Monday, May 10, 2004

The Real Reason Rummy's Got to Go

From a New Yorker article published last Wednesday:

Secrecy and wishful thinking, the Pentagon official said, are defining characteristics of Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, and shaped its response to the reports from Abu Ghraib. “They always want to delay the release of bad news—in the hope that something good will break,” he said. The habit of procrastination in the face of bad news led to disconnects between Rumsfeld and the Army staff officers who were assigned to planning for troop requirements in Iraq. A year ago, the Pentagon official told me, when it became clear that the Army would have to call up more reserve units to deal with the insurgency, “we had call-up orders that languished for thirty or forty days in the office of the Secretary of Defense.” Rumsfeld’s staff always seemed to be waiting for something to turn up—for the problem to take care of itself, without any additional troops.

Were the soldiers involved way the fuck out of line? Absolutely. But the abuse at Abu Ghraib should have been caught and dealt with a long time ago; world-wide outrage could have been stemmed if the White House has issued a press release saying that abuse had been found, stopped, and the responsible parties punished. Instead we hear it from 60 Minutes II and the Red Cross.


“This is beyond the pale in terms of lack of command attention,” a retired major general told me, speaking of the abuses at Abu Ghraib. “Where were the flag officers? And I’m not just talking about a one-star,” he added, referring to Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, the commander at Abu Ghraib who was relieved of duty. “This was a huge leadership failure.”

I don't think Rumsfeld was directly responsible for the abuse, and I think a lot of the calls for his resignation are politically rather than patriotically motivated. But the current administration has repeatedly decided that it knows better than the American public how to handle difficult situations, and despite repeatedly being proved wrong they maintain their culture of secrecy and denial. These people aren't deliberately trying to ruin the country as the conspiracy theorists want to believe, but they are not fit to be running it either. (I've not seen much from Kerry that leads me to believe him much better, but that's a separate rant).

Thought that scares me about November: Bush et. al. have lost a lot of political capital and public confidence over the last twelve months, and their numbers are the lowest they've ever been. But we've seen before that Karl Rove always has an ace up his sleeve. I suspect Dick Cheney will not be coming back as VP this fall, so where does that leave us? I'm very afraid that Bush will run with Dr. Rice as his VP. Is this possible? I think there are a lot of swing voters who would vote for a black, female VP candidate on principle. Seriously, has a National Security Advisor ever "gotten the call" to join a ticket?

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