When the American Military Nearly Mutinied
- 1 Background: Military Officers Protest 9/11
- 2 Rumours of Mutinous Dissent in Military
- 3 Military Officers on Where Duty Lies
- 4 The Generals' revolt over Rumored Planned Invasion of Iran
- 5 Barksdale Incident as Protest
- 6 Military Leaders Seek Rumsfeld Resignation
- 7 Interview with Donald Rumsfeld on Generals' Criticism of His Performance
Background: Military Officers Protest 9/11
As painful and heartbreaking as was the loss of innocent lives and the lingering health problems of thousands more, a most troublesome and nightmarish probability remains that so many Americans appear to be involved in the most heinous conspiracy in our country's history. (Statement of Col, George Nelson, M.B.A., U.S. Air Force (ret), Patriots Question 9/11, downloaded from http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/, 12 August 2007.)
After five years of talking to many individuals in the intelligence community, in the military, foreign intelligence agencies, and a whole host of other people, people from the air traffic control community, the FAA, I came to the conclusion that after five years what we saw happen on that morning of September 11, 2001, was the result of a highly-compartmentalized covert operation to bring about a fascist coup in this country. ...
These people need to be brought to justice, if not by our own Congress, then by an international tribunal in the Hague, in the Netherlands. Bush, Blair, Rumsfeld, Cheney should be sitting in the same dockets where Milosevic and the Croatia-Serbia war criminals sat. (Wayne Madsen, former U.S. Navy Intelligence officer, specialist in electronic surveillance and security, Patriots Question 9/11, downloaded from http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/m 15 Aug. 2007.)
We cannot let the pursuit of justice fail. Those of us in the military took an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." Just because we have retired does not make that oath invalid, so it is not just our responsibility, it is our duty to expose the real perpetrators of 9/11 and bring them to justice, no matter how hard it is, how long it takes, or how much we have to suffer to do it.
We owe it to those who have gone before us who executed that same oath, and who are doing the same thing in Iraq and Afghanistan right now. Those of us who joined the military and faithfully executed orders that were given us had to trust our leaders. The violation and abuse of that trust is not only heinous, but ultimately the most accurate definition of treason. (Statement of Lt. Col. Guy S. Razer, M.S., Patriots Question 9/11, downloaded http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/, 6 August 2007.)
I believe the [9/11] Commission failed to deeply examine the topic at hand, failed to apply scientific rigor to its assessment of events leading up to and including 9/11, failed to produce a believable and unbiased summary of what happened, failed to fully examine why it happened, and even failed to include a set of unanswered questions for future research. ..
It is as a scientist that I have the most trouble with the official government conspiracy theory, mainly because it does not satisfy the rules of probability or physics. The collapses of the World Trade Center buildings clearly violate the laws of probability and physics. ...
More information is certainly needed regarding the events of 9/11 and the events leading up to that terrible day. (Statement of Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D., Patriots Question 9/11, downloaded http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/, 6 August 2007.)
A lot of these pieces of information, taken together, prove that the official story, the official conspiracy theory of 9/11 is a bunch of hogwash. It’s impossible. … There’s a second group of facts having to do with the cover up. … Taken together these things prove that high levels of our government don’t want us to know what happened and who’s responsible.…
Who gained from 9/11? Who covered up crucial information about 9/11? And who put out the patently false stories about 9/11 in the first place? When you take those three things together, I think the case is pretty clear that it’s highly placed individuals in the administration with all roads passing through Dick Cheney.
I think the very kindest thing that we can say about George W. Bush and all the people in the U.S. Government that have been involved in this massive cover-up, the very kindest thing we can say is that they were aware of impending attacks and let them happen. Now some people will say that’s much too kind, however even that is high treason and conspiracy to commit murder. (Statement of Col. Robert Bowman, Ph.D., Patriots Question 9/11, downloaded http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/, 6 August 2007.)
Of course Bush knew about the impending attacks on America. He did nothing to warn the American people because he needed this war on terrorism. (Statement of Lt. Col. Stephen L. Butler, EdD, U.S. Air Force (ret) – Former Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the Defense Language Institute. Served as a B-52 Radar Navigator in the Gulf War. 24-year Air Force career, on Patriots Question 9/11, downloaded from http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/, 14 Aug. 2007.)
