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Thursday, May 13, 2004

Battle Rumsfeld - Iron Blogger Republican - Closing Argument

During this battle, we have debated many issues in which Donald Rumsfeld is central. We started with the current scandal and moved on to debating whether or not we are losing the war.

The Challenger decided that we are losing the war and has tried to lay the blame at the feet of Rumsfeld. Unfortunately, for the Challenger, he had only a couple of facts that were indisputable. They are:
He (Rumsfeld) was wrong about the specific location of WMD's and "He planned for an invasion of Iraq without planning for an exit from
Iraq."


Still, it's questionable that he didn't plan an exit strategy. It may be as simple as that circumstances changed his plan. Much like what happened in Kosovo.
"The administration does not have an entry and an exit plan," said Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H. "It's a messy, ugly situation, and you clearly need to have some entry-exit plan."

Some in Congress believe the Clinton administration misled them when it said U.S. troops would be in Bosnia for only one year. "We've been there for three years, with no end in sight, and have spent nearly $ 12 billion," Hutchison said.

I bring up Kosovo to illustrate that you really can't plan and conceive of every possible situation. We have only completed our first year and we have more to do to reach goals in Iraq--and the President, by the way, has been telling us for over a year (even from the deck of the U.S.S. Lincoln last year, below the "Mission Accomplished" banner) that even though we defeated the Baathest regime in Iraq that we still had a lot more to do, a
great deal more to sacrifice, and would require a lot of perseverence and patience.

Kosovo was merely a small humanitarian mission by comparison, and just in case you've forgotten -- we're still there.

It is my opinion that the demands for Rumsfeld's resignation are nothing more than angry partisanship. The facts of the Abu Graib scandal are already being spun in a ridiculously partisan fashion. So, without spin, here are the facts:
October-December 2003: Many of the alleged abuses at Abu Ghraib take place during this time period.

October 13-November 6, 2003. Maj. Gen. Donald Ryder, provost marshal of the Army, investigates conditions of U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, including Abu Ghraib. He finds problems throughout the prisons. Some units, including the 800th Military Police Brigade, did not receive adequate training to guard prisons, he notes. He also says military police (MPs) should not assist in making prisoners more pliable to interrogation, as
their job is to keep prisoners safe.

January 13, 2004: Army Spc. Joseph M. Darby, an MP with the 800th at Abu Ghraib, first reports cases of abuse at the prison.

January 16: Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez orders a criminal investigation into reports of abuse at the prison by members of the brigade. The military also announces the investigation publicly.

January 18: A guard leader and a company commander at the prison are suspended from their duties, and Sanchez admonishes Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who commanded the brigade.

January 19: Sanchez orders a separate administrative investigation into the 800th. Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba was appointed to conduct that inquiry on Jan. 31.

Late January-early February: President Bush becomes aware of the charges sometime in this time period, according to White House spokesman Scott McClellan, although the spokesman has not pinpointed a date. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld tells Bush of the charges, McClellan has said.

February 2: Taguba visits Abu Ghraib. Throughout the month, his team conducts interviews in Iraq and Kuwait.

March 12: Taguba presents his report to his commanders. He finds widespread abuse of prisoners by military police and military intelligence. He also agrees with Ryder that guards should not play any role in the interrogation of prisoners.

March 20: Six soldiers face charges stemming from alleged abuse at the prison. The military announces the beginning of possible court-martial proceedings.

Mid-April: Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, asks CBS-TV to delay airing photographs it has obtained of abuse at Abu Ghraib. Myers says the photos would exacerbate an intense period of violence under way in Iraq. CBS delays its program for two weeks.

April 6: Third Army commander Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan approves Taguba's report.

April 28: CBS airs the photos, setting off an international outcry. Bush first learns about these photos from the television report, his aides say.

April 30: The military announces Miller has been put in charge of U.S.-run prisons in Iraq.

May 1: Sanchez approves Taguba's report. Six more soldiers receive administration reprimands; two are relieved of their duties. A seventh receives a lesser reprimand. Other investigations are also under way, including into the military intelligence unit that conducted interrogations at the prison.

May 3: Bush urges Rumsfeld to make sure that any guilty U.S. soldiers are punished for "shameful and appalling acts." Rumsfeld's aides say he has not yet read the Taguba report, although they say he has kept abreast of the allegations of mistreatment.

May 6: Bush apologizes to the Arab world for abuse, says Rumsfeld will stay in his Cabinet.

May 7: Senate and House committees call Rumsfeld to testify. He apologizes for abuses.

Those are the facts. This whole drama is happening because of nothing but photos, because everything else was known and under criminal investigation months ago. And every soldier learns about lawful and unlawful orders in basic training. There is no excuse for the horrific actions of those soldiers. None.

Those criminals aren't victims of "the system." They did it and they liked it. Nobody forced them to smile for the camera. The smiling faces of those soldiers is more than enough to convince me that they weren't ordered to humiliate and abuse those prisoners.

Obviously, the buck has stopped at the President's desk. As soon as allegations of criminal activity were made, criminal investigations were conducted, people were indicted and/or relieved of duty, and the President was informed. As soon as it came to light that horrific photos existed, the President and the Secretary of Defense took full responsibility.

That's called stopping the buck where it belongs.

Now, when a mailman goes on a shooting rampage at the post office, do we fire his boss? No, we don't. Not unless we found out the boss knew it was going to happen and did nothing about it. "You were in charge of the post office and one of your employees went on a shooting rampage--therefore you're responsible for all those deaths?" That's what my distinguished opponent is suggesting "the buck stops here means to him." Excuse me if I
don't believe he really means that, or would hold any Democratic politician to such ludicrous standards.

And what what would the political fallout be if Rumsfeld resigned? First, it will send a signal to terrorists that we are weak and we bend to politcal pressure. Something they always believed to be true. Are they correct?

It will also increase pressure for us to cut and run. Something that we must not do. We have a responsibility to finish what we started. The Iraqis, the American people and our soldiers deserve better than to abandon something we've all worked so hard for due to the inexcusable behavior of a few irresponsible people.


Rosemary, the QOA

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