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Ari & I: November 20, 2001

Russell Mokhiber questions White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

Russell Mokhiber questions White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer gestures as he speaks to reporters at the White House briefing room April 2, 2003 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Russell Mokhiber: Ari, yesterday, there were reports in the British press that a catastrophic error by U.S. Air Force bombers killed 150 Afghan civilians.

Does the administration have any numbers on how many civilians have been killed by U.S. bombs since the bombing started?

Ari Fleischer: Let me make two points on that.

One is that I don't think you will ever witness a nation that has worked so hard to avoid civilian casualties as the United States has.

It's part of the training, part of the mission, part of the professionalism of the men and women who serve in the armed forces, who work so hard to conduct a war, and who work so hard to protect innocent lives on the ground.

If you are asking for more specific operational questions, including numbers, you would have to talk to DOD.

Mokhiber: In his book Veil, Bob Woodward reported a couple of years ago that a CIA sponsored car-bomb killed 80 innocent civilians in Beirut.

You talk about terror and the war on evil. Does the war on terror and evil include U.S. sponsored terror and U.S. sponsored deaths -- civilian deaths?

Fleischer: I am not going to accept the premise of that question, we are talking about the United States acting in self-defense. And I'm not referring to the question of anything that was written in Mr. Woodward's book.

If you are suggesting an equivalence in the United States protecting itself in the war in Afghanistan and the terrorism practiced against the United States, I don't accept the premise of that question, the moral equivalence that you are suggesting.

Mokhiber: I'm talking about the car bomb --

(Ari moves on.)

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