WASHINGTON – Though the Pentagon has been loathe to talk about numbers of enemy killed -- President Bush on Wednesday estimated the number of dead Al Qaeda at around 2,000.
While talking about the progress made in the war against terrorism in Mississippi, the president said "we've captured over 2,000 of them in a pretty quick period of time. Another group of them, just about the same number, weren't quite as lucky."
This is at least the second time the president has used this line -- a line that has apparently been widely ignored.
At the Pentagon -- officials told Fox News they were puzzled at the president's statement -- and would like to know where he gets that number. The Pentagon has not released an estimate of Al Qaeda killed in the war against terrorism.
The officials said they "have no clue" where the president is getting the 2,000-killed figure, saying: "We don't know how many have been killed. We are not looking in every cave that we bombed. There could be 2 or 200 in each one."
In fact, while they acknowledge that the president must be getting that figure from somewhere, it's not coming from the Pentagon and Pentagon officials are anxious to find out where it does come from.
Fox News' Brian Wilson contributed to this report.
Bret Baier currently serves as anchor of Fox News Channel's "Special Report with Bret Baier" (weeknights 6-7PM/ET), the top-rated cable news program in its timeslot. Based in Washington, D.C., he joined the network in 1998 as the first reporter in the Atlanta bureau. Click here for more information on Bret Baier.