Let me be clear upfront about this. What Gen. Sanchez says in this article in no way changes my opinion on the war. I still hold the position that our involvement in Iraq was inevitable. It was just a matter of when, and under what circumstances. We were, and still are, more than justified in our actions, under UN Resolutions going back to 1991, and it was still the right thing to do (though I can quibble over the timing).
With that said, this is a highly disturbing excerpt. I, and just about everyone else, thought Rumsfled was a bit of a controversial choice for SecDef. He was “old school,” coming out of the immedaite post-Vietnam era under Gerald Ford, and had been “out of it” for several years prior to his appointment. He also had a “difficult” past relationship with the Penatgon.
But this, if true, and I have little reason to doubt Gen. Sanchez, Rumsfled caused a lot more damage than had been previous thought. Set aside the memo, and the 2006 situation. That’s just the last act of this tragedy. The issue is the climate, and lack of adminstrative over sight and control, not only of the Pentagon, but of the whole Department of Defense.
We are left with two distinct possibilities. One is that Rumsfled knew excatly what was happening, signed off on it (as he is required to), and tried to cover his ass. To further that end, he essentially bribed senior Pentagon officials and officers to “play ball,” and back his “I didn’t know” story line. Unfortunately, this is the most likely scenario. It gets worse in that Gen. Tommy Franks most likely co-operated in this endeavor to cover his own ass. They botched the job, mainly to appease political expediency, and we got stuck.
The other, less likely scenario is that Rumsfeld in fact did not know, or was mislead by the CENTCOM staff. This I find to be unbelievable in an extreme. The implication would be that the Pentagon, specifically CENTCOM and the JCOS, acted on their own, with no knowledge or input from either the DOD or POTUS. This is the stuff that conspiracy theorists thrive on. I cannot subscribe to the idea that Rumsfeld was that ignorant, or stupid, and that the Pentagon staffers were running rogue. It’s just too far fetched.
In any case, this must be investigated again. Why again? Because the Pentagon already did, and refutiated Rumsfeld’s claims, though he embargoed it. That report, in its entirety needs to be made available to the concerned parties in the administration, and Congress. It should not be for public consumption. Why? Because the public, and thus any enemy, current or potential, cannot gleem any valuable information from said report. We do need to know the end results, but not all the specifics and details. That and 99% of the public at large would have no clue of what they’re looking at.