Tactics and Substance in the 2004 Elections GoogleNews: Howard Dean

May 10, 2004

by V

Novak on Rumsfeld

Personally, I think there's been too much focus on Rumsfeld in the last several days; the problem is much bigger than one guy at the top. As Josh Marshall sums up today:
The point isn't that the president ordered or knew specifically that soldiers in Iraq were setting attack dogs on to naked prisoners or all the other outrages we're about to hear of. But going back almost three years these men made very conscious and specific decisions to disregard or opt out of the various international conventions, rules and traditions governing the treatment of prisoners of war and enemy combatants that are intended to prevent such things from happening.

It may be true that in this one MP Unit things got particularly out of hand. But even the instructions from above they and other unit appear to have been getting from superiors were quite bad enough.

...the embrace of lawlessness, systematic deception and an almost boundless incompetence have all made this possible. These guys created the climate in which this could happen. And then they were either too disorganized or too indifferent to stop it when things got out of hand.
Enemy of the State Bob Novak shares some behind-the-scenes Republican maneuvering on the topic of Rumsfeld's job -- they're much less supportive than the public is seeing on the news. (I read everything Novak writes very warily, but since it shows things as bad for Novak's friends, I'm inclined to believe he's not making it up.):

Few friends rush to aid Rumsfeld
While the White House officially vowed Rumsfeld's retention, there was no reinforcement in his natural political constituency. Last week, I talked to Republican members of Congress, GOP fund-raisers and contributors, defense consultants and even one senior official of a coalition partner. The clear consensus was that Rumsfeld had to go. ''There must be a neck cut,'' said the foreign official, ''and there is only one neck of choice.''

Rumsfeld is paying the price for the way he has run the Department of Defense for more than three years, but the price is also being paid by George W. Bush. From the first months of the Bush administration, I have heard complaints by old military hands that the new secretary's arrogance and insularity were creating a dysfunctional Pentagon. That climate not only limits the government's ability to deal with the prisoner scandal but also may have been its cause.

...In 2001, a few months after Rumsfeld was brought back for a second hitch at the Pentagon, an old friend of his gave me a disturbing report. A former senior government official who was now a defense industry consultant, he told me Rumsfeld was a disaster waiting to happen. Rumsfeld, insulated by his inner circle, was at war against the uniformed military, the civilian bureaucracy, and both houses of Congress.

This same former official last week told me the Iraqi prisoners fiasco was the inevitable outgrowth of Rumsfeld's management style. ''If it had not happened with this,'' he told me, ''there would have been a different disaster.''

...To well-informed outsiders, Rumsfeld's fate seems assured. Stratfor, the private intelligence service, reported last week: ''The amazing thing is not that the White House is preparing Rumsfeld for hanging but that it has taken so long.'' The report added that Rumsfeld ''consistently managed to get the strategic and organizational questions wrong.'' That harsh view is widely shared inside the Pentagon.

...The solution to Bush's dilemma was hinted at when he promised Rumsfeld would ''stay in my Cabinet.'' That triggered speculation: Would Rumsfeld switch jobs with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice? Would he replace the beleaguered George Tenet at the CIA? Whatever the solution, it was hard to find anyone outside Don Rumsfeld's E-ring at the Pentagon who felt he should remain there.
Let's not get bogged down in internal Pentagon politics. Rumsfeld stays or goes, I don't care much. (Though I don't see how Rumsfeld switching chairs with any other Cabinet members will satisfy anyone.)

I care about getting to the bottom of the situation in Abu Ghraib and finding out how many other US military prisons use such tactics, if any. And I care about how to reduce the damage this entire incident is doing to the view of America around the world.

Also, count me in as one who thinks the prison should be bulldozed to the ground. What were they thinking, taking up residence in Saddam's torture chambers?
Posted by V at May 10, 2004 10:09 AM

I can't believe Marshall is buying the brass' negligence plea. Rummy and his Yes Men didn't just create a 'climate', they ORDERED the Hurricane!

The torture that continues today at Abu Graihb and elewhere (Gitmo, etc) is a premeditated and deliberate POLICY of the PENTAGON. Anyone who fails to understand that is either hopelessly naive or an apologist.

Posted by: Night Owl at May 12, 2004 02:45 AM

Recommended Reading:

The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity: A Diplomat's Memoir
The Politics of Truth... A Diplomat's Memoir

Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush
Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush

Against All Enemies by Richard Clarke
Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror

LIES by Al Franken
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right

The Great Unraveling
The Great Unraveling

The Great Big Book of Tomorrow
The Great Big Book of Tomorrow

Clinton Wars
The Clinton Wars

Blinded by the Right
Blinded by the Right: The Conscience of an Ex-Conservative

Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo, and the Future of Combat

Subject to Debate: Sense and Dissents on Women, Politics, and Culture

Living History

The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton

John Adams

Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace

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