Well, it looks like we've got our answer. The White House didn't bother to even come up with a casualty estimate for their new escalation plan in Iraq. So much for "supporting the troops." At least if Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice is to be believed.
We've been asking since last Sunday --- and then again just after Bush's Wednesday night speech when he said, "We must expect more Iraqi and American casualties" --- what the White House's estimates are for the increased (or decreased) body count that we can expect vis-a-vis his new plan for a troop "augmentation" (nee "surge") in Iraq.
Surely due diligence when creating such a plan requires such estimates be made by the military for the cost expected in blood for our U.S. troops before such a plan is actually implemented.
Well, finally, the question has been asked of the White House, or at least of Rice, during yesterday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the planned escalation.
If Rice is to be believed, the White House has made no such estimate.
When asked directly by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), "Do you have an estimate of the number of casualties we expect from this surge?", Rice's answer came back as: "No, uh, Senator...I don't think there's any way to give you such an estimate."
Boxer's question came after a morning of tough questions and statements for Rice --- from both Republicans and Democrats --- and after the Senator's own statement in which she discussed the fact that "we are alone in this escalation of troops." She was referring to the point that no other countries among our allies in Iraq would be increasing their own troop strength. In fact, the British have announced they will be decreasing troops in the region over the next few months.
(The entire hearing can be seen via Real Video from C-SPAN here. Boxer's questioning of Rice comes at appx. the 1:47:00 mark.)
And while one would think the admission that the White House has announced a plan to send more than 20,000 U.S. troops into harm's way without first measuring the cost in blood expected by such an increase to be rather newsworthy, rightwing pundits from outlets such as Fox "News" and the New York Post have taken the opportunity to criticize Boxer for the way in which she framed the question instead. In the bargain, they've virtually ignored both the question itself, Rice's answer, and the apparent stunning delinquency of the White House if Rice is to be believed.
"The Pentagon knows how many casualties they estimate for any of the actions the additional troops will be taking part of. It’s basic war planning," Solz told us this morning. "Depending on what happens, that number could go up or go down, but they know what they expect."
Soltz joins our call for the public release of such an estimate from the Pentagon or White House --- if it in fact exists --- given the new policy comes in the wake of previous policy errors and underestimates.
"Normally, the military shouldn’t have to release those estimates, but given that the administration is asking more troops to pay for its mistakes, they should be up front about how many they believe are going to make the ultimate sacrifice," he explained.
Solz has been critical of Bush's planned escalation, and was the only Iraq War veteran invited to speak at a recent Senate Leadership press conference in response to the new plan.
...ATTACKING THE MESSENGER...
As reported by RAW STORY this morning --- the New York Post, while ignoring Rice's news and choosing instead to focus on Boxer having pointed out that neither she nor Rice had children who would directly pay the price for the planned increase in troops sent to Iraq, characterized the question as a "slur" to Rice.
"IT'S WAR: Dem Childless Condi Slur," screamed their front page this morning. Their friends and corporate partners over at Fox "News" were all too happy to pick up that ball and run with it as usual. Their front page screamer: "Boxer's Sucker Punch: Calif. senator lashes out at Rice's personal life."
Over at Fox "News" however, not only did their website manage to avoid discussion of Rice's stunning admission, their FOX & Friends morning crew spent much of the day not just attacking Boxer for the way she framed the question, but they unquestioningly parroted Rice's answer --- "I don't think that any of us, uh, have a number. That, of expected casualties." --- to the Senator...