Look closer. Think harder. Choose the sound argument over the clever one.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


IraqBodyCount.net is back in the news, estimating 25,000 civilian casualties.

In their Press Release, they say "30% of civilian deaths occurred during the invasion phase before 1 May 2003." Further, "US-led forces killed 37% of civilian victims." and "Over half (53%) of all civilian deaths involved explosive devices."

Let's do some math: 30% of 37% of 24865 civilians killed, or 2760, were killed by US-led forces during the invasion phase. Civilian deaths not involving explosives devices (100% - 53% = 47%): nearly 1300. Most of these deaths should be able to be corroborated by the hundreds of embedded reporters traveling with the military at that time. Where are they? These reporters should have witnessed many of these killings, or at least have seen the victims' bodies soon after their deaths.

Further, I reviewed this project on 9/8/2004 (before this blog existed). Here are my notes:

Listening to NPR, they did an interview of the web-site iraqbodycount.net. They claim between 11,800 and 13,800 civilian deaths to date, since the start of the conflict. However, scrutinizing their methods, here’s what I find:

My conclusion: anti-American propaganda.

HT: NRO's Media Blog: first, second, third, fourth.

Update: Edited a bit for wordiness.

Welcome, NRO Media Blog readers!

One more belated thought (12/30/2005): The web-site's background graphic (bombs falling endlessly from a distinctively American bomber) is part of the propaganda, suggesting that the majority of deaths were from American bombing. Misleading.

Update, 12/30/2005: GatewayPundit's analysis shows progress in Iraq.


(Please keep in mind that each commenter's opinions are only his/her own.)

So you can say Al-Jazeera is anti-American. Okay, perhaps so. (Was that a good reason to blatt their Kabul bureau?)

As presented on CNN, the war in the Gulf was a clean, anti-septic, high-precision, high-tech video game. Al-Jazeera gives us the carnage (collateral damage) that Western networks are squemish of showing. Is this what automatically makes it nothing more than an anti-American propaganda outlet?

Let's have some evidence... what makes Al-J any less (or any more?) of an "objective" news source than, let's say, CNN??

You must be aware of British medical journal The Lancet's estimate of as many as 100,000 Iraqi civilians dead?

I have no position on this myself... How could I know??? But the BMA's journal is a source I wouldn't shrug off lightly...

I'm as aware of the Lancet's estimates as I am those debunking them. Even IraqBodyCount.net debunks it:

"The Lancet study's headline figure of "100,000" excess deaths is a probabilistic projection from a small number of reported deaths ... in a sample of 988 households to the entire Iraqi population. ... the authors clearly state that "many" of the dead in their sample may have been combatants."

Re: Al-Jazeera...

NRO: Jihad TV.

Weekly Std: Uday's Oil-for-News Program.

If you look at their "dossier of civilian casualities" on their home page, you will find some interesting problems with their demographics.

If these deaths were truly accidental civilian casualities -- bombs hitting the wrong buildings, bullets flying through windows, passers-by being killed by car bombs -- then one would expect to see approximate equal numbers of men and women killed. One would also expect to see approximately equal numbers of adults and children killed, as children comprise ~50% of the population.

Instead, we are informed that 82% of the casualties were adult males, 9% were adult women, and 10% were children.

I strongly suspect that what is going on here is that large numbers of combantant casualties -- insurgents and foreign fighters -- are being deliberately counted as "civilian" casualties.

Let us assume for the moment that, aside from a very small handful of female suicide bombers reported in the news, there are no female combantants in Iraq. (I have never heard news reports of Coalition soldiers fighting armed Iraqi women.) IBC claims a death count of about 30,000. If 9% of the total are adult women (50% of the population), and 10% of the total are children (~50% of the population), then it stands to reason that most likely another 9-10% of their total are non-combantant adult males.

In other words, instead of 30,000 civilian casualties, the real figure is more likely in the neighborhood of 9,000 civilian casualties, with another 21,000 combantant casualties mixed in and passed off as civilian casualties. And that's using IBC's numbers.

I'm going to go ahead and call IBC enemy propaganda.

Anonymous: thanks for the added analysis, and for looking closer and thinking harder (my tagline). Do you blog?

By the way, I don't doubt that IBC earnestly and honestly conducts their research according to their stated methods, or that some of their numbers, when filtered correctly, could have some basis in reality (e.g., see the anonymous commenter two above).

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