Category Archives: Rumsfeld

Bush Fired Rummy?

Although this seems to have slid by unnoticed, last night during Billy Kristol’s interview with Jon Stewart, he made the rather shocking statement – flatly, as if everyone knew it was a fact – that Bush fired Donald Rumsfeld. WTF? Listen for thyself. Relevant explanations, speculations, and hallucinations encouraged.

The Myth of Corporate-Style Governing 4: Rumsfeld the Manager

For almost three decades, conservatives in both parties relentlessly pushed the idea that America should be governed as if it was a corporation where every activity was means-tested by cost/benefit analysis, departments were made efficient by being made smaller, costs were kept down in the traditional way (layoffs followed by underpaying and overworking those who were left), and any agency or appropriation unrelated to the military or helping business prosper was considered a waste of time and money that should be cut to the bone if it couldn’t be eliminated altogether. The Doctrine of Social/Economic Darwinism held that in the corporate world efficiency was rewarded and inefficiency punished, money was never wasted, management had to be effective, and results had to be positive or the “free market” would operate to weed out those companies who were not. It was a message whose simplicity proved to be enormously attractive to the general public.

Unfortunately.

Because the whole construct, as I argued in a series called “The Myth of Corporate-Style Governing” (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, with support here), was mythology. Corporations in fact often – even usually – reward ass-kissing over efficiency, waste enormous amounts of money in executive perks and bad ideas, produce shoddy and over-priced goods, are almost always satisfied with the appearance of success rather than the reality, have an unswerving faith in PR and advertising as replacements for quality, and have cultures which foster management teams and executives who are so far removed from the real world, so arrogant, and so used to blind obedience that they will deny problems and difficulties right up to the point where the company implodes in its own lies. (See Enron, WorldCom, the S&L’s, and too many other examples to enumerate here.)

If none of that sounds familiar, you haven’t been paying attention. Every standard corporate idea/belief/fad/illusion/technique/management style has been on display in the Bush Administration for the past 6 years. Not surprising given that virtually the whole admin was staffed by ex-corporate executives, lawyers, PR flacks, and lobbyists. We have been given the chance to find out just what “running govt like a corporation” looks like, and it’s not pretty.

Maybe that’s why we don’t hear that mantra all that much any more. The Republicans who used to run – and win – on a platform centered around making govt perform like a business have abandoned that approach wholesale as “corporate-style governing” has come to be synonymous with corruption, inefficiency, and incompetence. Various members of the Bush Admin illustrate the usual corporate management types that are familiar from business literature: Continue reading

Rumsfeld and Tenet In It Up to Their Eyeballs

Here we go again. This kind of report–of leading Bush Admin figures deliberately breaking one law or another–is becoming so routine that one wonders if one should even bother commenting on it. It’s like, ‘So what else is new?’ But one feels one should at least try to keep up with their latest criminal acts, if for no other reason so one can get the jokes Jay Leno will tell tonight. So, in that vein of public-spiritedness, here’s the newest in a long line:

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in October ordered a suspected terrorist captured in Iraq to be held in secret, a Pentagon official said Wednesday in what administration officials acknowledged was one of two violations of international law.The unidentified detainee, believed to be a leader of the outlawed Ansar al Islam group, was held without being given a prisoner number, and the International Committee of the Red Cross was not told about him, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.


CIA officials captured the man in July and spirited him out of Iraq. He was returned in October after the Justice Department issued a legal opinion stating that the international law embodied in the Geneva Convention forbade removing a prisoner of war from the nation in which he was captured, U.S. and intelligence officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.Tenet then asked Rumsfeld to take the prisoner into U.S. military custody at an undisclosed location, Pentagon spokesman Whitman said. He was kept in solitary confinement, away from other prisoners.

At Tenet’s request, Rumsfeld wrote a memo ordering Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, the ground commander in Iraq, not to assign the detainee a serial number and added words to the effect, an unidentified U.S. official said, of “do not acknowledge that we are detaining him to any international organization” — an apparent reference to the Red Cross.