I knew from September 18, 2001, that the official story about 9/11 was false. That was when I realized that the perpetrators had made a colossal blunder in collapsing the South Tower first, rather than the North Tower, which had been hit more directly and earlier.
Other anomalies poured in rapidly: the hijackers' names appearing in none of the published flight passenger lists, BBC reports of stolen identities of the alleged hijackers or the alleged hijackers being found alive, the obvious demolitions of WTC 1 and 2 [each 1300+ feet tall, 110 stories], and WTC 7 [570 feet tall, 47 stories, and not hit by an airplane], the lack of identifiable Boeing 757 wreckage at the Pentagon, the impossibility of ordinary cell phone (as opposed to Airfone) calls being made consistently from passenger aircraft at cruising altitude, etc., etc., etc.
I have taken off my uniform as a US Army intelligence officer, but I have not taken back my oath of loyalty to the United States of America and its Constitution. If it comes to a fight to the finish for my nation: count me in! (Statement of Capt. Gregory M. Zeigler, PhD, U.S Army, Former U.S. Army Intelligence Officer, Patriots Question 9/11, downloaded from http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/Zeigler%20Statement.html, 16 Aug. 2007.)
We have found solid scientific grounds on which to question the interpretation put upon the events of September 11, 2001 by the Office of the President of the United States of America and subsequently propagated by the major media of western nations. (William Christison – Former National Intelligence Officer and Director of the CIA's Office of Regional and Political Analysis, Patriots Question 9/11, downloaded from http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/m 15 Aug. 2007.)
Rumours of Mutinous Dissent in Military
Donn de Grand-Pre: (laughs) Yeah, you see there's a definite cleavage between the military of the Pentagon and the civilian hierarchy - and never the twain shall meet.
Alex Jones: Well, there was an article right after that you talk about in mid-2002 in the Washington Times saying the morale in the Pentagon had never been lower. And you would think it would be high right after 911 and getting together to fight the enemy. But it said that the officers didn't believe in the "mission" or in the intelligence.
DGP: That is correct. That came out of the Washington Times and I can verify that from Col. Dick Schultz, who is a friend of mine in the Joint Chiefs. Morale was not only low but he said some of the troops are ready to mutiny. If it wasn't for the fact that the government, the civilian hierarchy, has control over retirements, they would probably be blood in the streets by now. (Transcript: Alex Jones Interviews Col. Donn de Grand-Pre, U.S. Army (ret.): Explosive New 9/11 Revelations and Explanations,” The Alex Jones Show, downloaded from http://www.prisonplanet.com/022904degrand.html, 13 Aug. 2007.)
Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning [for an attack on Iran] are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing—that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack—but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections. (Philip Giraldi, Attack on Iran: Pre-emptive Nuclear War, The American Conservative, 2 August 2005 cited in Michel Chossudovsky, “Is the Bush Administration Planning a Nuclear Holocaust?” Globalresearch.ca, 22 Feb. 2006, downloaded from http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=20060222&articleId=2032, 27 Aug. 2007.)
Another Pentagon report on desertions in addition to a new one under date of April 9, 2007, speak of the exploding rate of desertions and the very strong possibility of mutiny. The Pentagon hopes that such rebellions would be in Iraq where they can be ruthlessly dealt with out of sight of the increasingly enraged American public. Shooting dozens of soldiers would be much easier in the privacy of Baghdad barracks rather then at Ft. Bliss. (TBR News April 13, 2007, TBRNews.org, 13 April 2007, downloaded from http://www.tbrnews.org/Archives/a2666.htm, 6 Sept. 2007.)
Military Officers on Where Duty Lies
It is the absolute responsibility of everybody in uniform to disobey an order that is either illegal or immoral. …
[Soldiers] will be held accountable for the decisions they make. So they should in fact not obey the illegal and immoral orders to use weapons of mass destruction. …
I believe that a lot of the commanders, in fact, do recognize that they do have a free choice in [the matter of the use of WMDs], that they should not execute orders that are illegal and immoral, such as any order to use any kind of a weapon of mass destruction. …
[Though they are normally obliged to carry out an order of their superior] they can still not commit crimes against humanity. They can still not execute any kinds of orders that might tell them to use weapons of mass destruction. …
[Though their decisions may affect their careers,] they still have very clear choices to make, and their choices will have major impact, both on the troops who look to them for leadership right now and on their own personal fate when this is all over. (Jorge Hirsh, “Gen. Pace to Troops: Don’t Nuke Iran. Illegal, Immoral Orders Should Not be Obeyed,” Anti-war.com, 10 March 2006, downloaded from http://www.antiwar.com/orig/hirsch.php?articleid=8678, 6 Sept. 2007.)
