Frank Gaffney
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Don Rumsfeld is one of the most experienced men in Washington. So he is presumably not surprised at the fickleness of the chattering classes. Not so long ago, he got nothing but fabulous press and fawning treatment from Congress and the public. Now, the ?smart people? have formed up for a political lynch-mob demanding his head, with even Republicans insisting that he lose his job once the votes are counted in Iraq.

Even a veteran of decades of inside-the-Beltway and corporate bloodletting like ?Rummy? might be amazed by the grounds on which he is being pilloried, however.

Take for example the outrage that has accompanied his response in Kuwait to a soldier in the Tennessee National Guard about the lack of adequate armor protection for troops going into Iraq ? a response universally described by media and other Rumsfeld critics as ?arrogant.? Long-time Human Events editor Allan Ryskind recently observed that the sound-bite in question sounds entirely different in the full context of Secretary Rumsfeld?s respectful and characteristically thoughtful answer.

The first thing the Defense Secretary said was: ?I talked to the general coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored. They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they're not needed, to a place here where they are needed. I'm told that they are being ? the Army is ? I think it's something like 400 a month are being done. And it's essentially a matter of physics. It isn't a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it."

It was only then that Mr. Rumsfeld made what was taken by the troops ? who subsequently gave him a standing ovation ? as an unexceptionable observation: "As you know, you go to war with the army you have. They're not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.? While the soundbite typically began and ended with those two sentences, Rummy added a further assurance: ?Since the Iraq conflict began, the Army has been pressing ahead to produce the armor necessary at a rate they believe ? it's a greatly expanded rate from what existed previously ? but a rate that they believe is the rate that is all that can be accomplished at this moment.? He went on in this deliberate, responsible vein for several minutes more.

Imagine the Secretary?s surprise when, after these remarks were selectively quoted and repeatedly broadcast in the most unflattering light, the manufacturer of armored Humvees announced he could actually increase production further. More public castigation of Rumsfeld followed.

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Frank Gaffney

Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
 
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