Sanchez, head of Joint Task Force 7, the military command in Baghdad directing the war, complied with Rumsfeld’s order “in violation of international law,” the official added.

I probably should apologize for wasting your time with what is, for these guys, a pretty minor…um, indiscretion? But I thought you ought to know.

War on the Cheap

Jesus. I knew it was bad but it didn’t know it had come to this:

[O]n March 19, the night before the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Regiment, crossed the Iraqi border, Marines in Fox Company, drawn mainly from Utah and Nevada, learned they would not have armored vehicles equipped with powerful weapons. Instead, they would ride into combat in soft-sided trucks with few heavy arms.


In the days of fighting their way to Baghdad, Davis’ and Lee’s battalion, honored by the Reserve Officers’ Association as the nation’s finest Reserve infantry unit, found they were short on ammunition, hand grenades, signal devices, chemical weapon detectors and heavy guns.


At one point, food became so scarce that gunners held up signs to passing Army combat engineers scrawled with the words “Will Shoot for Food.”


Fox Company also was short on ammunition for its M240 Gulf machine guns, the largest weapon the infantry can carry. There were so few colored signal flares that the company scrapped plans to use them. Some Marines stuffed bullets into their pockets because they had no ammunition pouches. And the company had only 75 hand grenades for its 200 Marines, who are trained to carry two to four grenades each.


The Marines were so famished from hauling around more than 100 pounds of personal gear and digging foxholes that they begged food from passing Army combat engineers. The engineers tossed them extra MREs.Still, Marines picked through trash piles, looking for portions the Army troops hadn’t eaten. They usually found dehydrated cream and sugar packets intact. They gulped down the contents dry or mixed them with water for a concoction of calories and protein.

“We acted like Iraqi children,” said Lance Cpl. Brent Bower of Salt Lake City. “We were hungry.”

Finally, headquarters told the company to eat its humanitarian foodstuffs, which had been held in reserve for the Iraqis.

Donald Rumsfeld should be shot. Not impeached, not fired. Shot. At dawn by a firing squad of Marines from Iraq.

Unbelievable. There are no words for this. To send troops into battle without equipment or food. No excuse. No forgiveness.

Read the rest. You need to know how bad it was (is) and the excerpts only scratch the surface of what’s reported in the piece. It was even worse than that. Much worse.

I can’t go on.

(Link from Phaedrus)

A Prez Who Doesn’t Read

The AJC’s Cynthia Tucker nails it.

Perhaps the most disturbing thing about the pictures is the smiling visages of American soldiers as they force naked Iraqi men into degrading sexual poses. They remind me of photographs of lynchings from the bitter days of Jim Crow, when white Southerners brought their families out to watch the torture and execution of black Southerners, as if they were going to the circus. In those photos, too, the torturers are all smiles.The White House acknowledges that Rumsfeld alerted the president several weeks ago — if not months ago — to a sweeping investigation of complaints of abuse and torture of prisoners by U.S. soldiers, not just in Iraq but also in Afghanistan. But Bush never bothered to read the full report. For that matter, neither did Rumsfeld. He complained in a TV interview that the documents comprise “a mountain of paper.”

So neither man had any deep and abiding concern over the fact that U.S. soldiers were emulating some of the torment employed by Saddam Hussein when he held prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Before the release of the photos, neither seemed to care that abusing Iraqi prisoners — forcing them into just the sort of humiliating poses that are most offensive in the Islamic world — would only set back the cause of establishing a pro-Western democracy in Iraq.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Clueless, The Sequel.

See, the President doesn’t read, and Rumsfeld, who does, couldn’t be bothered. Too much work and, anyway, Junior had his bass-fishing expedition to think of. But then they saw the pictures. Words? Pish-tosh. Not visual enough. But pictures? ‘Oh, is that what those words mean?’

What, are we drealing with 2nd graders here?

