Thursday, September 05, 2013

Syrian site-setting in the Senate

Just what -- or who -- are the likely targets of a strike in Syria? This exchange in the Senate Foreign Services Committee hearing transcript made me pick my head up:
SEN. DURBIN: General Dempsey, we saw these photographs earlier -- these heartbreaking photographs. Page three of The Washington Post this morning, an ad by a group supporting the president's effort has a photograph that's riveted in my mind, as a father and grandfather, of the children on the floor in shrouds, victims of this chemical agent gas attack.

What the administration is asking us for is military authority to launch additional attacks. What have you been charged with in terms of the issue of collateral damage from those attacks as it would affect innocent people and civilians in the nation of Syria?

GEN. DEMPSEY: Senator, the guidance that we've received on targeting is to maintain a collateral damage estimate of low. And I just -- briefly on how we come up with our assessments of collateral damage, it's based on how much we know about a target through intelligence, its proximity to civilian structures and weapons effects as we decide what weapon to weaponeer against it.

And a -- and a collateral damage estimate of low means just that, that we will keep collateral damage lower than a certain number, which I would rather share with you in a classified setting. That doesn't mean, by the way, that we would have the same constraint, if you will, in what damage could be done to regime personnel.

So that's a separate issue, although even in that case I could probably tell you some more things in the classified setting.

SEN. DURBIN: I look forward to that.  (my italics.)

That's a pretty swift ride from the sentimental to the military-clinical-euphemistic to the cold-blooded.  Just what "regime personnel" do they have in mind?

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