Sanchez On Rumsfeld

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A fascinating glimpse, courtesy of Ricardo Sanchez, formerly in charge of combat in Iraq, into Rumsfeld's bureaucratic rear-end protection:

After the meeting ended, I remember walking out of the Pentagon shaking my head and wondering how in the world Rumsfeld could have expected me to believe him [that he had no idea that the plan was to rapidly draw down forces after conquering Baghdad]. Everybody knew that CENTCOM had issued orders to drawdown the forces. The Department of Defense had printed public affairs guidance for how the military should answer press queries about the redeployment. There were victory parades being planned. And in mid-May 2003, Rumsfeld himself had sent out some of his famous "snowflake" memorandums to Gen. Franks asking how the general was going to redeploy all the forces in Kuwait. The Secretary knew. Everybody knew.

So what was Rumsfeld doing?

Nineteen months earlier, in September 2004, when it was clearly established in the Fay-Jones report that CJTF-7 was never adequately manned, he called me in from Europe and claimed ignorance, "I didn't know about it," he said. "How could this happen? Why didn't you tell somebody about it?"

Now, he had done exactly the same thing, only this time he had prepared a written memorandum documenting his denials. So it was clearly a pattern on the Secretary's part, and now I recognized it. Bring in the top-level leaders. Profess total ignorance. Ask why he had not been informed. Try to establish that others were screwing things up. Have witnesses in the room to verify his denials. Put it in writing. In essence, Rumsfeld was covering his rear. He was setting up his chain of denials should his actions ever be questioned. And worse yet, in my mind, he was attempting to level all the blame on his generals.

It's interesting to me that Rumsfeld would rather be regarded as a total incompetent than responsible for any errors of judgment that ruined his war plan. He really was Bush's man, wasn't he?

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