Tuesday, December 13, 2005
All that said, you know if Bush is saying it's 30,000, it wouldn't surprise me if they gave this seemingly high number to deflect away from a true, higher number. I'd add an additional 15-25 thousand on to that number, just on general principles of paranoia - I just can't expect the truth from these people.
By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer
Mon Dec 12,10:57 PM ET
In a rare, unscripted moment, President Bush on Monday estimated 30,000 Iraqis have died in the war, the first time he has publicly acknowledged the high price Iraqis have paid in the push for democracy.
In the midst of a campaign to win support for the unpopular war, Bush unexpectedly invited questions from the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia after a speech asserting that Iraq was making progress despite violence, flawed elections and other setbacks.
He immediately was challenged about the number of Iraqis who have lost their lives since the beginning of the war.
"I would say 30,000, more or less, have died as a result of the initial incursion and the ongoing violence against Iraqis," Bush said. "We've lost about 2,140 of our own troops in Iraq."
The U.S. military does not release its tally of Iraqi dead, but there is some consensus from outside experts that roughly 30,000 is a credible number. White House counselor Dan Bartlett said Bush was not giving an official figure but simply repeating public estimates.
Another questioner challenged the administration's linkage of the Iraq war to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Bush said Saddam Hussein was a threat and was widely believed to have weapons of mass destruction — a belief that later proved false.
"I made a tough decision. And knowing what I know today, I'd make the decision again," Bush said. "Removing Saddam Hussein makes this world a better place and America a safer country."