Based on the above, I contend that should some civilian order you to initiate a nuclear attack on Iran (for example), you are duty-bound to refuse that order. I might also suggest that you should consider whether the circumstances demand that you arrest whoever gave the order as a war criminal.
I know for a fact that in recent history (once under Nixon and once under Reagan), the military nuclear chain of command in the White House discussed these things and were prepared to refuse an order to “nuke Russia .” In effect they took the (non-existent) “button” out of the hands of the President.. We were thus never quite as close to World War III as many feared, no matter how irrational any president might have become. They determined that the proper response to any such order was, “Why, sir?” Unless there was (in their words) a “damn good answer,” nothing was going to happen.
I suggest that if you in this generation have not had such a discussion, perhaps it is time you do. In hindsight, it's too bad such a discussion did not take place prior to the preemptive “shock and awe” attack on Baghdad . Many of us at the time spoke out vehemently that such an attack would be an impeachable offense, a war crime against the people of Iraq , and treason against the United States of America . But our voices were drowned out and never reached the ears of the generals in 2003. I now regret that I never sent a letter such as this at that time, but depended on the corporate media to carry my message. I must not make that mistake again. (Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, ret., National Commander, The Patriots, Sept. 14, 2007, downloaded from http://www.oregontruthalliance.org/?q=node/178, 17 Sept. 2007.)
The Generals' revolt over Rumored Planned Invasion of Iran
Some of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.
Tension in the Gulf region has raised fears that an attack on Iran is becoming increasingly likely before President George Bush leaves office. The Sunday Times has learnt that up to five generals and admirals are willing to resign rather than approve what they consider would be a reckless attack. “There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”
A British defence source confirmed that there were deep misgivings inside the Pentagon about a military strike. “All the generals are perfectly clear that they don’t have the military capacity to take Iran on in any meaningful fashion. Nobody wants to do it and it would be a matter of conscience for them.
“There are enough people who feel this would be an error of judgment too far for there to be resignations.”
A generals’ revolt on such a scale would be unprecedented. “American generals usually stay and fight until they get fired,” said a Pentagon source. Robert Gates, the defence secretary, has repeatedly warned against striking Iran and is believed to represent the view of his senior commanders.
The threat of a wave of resignations coincided with a warning by Vice-President Dick Cheney that all options, including military action, remained on the table. He was responding to a comment by Tony Blair that it would not “be right to take military action against Iran”.
Iran ignored a United Nations deadline to suspend its uranium enrichment programme last week. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted that his country “will not withdraw from its nuclear stances even one single step”.
The International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran could soon produce enough enriched uranium for two nuclear bombs a year, although Tehran claims its programme is purely for civilian energy purposes.
Nicholas Burns, the top US negotiator, is to meet British, French, German, Chinese and Russian officials in London tomorrow to discuss additional penalties against Iran. But UN diplomats cautioned that further measures would take weeks to agree and would be mild at best.
A second US navy aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS John C Stennis arrived in the Gulf last week, doubling the US presence there. Vice Admiral Patrick Walsh, the commander of the US Fifth Fleet, warned: “The US will take military action if ships are attacked or if countries in the region are targeted or US troops come under direct attack.”
But General Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said recently there was “zero chance” of a war with Iran. He played down claims by US intelligence that the Iranian government was responsible for supplying insurgents in Iraq with sophisticated roadside bombs, forcing Bush on the defensive over some of the allegations.
Pace’s view was backed up by British intelligence officials who said the extent of the Iranian government’s involvement in activities inside Iraq by a small number of Revolutionary Guards was “far from clear.”
Hillary Mann, the National Security Council’s main Iran expert until 2004, said Pace’s repudiation of the administration’s claims was a sign of grave discontent at the top.
“He is a very serious and a very loyal soldier,” she said. “It is extraordinary for him to have made these comments publicly, and it suggests there are serious problems between the White House, the National Security Council and the Pentagon.”
