By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
WASHINGTON, D.C.It's well known that Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, is running a not so little government across the Potomac at the Pentagon, replete with a huge army and surrounded by his own spies and ideological gurus. His program has been promoted with a slick propaganda operation that nearly flopped with Jessica Lynch but recovered nicely with the utterly unproved so-called medical claim she was raped.
Well, there's always room for improvement. And the people around Rumsfeld aren't wasting any time fooling around with the tricky and time-consuming intricacies of the court system. Like Oliver North back in the good old Contra days, these can-do guys are out to save the nation whatever it takes.
This morning Newsmax.com, the big right-wing website, published an interview with Tommy Franks, the former chief of the Central Command who led the war against Iraq, under the headline, "Gen. Franks Doubts Constitution Will Survive WMD Attack." In an interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine, the general, now living in Tampa, argues that in the event of a WMD hit on the U.S., our form of government would go out the window. "The Western world, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we've seen for a couple of hundred years in this grand experiment that we call democracy."
The general drove his point home: "It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western worldit may be in the United States of Americathat causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important."
Franks is sure to turn a few heads with his interview, but he's not the only one.
There's Richard Perle, perhaps the foremost and certainly most outspoken war hawk around Rumsfeld. He sits on a Pentagon advisory board and has long argued for the war in Iraq. In London this week, he startled observers of the diplomatic scene by saying flat out: "I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing." Brushing aside international law to support going to war is pretty much the opposite of what the Bush people have been saying all along. Bush has argued that the attack was legal because of the UN charter and existing UN Security Council resolutions. And because it was self-defense.
Finally, there's Lieutenant General William Boykin, who came under fire in the press for saying the U.S. was a "Christian nation" locked in "spiritual battle" with evil. He now heads a key Pentagon office that targets top enemies like Saddam and Bin Laden, neither of whom has been captured.
Attending a National Prayer Breakfast, General Boykin described "a demonic presence in [Mogadishu, Somalia] that God revealed to me as the enemy," reports The Washington Post. Speaking of Somali warlord Osman Ato, Boykin said, "He went on CNN and he laughed at us, and he said, 'They'll never get me because Allah will protect me. Allah will protect me.' Well, you know what, I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."
So far Rumsfeld has stuck by Boykin. Answering reporters questions recently, Rummy said the general had "an outstanding record" and that many in the government and military freely express their views. "That's the way we live," the defense secretary said. "We're a free people. And that's the wonderful thing about our country. And I think that for anyone to run around and think that that can be managed and controlled is probably wrong. . . . Saddam Hussein could do it pretty well, because he'd go around killing people if they said things he didn't like."
Rumsfeld emphasized: "We believe in this administration that . . . the war on terrorism is not a war against a religion. It is not a war against a people or a country. It is a war against a group of people who have taken the subject of terrorism and tried to hijack a religion and make it look like that's part of their religion, which it is not."
Additional reporting: Ashley Glacel