Of course, there is another explanation: they didn’t have to read it because they already knew what was in it because they ordered it.

Would Rumsfeld "sing"?

Linda Milazzo suggests that one reason Bush is so eager to defend Rumsfeld is that, if sacrificed, Rumsfeld might “sing”. To lift two sentences:

The fact is, Rumsfeld’s giant ego won’t let him take the heat for Bush’s failed policies. And Bush knows it.

I don’t buy it. I think that Bush and Rumsfeld are firmly on the same side of this fight. Furthermore, I think that Rumsfeld has been so intimately involved in creating this mess that he can’t bad mouth the administration without bad mouthing himself. Nonetheless, It’s an interesting thought.

Should Rumsfeld Stay?

Jeff at Notes on the Atrocities has written a post in which he commits what he calls “liberal apostasy” by arguing that Rumsfeld shouldn’t resign. His argument is mostly political–

Strategically, I question the value of firing a Defense Secretary six months before an election. Things are critical in Iraq now, and the distraction and vacuum created by his departure won’t improve things in the short term. In fact, it’s a lot easier to see how the absentee oversight of the past year will only worsen if Rummy gets the ax. There’s a certain calculation here–I wouldn’t make this argument if I thought Bush was going to win re-election.Also, I don’t think it helps Democrats to score a political victory. Their target isn’t Rumsfeld per se, but the policies of the Bush administration. Trying to get Rummy fired is an effort to win a symbolic victory at the expense of the ideological war. Rummy is a footsoldier in the neocon rationale for invading Iraq; while getting him fired would be a rebuke of that rationale, it would remain symbolic. It’s far more potent politically to have the shamed Rumsfeld in the administration where he is an ongoing symbol of Bush’s Iraq failure. Remove him and the Bushies can move on. Keep him, and you have a constant reminder that this administration let torture happen (or worse–encouraged it).

–but I must say I have my doubts that ‘shame’ will play much part in Bush’s re-election, at least as far as Rummy is concerned. The shame that will count is the shame of the country that Abu Ghraib was allowed to happen, a shame that has to be laid right at Junior’s door or it doesn’t count for much. Rumsfeld is a side-issue.

I also don’t buy the ‘distraction’ argument. To be blunt, I think it’s silly. The situation in Iraq is so bone-balls screwed up that whether a new SecDef ‘distracts’ from the effort or not hardly matters. The idea that the ‘absentee oversight’ of the BA could get any worse is almost irony. A change of command would dump re-organization and cleaning-up duties right in the laps of the military authorities where they belong. Myers, Sanchez and Abizaid are under the gun; they’ve got no choice now but to straighten out the mess, SecDef or no SecDef.

Jeff allows as how there’s good reason for Ruymmy to go–‘The one mitigating argument, and it’s a very good one, is that the world needs to see Rummy’s head on a plate.’–but thinks that in the end it could backfire.

I agree that the biggest consequence of this debacle is our damaged standing in the world–and therefore our increased vulnerability to terrorists. But firing Rummy won’t actually change the policies that have enraged the world. The key neocons–Cheney, Condi, Wolfowitz–are still guiding policy. Rummy was actually an old cold warrior–more a Kissinger type than a neocon. Firing him may please the world, but it could have grave consequences in removing heat on the abysmal policy rationales that got us here in the first place.Rummy’s ultimately responsible for the torture. But firing him won’t prevent similar abuses in the future. Perversely, keeping him on the job may.

I doubt it. There’s no reason to believe Rumsfeld is in any way chastened and because of it is liable to be more careful or change his stripes. Maybe Jeff didn’t see or hear the end of Rumsfeld’s day of testimony. Going by the beginning you just might get the idea that he realized something was wrong, or at least that he wasn’t going to get away with pretending there wasn’t. Stay through to the end and you find the old Rumsfeld emerging from his temporary shell, snarling and snapping contemptuously at any suggestion that what happened was unusual or that he was in any way responsible for any of it.

