June 18, 2007
More from the Seymour Hersh's blockbuster Taguba story.
Nevertheless, Rumsfeld, in his appearances before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees on May 7th, claimed to have had no idea of the extensive abuse. â€œIt breaks our hearts that in fact someone didnâ€™t say, â€˜Wait, look, this is terrible. We need to do something,â€™ â€ Rumsfeld told the congressmen. â€œI wish we had known more, sooner, and been able to tell you more sooner, but we didnâ€™t.â€
Rumsfeld told the legislators that, when stories about the Taguba report appeared, â€œit was not yet in the Pentagon, to my knowledge.â€ As for the photographs, Rumsfeld told the senators, â€œI say no one in the Pentagon had seen themâ€; at the House hearing, he said, â€œI didnâ€™t see them until last night at 7:30.â€ Asked specifically when he had been made aware of the photographs, Rumsfeld said:
There were rumors of photographs in a criminal prosecution chain back sometime after January 13th . . . I donâ€™t remember precisely when, but sometime in that period of January, February, March. . . . The legal part of it was proceeding along fine. What wasnâ€™t proceeding along fine is the fact that the President didnâ€™t know, and you didnâ€™t know, and I didnâ€™t know.
â€œAnd, as a result, somebody just sent a secret report to the press, and there they are,â€ Rumsfeld said.
Taguba, watching the hearings, was appalled. He believed that Rumsfeldâ€™s testimony was simply not true. â€œThe photographs were available to himâ€”if he wanted to see them,â€ Taguba said. Rumsfeldâ€™s lack of knowledge was hard to credit. Taguba later wondered if perhaps Cambone had the photographs and kept them from Rumsfeld because he was reluctant to give his notoriously difficult boss bad news. But Taguba also recalled thinking, â€œRumsfeld is very perceptive and has a mind like a steel trap. Thereâ€™s no way heâ€™s suffering from C.R.S.â€”Canâ€™t Remember Shit. Heâ€™s trying to acquit himself, and a lot of people are lying to protect themselves.â€ It distressed Taguba that Rumsfeld was accompanied in his Senate and House appearances by senior military officers who concurred with his denials.
â€œThe whole idea that Rumsfeld projectsâ€”â€˜Weâ€™re here to protect the nation from terrorismâ€™â€”is an oxymoron,â€ Taguba said. â€œHe and his aides have abused their offices and have no idea of the values and high standards that are expected of them. And theyâ€™ve dragged a lot of officers with them.â€
Having read a large portion of the excellent tactical history of the Iraq War, Cobra II, this seems so par for the course with Secretary Rumsfeld. I know plenty of liberals and conservatives alike who, when Rumsfeld was appointed, were fully prepared to see the man as one of the few truly experienced new members of the cabinet (Secretary Powell arguably being the other). Say what you will about their politics, they'd been there and done that.
Yet, through his entire tenure, Rumsfeld mismanaged the American defense establishment, tore into career officers who refused to play ball, surrounded himself with generals who wouldn't second-guess his edicts (can you say Tommy Franks), and deflected blame every time a misstep blew up in his face. Remember the looting directly after the invasion of Baghdad? What about the failure to anticipate the insurgency?
Cobra II and Seymour Hersh confirm it: Secretary Rumsfeld (in his second tour) is Secretary McNamara.
Most of the veteran generals from combats past were fully aware of the need for an overwhelming level of combat personnel in order to take Baghdad and secure the country. But, like a true technocrat, Secretary Rumsfeld pushed for a new paradigm. Keep it light, dirty and secret. Use less than 150,000 troops and focus on special ops. Assume that the Iraqis will welcome Americans as liberators. Quash contrary intelligence. Surround yourself with yes men. Run the entire shop like you're the CEO of a large corporation. Everything's rational. Decision trees are king. Outsource logistics, 'cause it's more "efficient." No need to red team stuff because all of your assumptions are scientifically accurate.
And, when everything goes sideways, deny foreknowledge and go on the offense against your critics.