Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Under-reporting civilian casualties in Iraq

The New York Times reports over 3,400 violent deaths for Iraqi civilians in July, using Iraqi government data. The site I've been using for monthly updates gave an estimate of 1060, based on news media reports. That's a huge difference, and it looks like the larger number is more accurate.

The news media approach to casualty counting was widely criticized by conservatives early on during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Then President Bush used their figures when throwing out a guesstimate of civilian casualties several months ago. Now it looks like a significant undercount.

At least there's some corroboration in trends. The Times says July was 9% worse than June and twice as bad as January. My source says July was almost 50% worse than June and almost twice as bad as January.

Lacking a better standard source for information, I'll stick with what I've got in future updates, but it will likely be even more of an undercount if things continue to deteriorate.

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