But to say I disagree with Jeff’s reasoning is not to say I disagree with his conclusion. I don’t, but for an entirely different reason: The fact of the matter is that if Rumsfeld goes, whoever succeeds him is almost certainly going to be worse. A lot worse. If you doubt this, stay up into the wee hours tonight, lock your doors, pull down your shades, and turn off all the lights. Then, into the deep, dank, depressing darkness of 3am, whisper the name ‘Paul Wolfowitz’ and feel the chill in your spine, murmur the epithet ‘Richard Perle’ and experience the hairs standing up on the back of your neck. This is what I call the ‘Robert Bork’ argument: don’t reject a bad candidate when you have reason to suspect his replacement will take you a few steps further down toward Hell.

Those calling for Rummy to resign are speculating dreamily about a Powell replacement. This is fantasy, people, It ain’t gonna happen. The NWB’s are still very much in charge, as Jeff says, and Powell isn’t one of them. Cheney will go before Powell takes over Defense, and Cheney’s going nowhere.

We might as well leave Rumsfeld right where he is. We have nothing to gain by driving him out, which is why he’ll go whether we urge it or not: Junior needs him gone, for all the reasons Jeff points out. He’s an albatross around the campaign’s neck, and Karl knows it. Bush has to at least give the appearance of cleaning house, and Rummy–with Paul and Richie waiting in the wings–is the most dispensable scapegoat at hand. Oh, he’ll go alright, and he knows it. And Jeff is right about this: It won’t be a victory for us.

The Real Reason Rumsfeld Should Be Fired

And it isn’t because he ordered and condoned the torture. As horrible as it is–I say ‘is’ because I’ve seen no sign that G2 and the mercs have been removed from control–the truth is that any GOP SecDef would have done exactly the same thing. It’s our policy. It was done deliberately, yes, by Rumsfeld, but the other Likud-supporting neocons think no differently; Perle and Wolfowitz are even worse. If Rumsfeld should resign over Abu Ghraib, then so should Bush, most of the Cabinet, a healthy chunk of presidential advisors, much of the top tier of the US military, and a majority of Congress–anybody who approved the adoption or prosecution of Sharon’s hardline tactics in Iraq.

But, like it or not, it wasn’t just the mercs and MI goons doing the bashing; ordinary grunts were involved, and the question ‘How could they do that?’ is threatening to take over the story. Well, this is how and this is why Rumsfeld should resign:

The orders that sent most of the 320th Military Police Battalion to Iraq came on Feb. 5, 2003, as part of the tide of two-week-a-year soldiers being called up from the National Guard and the Army Reserve in preparation for war.In theory, the battalion’s specialty was guarding enemy prisoners of war, a task that was expected to be a major logistical problem. In fact, an Army report said few of the 1,000 reservists of the 320th had been trained to do that, and fewer still knew how to run a prison. They were deployed so quickly from the mid-Atlantic region that there was no time to get new lessons.

“You’re a person who works at McDonald’s one day; the next day you’re standing in front of hundreds of prisoners, and half are saying they’re sick and half are saying they’re hungry,” remembered Sgt. First Class Paul Shaffer, 35, a metalworker from Pennsylvania. “We were hit with so much so fast, I don’t think we were prepared.”

He doesn’t ‘think’ they were prepared. He’s being kind. They weren’t prepared at all. Almost none of them were. And that is the crime for which Rumsfeld is directly responsible.

What is now crystal clear is that Rummy’s chickenhawk background left him with a serious handicap for a Defense Secretary: his concept of what the American military is and how it operates seems to have been based on Davy Crockett movies where the call goes out to the untried, untested frontiersman and they respond by rallying ’round and crunching the evil-doers with their deadly accurate long-rifles. You think that’s an exaggeration?