Mann fears the administration is seeking to provoke Iran into a reaction that could be used as an excuse for an attack. A British official said the US navy was well aware of the risks of confrontation and was being “seriously careful” in the Gulf.
The US air force is regarded as being more willing to attack Iran. General Michael Moseley, the head of the air force, cited Iran as the main likely target for American aircraft at a military conference earlier this month.
A senior defence source said the air force “could do a lot of damage to the country if there were no other considerations”. But army chiefs fear an attack on Iran would backfire on American troops in Iraq and lead to more terrorist attacks, a rise in oil prices and the threat of a regional war. Britain is concerned that its own troops in Iraq might also be drawn into any American conflict with Iran, regardless of whether the government takes part in the attack.
Bush is still pursuing a diplomatic agreement with Iran — urged on by secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.
One retired general who participated in the “generals’ revolt” against Donald Rumsfeld’s handling of the Iraq war said he hoped his former colleagues would resign in the event of an order to attack. “We don’t want to take another initiative unless we’ve really thought through the consequences of our strategy,” he warned. (Michael Smith and Sarah Baxter, “US generals ‘will quit’ if Bush orders Iran attack,” Sunday Times, UK, 25 Feb. 2007, downloaded from http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1790665/posts, 6 Sept. 2007.)
WASHINGTON - Admiral William Fallon, then President George W. Bush’s nominee to head the Central Command (CENTCOM), expressed strong opposition in February to an administration plan to increase the number of carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf from two to three and vowed privately there would be no war against Iran as long as he was chief of CENTCOM, according to sources with access to his thinking.
Fallon’s resistance to the proposed deployment of a third aircraft carrier was followed by a shift in the Bush administration’s Iran policy in February and March away from increased military threats and toward diplomatic engagement with Iran. That shift, for which no credible explanation has been offered by administration officials, suggests that Fallon’s resistance to a crucial deployment was a major factor in the intra-administration struggle over policy toward Iran.
The plan to add a third carrier strike group in the Gulf had been a key element in a broader strategy discussed at high levels to intimidate Iran by a series of military moves suggesting preparations for a military strike.
Admiral Fallon’s resistance to a further buildup of naval striking power in the Gulf apparently took the Bush administration by surprise. Fallon, then Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, had been associated with naval aviation throughout his career, and last January, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates publicly encouraged the idea that the appointment presaged greater emphasis on the military option in regard to the U.S. conflict with Iran. ….
Fallon’s refusal to support a further naval buildup in the Gulf reflected his firm opposition to an attack on Iran and an apparent readiness to put his career on the line to prevent it. A source who met privately with Fallon around the time of his confirmation hearing and who insists on anonymity quoted Fallon as saying that an attack on Iran “will not happen on my watch”.
Asked how he could be sure, the source says, Fallon replied, “You know what choices I have. I’m a professional.” Fallon said that he was not alone, according to the source, adding, “There are several of us trying to put the crazies back in the box.” (Gareth Porter, “CENTCOM Commander’s Veto Sank Bush’s Threatening Gulf Buildup,” Commondreams, 15 May 2007, downloaded from http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/05/15/1212/, 11 Sept. 2007.)
“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” a source with close ties to British intelligence said. “There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible.”
A British defence source confirmed that there were deep misgivings inside the Pentagon about a military strike. “All the generals are perfectly clear that they don’t have the military capacity to take Iran on in any meaningful fashion. Nobody wants to do it and it would be a matter of conscience for them.
“There are enough people who feel this would be an error of judgment too far for there to be resignations.”
A generals’ revolt on such a scale would be unprecedented. “American generals usually stay and fight until they get fired,” said a Pentagon source. OK, let’s review. “A source with close ties to British intelligence.” An ocean and several offices removed from the U.S. generals in question. “Deep misgivings.” Doesn’t quite rise to the level of career-ending revolt, but OK. “There are enough people who feel this would be an error of judgment too far for there to be resignations.” Actually sounds like this one is saying no resignations, but I think its some convoluted Brit syntax, overlaid on speculation.
