A reporter asked what was being done to prevent or mitigate civilian casualties. Or perhaps I embellish; perhaps he asked merely about civilian casualties in general.
At any rate, Rumsfeld's answer was to laugh. It was a low, cackling chuckle, and as if on cue -- or rather, command -- the generals around him, as well as his civilian underlings, echoed his sentiment.
Did I believe he was merely laughing callously and cavalierly at the idea of gutters limned with headless five year-olds? No. Rather, he is a Republican, a party that cannot communicate to the American people without the use of code words and dogwhistles, so that they may wear a veneer of moderation even as they reassure their extremist base (they're all Schwarzenegger until the votes are tallied, at which point they all become James Inhofe); Rumsfeld is also a Bush appointee, a vizier in a court where Newspeak is the lingua franca. His immediate thought was doubtless born of projection; he credited the reporter as some sort of fellow word mangler from the opposite camp, who had chosen to thrust with a rhetorical rapier, and thought "oh no, I see the trap there and you're not going to get me with that, ho ho ho." At that point, it was not about lives, but about supremacy in the sphere of public relations. He was laughing, I'm sure, merely to shrug off what he perceived not as a reporter's question, but as a liberal media agent's attack.
Regardless, on a more primal level, one can simply hear the question, and the response, and take that moment as a final confirmation that we are ruled not by lofty men, but by monsters -- gratuitously nasty, deeply stupid monsters.
This is actually a really funny joke, but you can't get it unless you're as smart as Ann Coulter...