A new website keeping a running tally of civilian deaths in the US war against Iraq is attracting a lot of traffic and attention, and, in the process, is emerging as an authoritative source of information beyond the spin of either the Bush Administration or Saddam Hussein’s propaganda ministers.

The Iraq Body Count site is attracting 100,000 visitors a day, many of them journalists, who are increasingly citing the site’s reporting in their own accounts. The material is critical given that no goverment, NGO or other organization is currently chronicling this information. As US General Tommy Franks has said: “We don’t do body counts.”

Launched this past January, IBC is run by 16 researchers, based in the United States and the United Kingdom, who closely analyze reports from a range of both corporate and independent media, including, among many others, the New York Times, Fox News, the BBC, Middle East Online and the Jordan Times.

If a death is cross-referenced in two different sources, independent of each other, they count it. And because of the inevitable discrepancies, they always calculate both minimum and maximum estimated tallies. All results are also independently reviewed and fact-checked by at least two members of the Iraq Body Count project team before publication.Click here for a thorough explanation of IBC’s methodology .

The project was founded on the example of Marc Herold, a professor at the University of New Hampshire, who devised the counting methodology in October 2001, in order to monitor civilian deaths resulting from the US invasion of Afghanistan. Herold is serving as a consultant to the Iraq Body Count project.

The site’s producers have also developed a JavaScript web counter that can be added to any site to show the latest fatality estimates [See an example at left]. The counter, available in varied sizes, has been adopted by about 200 other websites to date. It provides an invaluable, if grim, way to keep mindful of the human consequences of our government’s war. So if you’re involved in a site or have one of your own, consider adding this tool. And don’t hesitate to make a donation to this non-profit effort.