Rumsfeld’s whole defense strategy was built around the assumption that the new realities required speed above all other response attributes. Right-wing militarists just love their toys, but the problem is that they tend to over-value them. Rummy, trained in America’s corporate culture, brought its key illusions into govt with him, one of the strongest of which is that the worst machine in the world is still worth more than the best hundred workers in the world put together. It never seems to occur to them that a) there are some things machines just can’t do; and b) somebody has to run the damn things, and those somebodies need training. Rumsfeld, like all clueless CEO’s everywhere, thinks like a corporate manager: ‘If we’ve got a problem here, why we’ll just take personnel from there and plug them in; they can learn on the job.’

At the level of the factory-floor, I have seen that idiotic assumption create more havoc, chaos, and accidents than any other single dopey corporate illusion, most of which are stoopid and clueless but relatively harmless. This one gets people killed, either because they’re asked to do dangerous tasks for which they’re unprepared or because dropping untrained workers into a high-pressure environment causes an incredible amount of stress to build up.

The treatment of our troops in Iraq represents not one but three distinct corporate illusions: 1) Untrained workers are as good as trained ones; 2) untrained workers can learn on the job; and 3) they don’t need vacations. In a military setting, any one of those illusions is deadly; put all three of them into play at the same time and they’re positively toxic.

And that’s what Rumsfeld did. When the Neocon Wonder Boys were putting their strategies and uninformed wishful-thinking into actual plans back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, they made that judgment about the importance of speed (didn’t think I’d get back to that, didja?) in responding to threats. Then, under the necessity of meeting this self-imposed requirement, they came up with a bunch of cockamamie notions about ‘perpetual readiness’ and using the National Guard and military reserves as integral parts of the invasions they were planning (N Korea, Iran, and the Philippines were all on the list along with Iraq). It seems never to have occurred to them that reservists were in many cases years away from their last intensive training, or that the NG was largely composed of young men playing glorified paintball one weekend a month. Or less. For no reason other than that they needed the bodies available for the plans to work on paper, they included these inactive segments as if they were fully-trained and ready to go on a moment’s notice. When Rumsfeld assured Congress during his confirmation hearings that the US military was capable of instantaneous response times in several theaters at once, that’s what he was talking about.

The PNAC (Project for the New American Century) plans had ‘hardline, know-nothing, corporate whacko’ written all over them. When the NWB’s tried to push Clinton into adopting them, it was the military establishment who squashed them, calling them ‘unrealistic’ and ‘not militarily feasible’–they knew damn well that the reserves and the NG would need massive re-training before they were ready to be usefully deployed, and by ’94 they were certain that a Republican Congress intent on cutting corporate taxes would never approve the funds for that re-training; they were right.

But Rumsfeld, as Secretary of Defense, didn’t know that. His faith-based strategies didn’t allow for realities that would undercut them. So, despite being told by military authorities that his plans were the bunk, Rumsfeld went ahead with them, rushing hundreds of thousands of untrained or poorly trained soldiers into the field without either proper equipment or supervision.

To the degree that our regular troops overstepped their bounds due to exhaustion and poor preparation, Rumsfeld is directly responsible for their appalling behaviour. He adopted those plans and he insisted on their implementation in the face of opposition from the US military structure. What’s really appalling here is the level of his incompetence.

Rumsfeld Will Resign

He is prepared for it, he expects it, and–most important–Karl will decide it’s in the best interests of Junior’s re-election. Look for it this summer when the brouhaha dies down. My guess is earlier rather than later to give the campaign and its Mighty Wurlitzer army of sock-puppets time to get past it, say, late May, early June. But it could be as late as August.

Another First!

First Junior apologized, now Rumsfeld. The right-wing Mighty Wurlitzer will no doubt be as livid with contempt and as scathing in their ridicule of these two obvious signs of gutlessness and pandering to polls as they were of Clinton’s apologies.

Right?

No?

Oh.

How come?