And here’s the most significant remark of all: “American generals usually stay and fight until they get fired.” Here’s the one source in closest proximity to the generals, but it’s unclear what the context and intent of this Pentagon source’s remark is. Is the source saying, never happen … shocking if it did happen … or that’s how serious this situation is. Who knows? Only the source and the reporter. Presumably if the source did in fact say five top generals and admirals are on the verge of resigning, that would be in the article. Rather than that ”source close to British intelligence.”
Let’s assume it’s true. We have five generals who want to bolt at a time when our soldiers are being killed by Iranian-backed terrorists, when Iranian agents and weapons have been seized in Iraq, and Iran is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons? Let them go. We have more generals. Unfortunately, charges of desertion in the face of the enemy would not stick.
Contrary to what’s said in this article, we’ve had political fights between generals and presidents before. Presidents win. What will be entertaining to watch is how the people who are unconvinced by the evidence against Iran will seize on this Fleet Street exercise in wishful thinking, which doesn’t even rise to the level of trial balloon. (Jules Crittenden, “Sunday Morning Mutiny,” JulesCrittenden.com, downloaded from http://www.julescrittenden.com/2007/02/25/sunday-morning-mutiny/ , 6 Sept. 2997.)
Barksdale Incident as Protest
There is informed speculation that the movement of the nuclear weapons to Barksdale was leaked because the air force base is a staging area for deployment to the Middle East. The Pentagon recently drew up plans to hit 1200 targets inside Iran in a massive bombardment campaign aimed at destroying its military and overthrowing its government. The movement of the nuclear weapons may have been an alert to the public by disgruntled members of the military that such plans would include the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons. (Wayne Madsen, “Questions Remain over Nuclear-Armed B-52 Over Midwest,” OpEdNews.com, 7 Sept. 2007, downloaded from http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_wayne_ma_070907_questions_remain_ove.htm, 7 Sept. 2007.)
It is very likely that the planned massive aerial attack against Iran's military infrastructure and underground nuclear facilities will use bunker busting nuclear weapons. The question is, what can be done to prevent a preemptive military attack on Iran that may use tactical nuclear weapons to destroy its nuclear facilities? In 2006, a similar effort to stage a preemptive nuclear strike against Iran was prevented by a revolt of the generals. According to Seymour Hersh:
In late April, the military leadership, headed by General Pace, achieved a major victory when the White House dropped its insistence that the plan for a bombing campaign include the possible use of a nuclear device to destroy Iran's uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz, nearly two hundred miles south of Tehran. …. "Bush and Cheney were dead serious about the nuclear planning," the former senior intelligence official told me. "And Pace stood up to them. Then the world came back: 'O.K., the nuclear option is politically unacceptable.' http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/07/10/060710fa_fact .
It may be significant that General Peter Pace was not reappointed as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Pace was opposed to a nuclear strike against Iran. Was he not reappointed in order to clear the decks for a more permissive environment within the Joint Chiefs of Staff for an attack that could use tactical nuclear weapons? It appears so given the coincidence of reports of an imminent attack and purchase of $4.5 billion in stock options predicting a collapse in the US stock market.
There needs to be public opposition to a preemptive military attack against Iran, and exposure of the underlying agenda behind it and those intending to profit from it. An informed public is the best safeguard against unwarranted abuses of executive power such as a preemptive attack against Iran that does not have the support of the American people or Congress. In addition to raising public awareness, it will be very helpful for individuals to project thoughts of peace and goodwill to the Middle East, and especially to Iran. The Princeton Project on Global Conscious Project at Princeton University has demonstrated the effect of large numbers of people placing their attention in ways that can impact on global events (see: http://noosphere.princeton.edu/ ). If millions of people could project a positive vision of peace and harmony to Iran and U.S. military forces in the region, then such a preemptive attack may be prevented.
The period leading up to September 21 will be critical for the whole planet as the signs are all too evident that a preemptive attack against Iran, almost certainly involving nuclear weapons, is imminent. The humanitarian cost in terms of possible radioactive fallout, and casualties from the destruction of Iran's military and much of its civilian infrastructure may be catastrophic for the Persian Gulf region. Furthermore, the U.S. and global economy will go into a deep free fall in the event of dramatic increases in oil prices and further instability in the Middle East. Out of this looming tragedy, investors with possible CIA connections and insider knowledge, plan to profit in ways that may be used to secretly fund a second Manhattan Project. (Michal E. Salla, “Will the U.S. Attack Iran Before September 21? - Are CIA Front Companies Investing $4.5 Billion to Profit from attacking Iran?” Exopolitics, 4 Dept. 2007, downloaded from http://exopolitics.org/Exo-Comment-57.htm, 7 Sept. 2007.)
