Strange things happen when a country kills people but refuses to give even a rough estimate of how many. Have American drone strikes killed 2,000 humans? 3,000 humans? 4,000 humans? 5,000 humans? 6,000 humans? No one knows for sure. President Obama avers that citizens are right to debate the killings. But he won't reveal how many men, women, and children are killed. In response, several nonprofits have endeavored to parse media reports from Pakistan and beyond. They're our best sources until the truth outs, as it eventually tends to do.
Enter Senator Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Earlier this week, he spoke to the Rotary Club in the small town of Easley, South Carolina. "We've killed 4,700," he told them. "Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we're at war, and we've taken out some very senior members of al-Qaida." Is that really how many we've killed?
Are we expected to believe that 4,700 people posed an imminent threat to American security?
The estimate quickly spread through the media. Did Senator Graham reveal classified information? Is his figure the best estimate Americans have of how many people are being killed in our names?