyah bomb shelter where hundreds of women, children and elderly were incinerated alive) being guaranteed headline coverage. But the smaller numbers quickly add up: and however many civilians are killed in the onslaught on Iraq, their death toll should not go unnoticed by those who are paying â€” in taxes â€” for their slaughter. It is to these all too easily disregarded victims of violence that Iraq Body Count is dedicated, and we are resolute that they, too, shall have their memorials.
I find the Iraq Body Count project to be of the highest integrity, and challenge Jeffrey to read Iraq Body Counts overview, rationale and methodology in full for himself.
As I replied to Jeffrey previously; nobody has succeeded in debunking Iraq Body Count. Some have tried but not succeeded, primarily because those who have tried to debunk Iraq Body Count are motivated by their own extreme bias and are fueled by their own campaigns and misinformation.