So what is the group IraqBodyCount? What exactly does it do and what is its database on civilian casualties in Iraq?
Reinsford: IBC is an Internet group that counts civilian casualties in Iraq based on reliable news reports. It maintains a public database of incidents in which civilians were reported killed. It makes no discernment between those who were killed intentionally in terror attacks, or those killed collaterally by security forces trying to stop the terrorists. It openly lays the blame for each death on the U.S. and the 2003 decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
The group's numbers are far more reliable than some of the wilder estimates out there, such as the ridiculous surveys published in The Lancet.
FP: How much interest did the IBC devote to the Iraqi civilians that were killed by Saddam?
Reinsfold: Absolutely none.
The only dead Iraqis that interest IBC are those whose demise can be blamed on the Americans -- however tenuously, that is.
Not only are terrorists the ones killing Iraqis these days, but ultimately it was Saddam's choice to go to war by refusing to comply with international law and the terms of the cease-fire that he agreed to in 1991. This point seems to be lost on IBC.
FP: What is flawed about the IBC’s data?
Reinsford: There is an obvious tension between the anti-American agenda and objective reporting. This affects the methodology of compiling data as well as the presentation of it.
Originally the group hoped that its numbers would reflect civilians killed in combat. This would support the political statement that they wished to make about the ethics of war. Unfortunately for them the real war ended quickly and the vast majority of civilians who have been killed since have died unnecessarily at the hands of terrorists. The group plays games to hide this fact from the casual visitor to their site.
Part of this includes artificially inflating the incidents and casualties in which Americans actually are involved (such as firefights and air strikes) by applying lower journalistic standards to the reporting of these events. Examples include an over-reliance on single, local sources that are not confirmed by more reliable news organizations.
In order to further exaggerate US-related incidents, IBC usually personalizes both the victims and the so-called aggressor in its description, using terms like "children" and "US troops." However it actively depersonalizes incidents not involving the Americans. In my analysis of the first six months of 2007, I could not find a single case in which IBC used the words "al-Qaeda" or "terrorist." And only once did it describe the attacker as Shia or Sunni.
FP: The bottom line is that if Islamic terrorists stopped waging terror and if Shiites and Sunnis stopped killing each other, then there wouldn’t be any civilian casualties at all and no war period. How much of its energy and reporting does the IBC devote to this fact?
Reinsfold: If not for Islamic terror, the rest of Iraq would be as free, safe and successful as the northern Kurdistan region. The only American troops there would probably be embassy guards.
So far, the Americans have literally been spilling their own blood to provide this sort of future for Iraqis, while the "Holy Warriors" of Islam have been doing everything in their power to prevent it from happening.
IraqBodyCount does not appear to have any interest in making this truth known. In fact, they are actively distorting it.
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