Watchdog Blog

Saul Friedman: The Unasked Questions

Posted at 11:18 am, May 15th, 2007
Saul Friedman Mug

Ten more young Americans died in Iraq on Mother’s Day weekend (not counting the three who were captured by insurgents), bringing the total dead so far to a new mark, 3,400. It was grim grim news for moms, and dads and the dozens of folks who were touched by these lives and their deaths. The news was known by reporters well before Tony Snow’s daily White House briefing Monday, so there was no excuse for their silence.

Yet, aside from a passing question about the three who were captured, which Snow refused to discuss, there was not a single question aboout the weekend death toll. Indeed it was the second grim weekend in May, for ten other American soldiers were killed earlier in the month on what was then the grimmest one-day toll in days. With 52 deaths in two weeks, May is ahead of the pace for April’s cruel total (104). Yet once again (I’ve been keeping track), no one asks at the White House about or even mentions the incessant, drip, drip death toll. I wonder if Snow (or the President) even knows or keep track of the total; it would be a sign that they cared.

There were no questions about the first May weekend’s death toll, for on that previous Monday, the news of the day that had the press all atwitter was the visit of Queen Elizabeth, whose grandson is on his way to see duty in Iraq. That could have been an occasion to bring up Iraq. But no one mentioned that either.

On the Monday after Mother’s Day, the press had other things on its mindlessness, like energy conservation and the high cost of fuel. War was a second tier story. Maybe the press is tired of asking and getting nowhere. Maybe it doesn’t do any good, but the question should be asked every day: Tony, how many more? We’re at 3.400 and counting, how high will it go? Any commander has an idea of the costs of battle to his unit when he undertakes a mission. Can you give us an estimate on the casualties the president is willing to bear? The mothers would like to know. A note: Before Snow’s briefing was over, five more Americans were reported killed.

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