May 13, 2004

Kerry on Rummy and Abu Ghraib.

Senator Kerry wants to rush to fire Rumsfeld (not something I'm totally hostile to) and delay the courtsmartial of the accused troops. Oddly enough, I find myself in agreement with the Senator on something.

Speaking on Imus in the Morning,

In his most expansive comments on U.S. mistreatment of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib, the presumptive Democratic nominee said this amounts to "major failures in command."

Asked if Kerry is assessing partial blame to Bush in the prison scandal, Rand Beers, a Kerry foreign policy adviser, said in an interview, "Undoubtedly, that kind of ambiguity, yes, is a failure of leadership."

I agree. And since the President is at the top of the pyramid, he shares some blame. And his employers will act in judgement this November, just as Kerry wishes. Kerry may or may not like the results. However, I don't recall Kerry calling for Janet Reno's head, much less Clinton's, when 51 people died in a botched raid. Must be an epiphany.

Kerry proposed two immediate changes: Oust Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and delay court-martial hearings for Americans charged with mistreating the prisoners.

"I think it's sort of a panicked move to try to display to the Arab world and others that we are going to, you know, do things immediately," Kerry said of impending hearings. "But I think you have to think of morale of the military and the chain of command."

Kerry is free to feel that way about Rumsfeld. It's Bush's decision to make. As for the courtsmartial, they should take their course as they take their course. I can see reasons defense attorneys would want things to slow down. I can also see where they'd want them to speed up, dependind on how they wish to mount a defense. Mostly delay, though. I say let's just keep an eye on the system and let it work. No matter when they happen, they're going to be a circus. Based on his voting record, this is a new concern on the part of Kerry for the military chain of command and morale, however.

Kerry has a few ideas about who to replace Rumsfeld with, too.

Kerry said dismissing Rumsfeld during wartime would not hinder efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he offered up a few candidates to replace the defense secretary: GOP Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and John W. Warner (Va.) and Democratic Sen. Carl M. Levin (Mich.), a staunch war critic.

"If America has reached a point where only one person has the ability in our great democracy to manage the Pentagon and to continue or to put in place a better policy even, we're in deeper trouble than you think," Kerry said. "I don't accept that. I just don't accept that. I think that's an excuse. The fact is that we need a change in policy."

I agree - no one is indispensible. It's actually one of the harder things to learn as an officer in the service - that you can miss a day, a week, a month - and your unit will go on without you. Especially if you've done your job correctly. It brings to mind a story about GEN Creighton Abrams when he was Chief of Staff and dying of cancer. He didn't spare himself. The Army was in troubled times and needed a strong hand at the helm. One of his staff took him to a window, overlooking Arlington Cemetery, and told him, "That place is full of indispensible people. And the Republic still stands. The Army still serves." We can live without Rumsfeld. But this is as much about stirring up turmoil for Bush as it is about Rumsfeld.

Look at the suggested replacements... all Senators. As I recall, Les Aspin, a brilliant legislator, sucked as a SecDef. Cohen sucked as a SecDef, though not as badly. McCain is sometimes touted as a VP candidate for Kerry - and is no real friend of Bush. Levin? Puh-leeeze. Warner, maybe. Those choices are more about politics (if he's serious) than about making the Pentagon work right.

In two cases, it would knock off incumbent GOP senators, and in two cases would put hostile people in the Pentagon. Kerry is doing more to show what kind of people he thinks should be SecDef if he were Prez. He missed a great opportunity. He should have recommended women. Boxer, Feinstein, Albright, heck, Reno even. She has some experience commanding military forces in the field - and 'taking responsiblity' for the results.

The whole article is here.

Comments on Kerry on Rummy and Abu Ghraib.
Chris Van Dis briefed on May 13, 2004 11:18 AM

Right or wrong, but I have modified my position on the whole prisoner abuse issue. If this was instituted by someone fairly high up as a means of obtaining information, or even discouraging the animals we are fighting, then I don't care that it happened, or if it continues. If someone wants to make it official policy to torment these bastards until they crack, die, or whatever, then I will vote for them.

If this was because some sickos decided to use the prisoners as sexual playthings to satisfy whatever deviate urges they have, against standing orders, then fry 'em. Or life terms, whatever. Unfortunately, I believe it is the latter of the two.

As for whether Rumsfeld should resign or be canned, if Bush still trusts him, and the senior military leadership still trusts him, then the democrats can urinate up a rope. When Ted Kennedy apologises and resigns for the outrageous things he has spouted, then maybe I would be more sympathetic to calls for his departure. But not much.

Chris Van Dis briefed on May 13, 2004 11:29 AM

Oops, sorry about the double post.

John of Argghhh! briefed on May 13, 2004 01:34 PM

What double post? 8^)

Chuck briefed on May 13, 2004 04:58 PM

I am surprised Kerry didn't mention Saddam Hussein as a possible SecDef, if he really wants someone who would throw a wrench in the works, as he obviously does.

Kerry briefed on May 13, 2004 06:51 PM

The next word out of Ted ("I dove repeatedly in to the water in an attampt to rescue Miss Kopechne")Kennedy's mouth following a Rumsfeld resignation will be, 'This is not enough', or 'There are others responsible' of other such swivel. His and all the dim's supposed outrage is political posturing, nothing else. Ask yourself this, should the Pope have stepped down over the sexual abuses of the Catholic priests? Of course not. This national flagellation over these 'abuses' is staged and indecent in its disingenuousness.

Bob briefed on May 14, 2004 03:34 PM

This is but a small part of a big war. Treat it as such, move on.

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