2. There is opposition within the political establishment in the US as well as within the ranks of the Armed Forces. While this opposition does not necessarily question the overall direction of US foreign policy, it is firmly opposed to military adventurism, including the use of nuclear weapons. These voices within the institutions of the State, the Military and the business establishment are important because they can be usefully channeled to discredit and ultimately dismantle the "war on terrorism" consensus. The broadest possible alliance of political and social forces is, therefore, required to prevent a military adventure which in a very real sense threatens the future of humanity. (Michel Chossudovsky, “’Cold War Shivers’: War Preparations in the Middle East and Central Asia,” Global Research, 6 Oct. 2006.)
Military Leaders Seek Rumsfeld Resignation
The calls by a growing number of recently retired generals for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have created the most serious public confrontation between the military and an administration since President Harry S. Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1951. In that epic drama, Truman was unquestionably correct -- MacArthur, the commanding general in Korea and a towering World War II hero, publicly challenged Truman's authority and had to be removed. Most Americans rightly revere the principle that was at stake: civilian control over the military. But this situation is quite different.
First, it is clear that the retired generals -- six so far, with more likely to come -- surely are speaking for many of their former colleagues, friends and subordinates who are still inside. In the tight world of senior active and retired generals, there is constant private dialogue. Recent retirees stay in close touch with old friends, who were often their subordinates; they help each other, they know what is going on and a conventional wisdom is formed. Retired Marine Lt. Gen. Greg Newbold, who was director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the planning period for the war in Iraq, made this clear in an extraordinary, at times emotional, article in Time magazine this past week when he said he was writing "with the encouragement of some still in positions of military leadership." He went on to "challenge those still in uniform . . . to give voice to those who can't -- or don't have the opportunity to -- speak."
These generals are not newly minted doves or covert Democrats. (In fact, one of the main reasons this public explosion did not happen earlier was probably concern by the generals that they would seem to be taking sides in domestic politics.) They are career men, each with more than 30 years in service, who swore after Vietnam that, as Colin Powell wrote in his memoirs, "when our turn came to call the shots, we would not quietly acquiesce in half-hearted warfare for half-baked reasons." Yet, as Newbold admits, it happened again. In the public comments of the retired generals one can hear a faint sense of guilt that, having been taught as young officers that the Vietnam-era generals failed to stand up to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and President Lyndon Johnson, they did the same thing.
Second, it is also clear that the target is not just Rumsfeld. Newbold hints at this; others are more explicit in private. But the only two people in the government higher than the secretary of defense are the president and vice president. They cannot be fired, of course, and the unspoken military code normally precludes direct public attacks on the commander in chief when troops are under fire. (There are exceptions to this rule, of course: In addition to MacArthur, there was Gen. George McClellan vs. Lincoln; and on a lesser note, Maj. Gen. John Singlaub, who was fired for attacking President Jimmy Carter over Korea policy. But such challenges are rare enough to be memorable, and none of these solo rebellions metastasized into a group, a movement that can fairly be described as a revolt.)
This has put President Bush and his administration in a hellish position at a time when security in Iraq and Afghanistan seems to be deteriorating. If Bush yields to the generals' revolt, he will appear to have caved in to pressure from what Rumsfeld disingenuously describes as "two or three retired generals out of thousands." But if he keeps Rumsfeld, he risks more resignations -- perhaps soon -- from generals who heed Newbold's stunning call that as officers they took an oath to the Constitution and should now speak out on behalf of the troops in harm's way and to save the institution that he feels is in danger of falling back into the disarray of the post-Vietnam era.
Facing this dilemma, Bush's first reaction was exactly what anyone who knows him would have expected: He issued strong affirmations of "full support" for Rumsfeld, even going out of his way to refer to the secretary of defense as "Don" several times in his statements. (This was in marked contrast to his tepid comments on the future of his other embattled Cabinet officer, Treasury Secretary John Snow. Washington got the point.) In the end, the case for changing the secretary of defense seems to me to be overwhelming. I do not reach this conclusion simply because of past mistakes, simply because "someone must be held accountable." Many people besides Rumsfeld were deeply involved in the mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan; many of them remain in power, and some are in uniform.