Richard Clarke on 60 Minutes

It’s stuff like this that, twice a year or so, makes me wish I had a tv. Still, I’m getting an idea what’s in store from an article on CBS’ website. If I were you, I wouldn’t miss this one. Here’s my favorite bit:

After the president returned to the White House on Sept. 11, he and his top advisers, including Clarke, began holding meetings about how to respond and retaliate. As Clarke writes in his book, he expected the administration to focus its military response on Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. He says he was surprised that the talk quickly turned to Iraq.”Rumsfeld was saying that we needed to bomb Iraq,” Clarke said to Stahl. “And we all said … no, no. Al-Qaeda is in Afghanistan. We need to bomb Afghanistan. And Rumsfeld said there aren’t any good targets in Afghanistan. And there are lots of good targets in Iraq.”

Uh-huh. Clarke thought Rummy was joking, probably because Rummy’s statement reminded him of the same joke it reminded me of. You know the one. One night you see a man down on his hands and knees under a streetlight. “Are you alright?” you ask. “Yes,” he says. “I lost a contact across the street and I’m looking for it.” Baffled, you want to know why, if he lost it on that side of the street, is he looking on this side? “The light’s better over here,” he says.

Only it wasn’t, of course, a joke. Or it was, but it was real, too. The neocon fantasy-mind in full flower. Rummy was scrambling. He recognized 9/11 for the Golden Oppurtunity to invade Iraq that it was; he just hadn’t figured out how to justify it yet, and his first attempt was, well, LAME. Subsequent attempts weren’t much better.

Unfortunately, most of the interview isn’t that…amusing.

“The president dragged me into a room with a couple of other people, shut the door, and said, ‘I want you to find whether Iraq did this.’ Now he never said, ‘Make it up.’ But the entire conversation left me in absolutely no doubt that George Bush wanted me to come back with a report that said Iraq did this.”I said, ‘Mr. President. We’ve done this before. We have been looking at this. We looked at it with an open mind. There’s no connection.’

“He came back at me and said, “Iraq! Saddam! Find out if there’s a connection.’ And in a very intimidating way. I mean that we should come back with that answer. We wrote a report.”

Clarke continued, “It was a serious look. We got together all the FBI experts, all the CIA experts. We wrote the report. We sent the report out to CIA and found FBI and said, ‘Will you sign this report?’ They all cleared the report. And we sent it up to the president and it got bounced by the National Security Advisor or Deputy. It got bounced and sent back saying, ‘Wrong answer. … Do it again.’

“I have no idea, to this day, if the president saw it, because after we did it again, it came to the same conclusion. And frankly, I don’t think the people around the president show him memos like that. I don’t think he sees memos that he doesn’t– wouldn’t like the answer.”

“Wrong answer. Do it again.” When they wouldn’t, Cheney put Doug Feith in charge of stovepiping Ahmad Chalabi’s fairy tales–which Junior did like because they had all the right answers–directly to him, by-passing those ignorant IC bums who kept insisting Ahmad was full of it.

Barbara Tuchman would have had a field day with this crew.

Corrective Addition

I meant to credit Digby at Hullabaloo for the link and to recommend that you read his post on this subject. He digs out Woodward’s fawning account of the same meeting, and the difference between Woodward’s Admin-sanctioned Official Version and Clarke’s recollections is striking. Woodward’s sycophancy has been legend since the tripe he published about Bill Casey; this pretty much finishes him as a serious journalist–if he ever was one.

Digby also makes the argument that the radcons are stuck in their antiquated, cold-war mindset, and that that may have been at the root of their unreal take on reality.

It’s not only the White House that refuses to see terrorism for what it is instead of what they’d like it to be, the right wing punditocrisy is similarly clinging to their outmoded cold warrior worldview. All this talk of appeasement in the Spanish elections fails to account for the fact that it doesn’t really matter how any single country reacts to these Islamic terrorist actions. You can’t appease them or not appease them because they are not operating from any real premise.Al Qaeda terrorists have a delusional view of world events that’s only rivaled by the neocons here in the US. And they share a similar misunderstanding of the forces that bring about change in the world.

Go read the whole thing.

Update: Phaedrus on Clarke on 60 Minutes.