Megan Carpentier notices that reports on U.S. and NATO air strikes in Afghanistan consistently claim the strikes kill exactly 30 people every time!
Well, why? Because 30 is “the magic number.” From a July L.A. Times article:
In a grisly calculus known as the “collateral damage estimate,” U.S. military commanders and lawyers often work together in advance of a military strike, using very specific, Pentagon-imposed protocols to determine whether the good that will come of it outweighs the cost.
We don’t know much about how it works, but in 2007, Marc Garlasco, the Pentagon’s former chief of high-value targeting, offered a glimpse when he told Salon magazine that in 2003, “the magic number was 30.” That meant that if an attack was anticipated to kill more than 30 civilians, it needed the explicit approval of then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld or President George W. Bush. If the expected civilian death toll was less than 30, the strike could be OKd by the legal and military commanders on the ground.
And pause for a minute to let that soak in. LEGAL commanders on the ground. Whose job involves calibrating the number of innocent lives that can be snuffed out without raising any eyebrows back home….. And pause for another minute to realize we can no longer pin this on Rumsfeld and Bush.