The major reason the nation needs a new defense secretary is far more urgent. Put simply, the failed strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be fixed as long as Rumsfeld remains at the epicenter of the chain of command. Rumsfeld's famous "long screwdriver," with which he sometimes micromanages policy, now thwarts the top-to-bottom reexamination of strategy that is absolutely essential in both war zones. Lyndon Johnson understood this in 1968 when he eased another micromanaging secretary of defense, McNamara, out of the Pentagon and replaced him with Clark M. Clifford. Within weeks, Clifford had revisited every aspect of policy and begun the long, painful process of unwinding the commitment. Today, those decisions are still the subject of intense dispute, and there are many differences between the two situations. But one thing was clear then and is clear today: Unless the secretary of defense is replaced, the policy will not and cannot change.
That first White House reaction will not be the end of the story. If more angry generals emerge -- and they will -- if some of them are on active duty, as seems probable; if the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan does not turn around (and there is little reason to think it will, alas), then this storm will continue until finally it consumes not only Donald Rumsfeld. The only question is: Will it come so late that there is no longer any hope of salvaging something in Iraq and Afghanistan? (Richard Holbrooke, “Behind the Military Revolt,” Washington Post, 16 April 2006, downloaded from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/14/AR2006041401451_pf.html
What would Hawkeye think of this!? Independent thinking at the Army Times? The Military Times Media - the publisher of the papers avidly read by millions of American military service men and women and their families - has summoned up its collective courage and editorialized upon the man at the top of the Pentagon. First reported by NBC, the Army Times and its partner military weeklies have released the full text of their Monday editorials calling for.... the removal of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. No kidding.
Here's the direct Army Times link
... all along, Rumsfeld has assured us that things are well in hand. Now, the president says he’ll stick with Rumsfeld for the balance of his term in the White House.
This is a mistake. It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed. But when the nation’s current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads.
These officers have been loyal public promoters of a war policy many privately feared would fail. (e.g., They drank the Kool-aid too. -- w.s.h.) They have kept their counsel private, adhering to more than two centuries of American tradition of subordination of the military to civilian authority.
And although that tradition, and the officers’ deep sense of honor, prevent them from saying this publicly, more and more of them believe it. Rumsfeld has lost credibility with the uniformed leadership, with the troops, with Congress and with the public at large. His strategy has failed, and his ability to lead is compromised. And although the blame for our failures in Iraq rests with the secretary, it will be the troops who bear its brunt. This is not about the midterm elections. Regardless of which party wins Nov. 7, the time has come, Mr. President, to face the hard bruising truth: Donald Rumsfeld must go.
Amazing.... So far, no comment from the Pentagon or the man himself. No doubt Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly, Coulter, et.al. will be demanding the government cut off ties to the Military Times Media (owned since 1997 by Gannett) - or "embed" it back directly under the Pentagon. (say, under the "Office of Special Propaganda") Or they will interview indignant gung-ho spouses saying the papers have "betrayed" their loved ones - that they're "not supporting the troops."
To the contrary, I am rather impressed that the editorial begins with a half century old quote from correspondent Marguerite Higgins:
“So long as our government requires the backing of an aroused and informed public opinion ... it is necessary to tell the hard bruising truth.” (Scott Harrop, “Mutiny at the Military Times?” 4 Nov. 2006, Just World News.com, downloaded from http://justworldnews.org/archives/002208.html, 6 Sept. 2007.)
Interview with Donald Rumsfeld on Generals' Criticism of His Performance
KWAME HOLMAN: Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, the principal architect of the Iraq war strategy, has found himself this week in an unusual spot: the object of fire from several of his former generals.
Their fire has been directed at Rumsfeld's handling of the war, and it has been accompanied by calls for his resignation. Among the retired generals going public: Major General John Batiste, who commanded an Army division in Iraq before he retired and said in an interview yesterday that he thought the Defense Department needed "a fresh start."
Army Major General Paul Eaton, who oversaw the training of Iraqi army troops in 2003 and 2004 before retiring, has been critical of Rumsfeld, as has Retired Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni, the former commander of CENTCOM, the Central Command.
