"We don't do body counts," an American general notoriously said not long after the US-led invasion of Iraq. Five years later, there is no credible count of civilian deaths in the Iraq war, the Guardian reports in a look at the wildly different estimates that have been promoted—ranging from under 100,000 to well over a million—and how they're put together.
Some counts have used morgue and hospital records; four household surveys have been done, collecting names of the dead and extrapolating to the population as a whole. Counters have been quick to attack each other's methodology, and politicians to seize the figure that suits their purposes. The Guardian calls it "the worst humanitarian catastrophe in today's world," but still a mystery as to its real scope.