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Monday, May 18, 2009

Rumsfeld's Crusade

I was going to write a longer post about this, but I was out late last night and woke up tired, hungover, and lazy. Someone needs to invent some sort of fun that doesn't come with consequence.

Anyhow, turns out Donald Rumsfeld sucked on many levels as Secretary of Defense. GQ has a great piece online by Eric Draper and Frank Rich has a better take on it than I did anyway.

Still, I can't let this one get away without some sort of comment. During his turn overseeing the invasion of Iraq, Rummy the SecDef was receiving and distributing intelligence reports with covers like this:

Top Secret report cover with Bible verse

GQ has a slideshow, but they're all pretty much the same. This was the work of Major General Glen Shaffer, a director for intelligence serving both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Rumsfeld. According to Draper's article, "In the days before the Iraq war, Shaffer's staff had created humorous covers in an attempt to alleviate the stress of preparing for battle. Then, as the body counting began, Shaffer, a Christian, deemed the biblical passages more suitable. Several others in the Pentagon disagreed. At least one Muslim analyst in the building had been greatly offended; others privately worried that if these covers were leaked during a war conducted in an Islamic nation, the fallout -- as one Pentagon staffer would later say -- 'would be as bad as Abu Ghraib.'"

I'm not sure which would be scarier and more offensive, these biblically inspired covers or the ones (which haven't been published) that Draper describes as "humorous." You can probably guess the sort of thing that passes as funny with these guys.

The fact is that, despite the poor taste and questionable wisdom of putting these on official US documents, Rumsfeld allowed them. Because he was playing politics.

"He was cynically playing the religious angle to seduce and manipulate a president who frequently quoted the Bible," writes Rich in the New York Times. "But the secretary's actions were not just oily; he was also taking a risk with national security. If these official daily collages of Crusade-like messaging and war imagery had been leaked, they would have reinforced the Muslim world's apocalyptic fear that America was waging a religious war."

Someone's going to argue that publishing these covers puts the nation at risk. But it's like the Abu Ghraib photos -- their existence puts us at risk. If they didn't exist, there'd be no problem. The people who commit the act are the guilty ones, not the witnesses telling us about those acts. The words that come immediately to my mind are reckless, intolerant, and stupid.

In other words, typical Bush administration stuff.

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