Bush Scandals List

207. Donald Rumsfeld

Donald Rumsfeld Defense Secretary from 2001-2006, master of Shock and Awe and Abu Ghraib, famously said on December 8, 2004, "As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They’re not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time." This was in response to a question about raiding garbage dumps to cobble together armor for flimsily protected Humvees. The problem was that this was over two years from when the buildup to the Iraq invasion began and over a year and a half after Bush’s Mission Accomplished speech declared major hostilities over. At the same time, Pentagon spokesmen defended Rumsfeld saying that he was not involved on a day to day basis with Iraq due to his work on the Pentagon’s quadrennial review. In other words, he was too busy with the Army he wished to have as opposed to the one he had or the one he needed for Iraq. This was all supposed to result in "force transformation" of the military into small, light but lethal units for future wars, again the very opposite of the no frills but numerous boots on the ground that General Shinseki had correctly predicted were needed for Iraq. Rumsfeld’s treatment of Shinseki sent a clear message to the uniformed military that they could agree with Rumsfeld and his minions or else. This was a sure guarantee for compliant generals and bad military advice.

Rumsfeld also took on the Pentagon’s arcane and antiquated procurement process. Under his leadership, he made a bloated and inefficient system even more so. Examples can be found here (An excellent resource for waste in government and in the Pentagon in particular.)

Rumsfeld ran the gamut from arrogantly dismissive to insincerely reflective. He told us that he not only knew that Saddam had WMD but he knew where they were. On March 30, 2003, he assured us, "They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat." When massive, uncontrolled looting broke out in Baghdad, his response on April 11, 2003 was "Stuff happens" and "freedom is untidy." Yet in his October 16, 2003 memo to General Myers, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and General Peter Pace, victory which he continued to believe in to the end had already become "a long, hard slog." Such an admission might have been expected to lead to a certain belated humility or at least a change in policy, but in the event it resulted in neither.

Rumsfeld could be unintentionally revealing, "illustrative" he would call it, as when he opined, "Reports that say that something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know." While comically convoluted, in the end he missed the point. It was not all the knowns that were the problem. It was what he thought he knew and didn’t that was. Long after the insurgency got started Rumsfeld was still talking about "deadenders". By the time Rumsfeld got around to admitting the insurgency’s existence, Iraq was already well on its way to civil war. Rumsfeld couldn’t see past his preconceptions. He punished those who disagreed with them. The result was he was constantly behind the curve addressing issues that had moved on.

In his list of accomplishments which he left at the Pentagon before leaving, Rumsfeld cites the liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq and the training and equipping of 131,000 Iraqi Ministry of Defense and 180,000 Iraqi Ministry of Interior forces as number one and two. Guantanamo is number four. Can anything be more telling? One country in civil war, another trending that way, a shell army, a cover for militias and death squads, and an international human rights controversy, these are what Rumsfeld without irony points to as his monuments.

    One Response to “207. Donald Rumsfeld”

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