|The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 7, 2004
Press Gaggle with Scott McClellan
Boone County Fairgrounds
4:10 P.M. CDT
Q Senator Kerry is calling it a tragic milestone, reaching 1,000 deaths in Iraq.
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, we remember, honor and mourn the loss of all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice defending freedom. And we also remember those who lost their lives on September 11th. The best way to honor all those who have lost their life in the war on terrorism is to continue to wage a broad war and spread freedom throughout a dangerous part of the world so that we can transform that region of the world and make the world a safer place, and make America more secure.
Q And you're convinced each one of those lives is worth it, Scott?
MR. McCLELLAN: Each one -- well, let me say, when I say we remember, honor, mourn the loss of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, we do so for those in Iraq and Afghanistan. We also remember those who lost their lives on September 11th, nearly three years ago today. And that's why I said it's important that we continue to wage a broad war on terrorism and that we work to spread freedom throughout the Middle East and transform that region so that we defeat the ideologies of hatred and tyranny.
Q But the question is, for -- each of those families lost someone, a loved one, and each one of those is worth it -- that's the question.
MR. McCLELLAN: Mark, I think -- I think of the cost we paid on September 11th, and September 11th changed the equation, as you've heard the President say. The President has met with hundreds of families of the fallen from Iraq and Afghanistan, and their strength and courage is an inspiration to all of us. And we will continue to honor them by completing the important mission at hand. And that mission is to defeat the ideologies of hatred and to spread freedom. And that's how we will prevail in this war on terrorism.
Q -- is it necessary?
MR. McCLELLAN: Yes. Yes.
Q How will the President acknowledge the milestone of 1,000 deaths.?
MR. McCLELLAN: My understanding is that -- I think it's over 1,200 when you take in Iraq and Afghanistan -- 997 uniformed men and women in Iraq, and then I think there are three civilian contractors, as well. So -- but obviously, you hear the President talk about the importance of what we're working to accomplish in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and he will continue to do that.
Q What's the bottom line? Is it 1,000, or not?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, my understanding is that there are 997 uniformed in Iraq, men and women in Iraq. And then I think you have three civilian contractors. That's my understanding. I'm trying to get the latest update, too, but that's the latest update I had.
Q So the Pentagon does not count this as 1,000 --
MR. McCLELLAN: I'm trying to get the latest update, but I know that you all wanted some comments, so that's why I came over here now, to give you a comment. But that's the latest information I had.
Q So 997 uniformed, 3 civilian contractors?
MR. McCLELLAN: The latest information I had, yes.
Q Do you think that it's not a significant threshold, it's not a significant landmark --
MR. McCLELLAN: No, whether it's one, two, three, or 1,000, or 1,200 when you take in Iraq and Afghanistan, we mourn the loss of every one of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. They have made the ultimate sacrifice defending freedom and working to spread democracy in a volatile region of the world. And transforming the Middle East will make the world a better place and make America more secure. And so we honor all of the fallen.
END 4:14 P.M. CDT