by Heather Wokusch
July 15, 2003
In a little-known 1974 document entitled "Rumsfeld's Rules," the Secretary of Defense offers his philosophy on life and work. But how well does Rumsfeld follow his own rules? Here's a sampler of quotes from the text, followed by Rumsfeld's actual performance.
1. "You and the White House staff must be seen to be above suspicion."
Rumsfeld made a series of odd statements right after 9/11. When asked why the government had not foreseen a terrorist attack on US soil, he responded "There were lots of warnings." In the next breath he tried to deflect guilt from the Pentagon with, "But the state and local law enforcement officials have the responsibility for dealing with those kinds of issues." Rumsfeld then added "... we're talking about plastic knives and using an American Airlines flight filed with our citizens and the missile to damage the building."
OK, let's get this straight. There were lots of warnings? Local officials are responsible for terrorism prevention? THE MISSILE?
2. "Be precise. A lack of precision is dangerous when the margin of error is small."
During a Department of Defense news briefing (Feb 12, 2002) Rumsfeld was asked if there was any evidence Iraq had supplied terrorists with weapons of mass destruction. His response:
"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."
Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. Secretary ...
3. "Don't do or say things you would not like to see on the front page of the Washington Post."
Or better yet, manipulate the media to your own advantage. At a recent Pentagon "town hall" meeting, Rumsfeld was asked how media war coverage could be improved. His response, "penalize the papers and the television ... that don't give good advice and reward those people that do give good advice."
You know we're in trouble when accurate news reporting is confused with the Pentagon's idea of "good advice."
4. "When cutting staff at the Pentagon, don't eliminate the thin layer that assures civilian control."
Civilian control? How about P2OG (Proactive, Preemptive Operations Group), the Pentagon's proposal to stimulate terrorists into making attacks, leaving them open to counterattacks by US forces; in other words, to provoke terrorist attacks against US citizens in order to save US citizens from terrorist attacks.
And while you're watching those July 4th fireworks this year, bear in mind Rumsfeld's staffers have been urging city officials across the country to include the Iraq war in their Independence Day celebrations. According to one Orange County official, "I got the impression that they had a list of every city in the nation that had applied for a pyrotechnics permit, and were calling them to persuade them to be part of the program."
Spontaneous displays of appreciation for the troops? Calls to support service members by bringing them back home? Hell no! Better to label an invasion "liberation" and manufacture domestic support for even more foreign adventures.
Then of course, maybe Rumsfeld was just trying to make nice after insulting fallen service members and the nation's capitol with, "You got to remember that if Washington, D.C., were the size of Baghdad, we would be having something like 215 murders a month. There's going to be violence in a big city." In other words, the death of US troops in Iraq is just a statistic.
The D.C. gaffe is reminiscent of an earlier Rumsfeld comment that draftees to Vietnam offered "no value, no advantage, really, to the United States armed services over any sustained period of time, because the churning that took place, it took enormous amount of effort in terms of training, and then they were gone." Gone indeed: 58,152 US troops killed in Vietnam, 20,352 of them draftees.
5. "Remember the public trust."
Testifying to the Armed Services Committee, Rumsfeld denied knowledge the US had ever sent biological weapons to Iraq, despite a widely-read 1994 Senate Report explicitly documenting such sales.
And of course, while Rumsfeld warns of rogue states holding America "hostage to nuclear blackmail," he forgets to mention he sat on the board of a company that helped create North Korea's nuclear program.
Memory lapses or downright lies? Either way, not doing much to inspire trust.
And who can forget Rumsfeld's proposed "Defense Transformation Act" which would eliminate whistleblower protections, unions and appeal rights for all DoD employees, exempt the Pentagon from anti-pollution and wildlife protection laws, and make it harder for Congress to keep tabs on the Pentagon. As if that weren't enough, the Act (which critics have dubbed "The Halliburton bill of rights") would hand the Pentagon unprecedented powers to authorize no-bid service contracts worth billions.
6. "It's easier to get into something than to get out of it."
Afghanistan and Iraq, for example.
Heather Wokusch is a free-lance writer with a background in clinical psychology. Her work as been featured in publications and websites internationally. Heather can be contacted via her website: http://www.heatherwokusch.com