Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Defying The President

In a slashing critique of Donald Rumsfeld's new memoir, "Slate"'s Fred Kaplan essentially accuses the former secretary of defense and Vice President Dick Cheney of defying President Bush and helping fuel an insurrection that cost thousands of lives.

At issue are two disastrous orders by Jerry Bremer, who ran Iraq after the U.S.-led coalition ousted Saddam Hussein in 2003. One was to disband the Iraqi army, the other to ban members of Saddam's Baathist party from the new government. Many whom Bremer scorned ended up joining the bloody insurgency. Kaplan surmises that the orders came from Cheney, with Rumsfeld's blessing and in spite of decisions to the contrary in which the president had participated:
[T]he NSC did take up the issue of what to do with the Iraqi army and the Baathists. On March 10, a week before the invasion, a principals meeting—attended by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Tenet, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all of their top aides—decided that, after the war, a truth and reconciliation commission would be set up, similar to those in post-apartheid South Africa and post-Communist Eastern Europe, to ferret out the undesirable Baathists from those who could work for a new government. Staff analysts predicted that only about 5 percent of the party would have to be removed. On March 12, at another principals meeting, it was decided to disband the Republican Guard—Saddam's elite corps and bodyguards—but to call the regular army's soldiers back to duty and to reconstitute their units after a proper vetting.

Both of these decisions were unanimous. In other words, Bremer's first two orders constituted acts of massive insubordination. Most of the NSC officials, including Bush, first read about the two orders in a newspaper.

Rumsfeld doesn't mention either of these meetings in his 815-page memoir.

No comments: