Rummy Must Go

WASHINGTON. D.C.—How long must the nation wait before Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld changes his mind and decides that, in fact, he is not "effective?"

God knows, Bush won't fire him. This country is not run by an elected president. It is run by a junta consisting of Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld, with Bush as their flack.

Bush's lifeline is his father. His intervention to rescue the son would bring into action the old team of Jim Baker and Brent Scowcroft. In the meantime, it's no wonder that Bush Junior is turning to the Baathists to try to achieve order in Iraq. His father found Saddam's goons very much to his liking in killing off thousands of Shiites in the south following the first Persian Gulf war. Then as now, we needed Saddam to create a cordon sanitaire along Iraq's southern border with Iran.

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    As for the prison torture, is the Military Times the only press outlet in this country that can see what's going on? The major independent newspaper catering to U.S. soldiers calls the scandal "a failure of leadership at the highest levels," and specifically names Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. "On the battlefield," the paper editorializes, "Myers' and Rumsfeld's errors would be called a lack of situational awareness-a failure that amounts to professional negligence." And it concludes, "Accountability here is essential—even if that means relieving top leaders from duty in a time of war."

    On Tuesday, though, via his lieutenant Steve Cambone, the undersecretary in charge of intelligence, Rumsfeld continued to confound the Senate Armed Services Committee with his interpretations of the Geneva Conventions, which throughout his tenure he has ignored, disdained, or used for his own political purposes. The latest evidence of the military's abject abandonment of the conventions is the order from Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez to allow attack dogs in the prisons. Why isn't Sanchez recalled to Washington to testify before Congress?

    Even before 9-11, the Bush administration wanted to go to war with Saddam. The afternoon of 9-11, Rumsfeld, who sat in his Pentagon office as the nation's air defense system collapsed around him, doodled on a piece of paper about going after Saddam. He participated in misleading everyone with the weapons of mass destruction and in floating stories about the Al Qaeda connection. Now he is following what Ted Kennedy calls "a public relations plan." There's another way of describing this plan: obstruction of justice.

    Nick Berg was asking for trouble going to Iraq in the first place, but he did so after attending one of the administration's touring trade fairs that sought to entice private companies to come to Iraq to do business. Over the past few days, insurgents have been steadily targeting these civilians—killing workers and sabotaging an oil pipeline.

    The U.S. has no ability to protect these civilian activities. Why does the administration continue to attempt to attract these contractors? And more to the point, why don't the Armed Services Committee and its lion-maned chairman, John Warner, question the use of civilian contractors in performing military functions for the US government on foreign soil? If this goes on much longer, the American taxpayers will be doling out reparations to the families of murdered civilian workers conned into going to Iraq.

     
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