By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
So far there has been little serious criticism of Rumsfeld in Congress, and professional politicians are saying it's too late in the game for Bush to drop the Secretary, even if he wanted to. And anyhow, Rumsfeld represents an important Bush constituency of businessmen and defense contractors.
So Rummy carries on unchecked. The man Bush once called "Rumstud" said yesterday he wasn't sure he had seen the Saddam torture videos broadcast recently over Fox, but what the hell, one torture film is as good as another: "When you have people filming, in front of crowds cheering and clapping, you have people cutting off peoples tongues and cutting off people's heads, and chopping off their fingers and chopping off their hands, throwing them off a three-story building, you learn something about a group of people and how they live their lives and how they treated their people."
In response to the journalistic naysayers, Rummy still says we're successful in Iraq: "not only has the coalition managed to outpace the progress in postwar Germany, Japan, Bosnia, or Kosovo, they have done it under fire, while fighting a dangerous, low-intensity conflict."
The fact that the past week was marked by the worst violence in Iraq since the U.S. declared the war was over on May 1 doesn't seem to matter. Meanwhile, suicide attacks and rocket barrages continue. Some 80 Iraqi security officers have been killed in the last few months.
Who was conducting these attacks, a reporter asked the "Babe magnet"another of the affectionate nicknames given Rummy: Foreigners, he replied. One of the suspects said he was Syrian, but Rumsfeld doesn't believe him. "I think he was probably a Yemeni."
Last week U.S. Defense officials blamed Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, a top Saddam aide, for masterminding the recent strikes against U.S. and their Iraqi allies. The Pentagon biggies claimed to have obtained this information from captured fighters. This is an important point, since it ties what's left of Saddam's regime to foreigners, opening the way for renewed pressures on places like Syria and Lebanon.
But as the Washington Times points out today, al-Douri seems an unlikely suspect, since it is "indisputable" that he has been ill with leukemia since 1997 and requires transfusions, which would be hard to arrange amid the current fighting. Further, he is believed to be in the northfar away from the recent attacks. When he was asked about this, Rumsfeld changed the Pentagon line: "I really dont have enough conviction on the subject that I would want to try and confirm or deny it."
Where the "babe magnet" once was affectionately thought to be a funny old geezer, now he has become a sex icon, making conquest after conquest, in the words of the nationalreview.com, "of the hearts of women all over America, each beating a little harder at the thought of a man who, these ladies like to believe, doesn't need the help of a B-52 to make the earth move."
Newsmax.com, the big conservative web site, is fighting back against left-wing jibes and smears on the Secretary: "Now, less than five months after he helped President Bush formulate and execute a bold plan in which a U.S. invasion force drove to Baghdad and toppled the dictatorial government of Saddam Hussein in 21 days, Secretary Rumsfeld is under attackby the same coalition of Socialist-led anti-war demonstrators and radical left-wing Hollywood 'actors' that tried to undermine our fight against terrorism with their 'blame America' tactics during the war."
Additional reporting: Ashley Glacel