Intermediate Form

Placing the Blame

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The Iraq Body Count project purports to measure "civilian deaths in Iraq resulting directly from military actions by the USA and its allies". I think there is a place for reputable organizations that try to track civilian casualties caused by both sides. Alas, the Iraq Body Count project's political bias renders it useless as a source of reliable numbers.

Take the latest report, with incident code j029. The IBC reports that 40 deaths occurs in Kirkuk, and cites as sources (without links, despite the easy availability of their source material on the web) the BBC and Human Rights Watch. Through a little bit of searching, I was able to find the Human Rights Watch article on Kirkuk.


Since April 10, at least 40 civilians have been killed in the city. Many of them appear to have died as a result of clashes between armed civilians and Ba'ath Party officials. According to forensic records, at least two died from close range single gunshot wounds to the head, and a third, whose hands were bound, bore lesions on the neck consistent with hanging.

That's right. The 40 deaths that IBC reports as "resulting directly from military actions by the USA" were instead caused by Ba'ath party members, loyal to Saddam's regime. IBC's decision to place at the feet of the US blame for deaths clearly caused by the Iraqi regime is both dishonest and unfair.

It's time, I think, for a Saddam Body Count project, in which we can total the number of deaths attributed to Saddam between the end of the civil war following the gulf war and the liberation of Iraq. I expect this number to grow large as new evidence is revealed. It'll be interesting to compare the thousand or so civilian casualties (all regrettable, I'll grant) that resulted from US action to the far larger numbers of people killed by the regime.

- Tom | permalink | changelog | Last updated: 2003-04-17 10:27

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