May 09, 2004
“This administration needs to undertake a total overhaul of its Iraq policy; otherwise, it is courting a total disaster for us all.
“That overhaul needs to begin with President Bush firing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld—today, not tomorrow or next month, today.”
Those words were from Tom Friedman, a firm supporter of the war in Iraq, and the furthest thing from a partisan hack.
Early last year the IHT reported on rising anti-Americanism in South Korea, partly as a result of an incident in which American soldiers accidentally killed two South Korean girls. Nobody called for Rumsfeld’s resignation because he cannot be held responsible for every last action or mistake of every individual in the military.
Abu Ghraib is very different. We have heard for a year about the the importance of intelligence garnered from prisoners. This arena certainly should have been at the center of Rumsfeld’s concern, and we have been led to believe that it was.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, who performed up to the level of his position in questioning Rumsfeld, is now attempting to marginalize those of us calling for his resignation “before he even speaks” as politically motivated. We call for what is right, our outrage is rooted in the stain this incident has made on our country.
It has been clear from the start, and is even more clear now in light of Hersh’s second installment, that these were not renegade actions by a few individuals. It is also clear that there were grave warnings from numerous sources, ranging from the Red Cross to Bremer himself.
Most Americans would agree with this statement: “Anybody responsible for the acts at Abu Ghraib should be fired.”
Last week Rumsfeld said, “I take full responsibility.”
Those words were welcome, but were they just words?
The unusual and monumental decision to put Military Intelligence and contract interrogators in charge of detainees was so important that Rumsfeld can only be held directly responsible for it, no matter what. So the only possibilities are that 1) He put them in charge explicitly for the purpose of “softening up” detainees, 2) He did so with a wink and a smile, allowing “plausible deniability,” or 3) He put them in charge and gave them vastly insufficient oversight that would qualify as massive negligence. Any of these possibilities, in light of the staggering consequences, merits Rumsfeld’s dismissal.
Republicans have peppered the airwaves with the term “speculation” all morning. The only speculation is between the above three possibilities. The question of whether Rumsfeld is responsible has been answered - by him.