GEN. ANTHONY ZINNI, Former Commander, U.S. Central Command: I believe the civilian leadership in the Pentagon ignored the advice. This advice was not just coming from me, these warnings, but other former commanders at U.S. Central Command.
KWAME HOLMAN: Also getting wide attention was the criticism by Retired Marine Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold. He was director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff for two years until shortly before the Iraq invasion.
In an opinion article in Time magazine this week, Newbold criticized Rumsfeld and other top officials for snuffing out dissenting voices, saying, quote, "The consequence of the military's quiescence was that a fundamentally flawed plan was executed for an invented war."
And it was Newbold's critique that brought a public Pentagon response. On Tuesday, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Peter Pace said no officers were muzzled in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion.
GEN. PETER PACE, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman: We had then and have now every opportunity to speak our minds; and if we do not, shame on us, because the opportunity is there. It is elicited from us. And we're expected to.
And the plan that was executed was developed by military officers, presented by military officers, questioned by civilians -- as they should -- revamped by military officers, and blessed by the senior military leadership. I wanted to tell you how I believe this system works, and I wanted to tell you how I have observed it working for five years, because the articles that are out there about folks not speaking up are just flat wrong.
KWAME HOLMAN: Secretary Rumsfeld had this to say.
DONALD RUMSFELD, U.S. Secretary of Defense: There's nothing wrong with people having opinions, and I think one ought to expect that. When you're involved in something that's controversial, as certainly this war is, one ought to expect that. It's historic. It's always been the case, and I see nothing really very new or surprising about it.
KWAME HOLMAN: Military criticism of a civilian secretary of defense is not new, but in the past it usually has been voiced privately or off-the-record, even during the Vietnam War, not in public suggestions and coupled with calls for a secretary to resign or be fired.
Despite the criticism of the past few days, President Bush has stood by his defense secretary. And today, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the president's confidence remained strong.
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, White House Press Secretary: The president believes Secretary Rumsfeld is doing a very fine job during a challenging period in our nation's history. The secretary has led the Department of Defense during two wars, wars that resulted in the liberation of 25 million people in Afghanistan and 25 million people in Iraq.
KWAME HOLMAN: McClellan, too, noted that debate and disagreement are to be expected when a nation is at war.
Why come out now?
J IM LEHRER: And late today, two more retired Army generals called for Rumsfeld's resignation. They are Charles Swannack, the former commander of the 82nd Airborne, and John Riggs, who had publicly tangled with Rumsfeld while he worked at the Pentagon.
And now to Retired Major General John Batiste. He's a West Point graduate who retired last year after 31 years in the Army. He commanded the Army's First Infantry Division, both in Iraq and in Kosovo. Before that, he was the senior military assistant to then-Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. He's now president of Klein Steel Services.
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE, U.S. Army, Retired: It's good to be here. Thank you. JIM LEHRER: General, what's going on? What's caused all of you to come out the way you have right now?
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE: Well, I can speak for myself, Jim. I'm a private citizen and an old soldier, and I'm very disturbed with the past five years in the Department of Defense.
As I said yesterday morning on CNN, I think the military deserves leadership that understands teamwork and builds strong teams without resorting to intimidation. I think respect is a two-way street; the respect given from the military to the senior civilians ought to be reciprocated.
I think the current administration repeatedly ignored sound military advice and counsel with respect to the war plans. I think that the principles of war are fundamental, and we violate those at our own peril. And military leaders of all ranks, particularly the senior military, have an obligation in a democracy to say something about it.
JIM LEHRER: Now, General Pace, as we just played, said that you and other military officers had plenty of opportunity to speak out. Did you, in fact, speak out while you were on active duty?
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE: Of course. We all do. Within the military, it's a very special culture, and you stay within your chain of command.
There are times that you're told to do things that you don't agree with and you're given an opportunity to rebut, to give reasons why it shouldn't be that way. And at the end of the day, you either salute and execute or you make a decision to retire or resign; that's the way it is. There's always that dialogue.
JIM LEHRER: And you took the option to salute and go ahead, correct?
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE: Up until a point. In November of 2005, I retired from the Army. I transitioned. By all accounts, I had a very promising career ahead of me, but I was not willing to compromise further the principles of war.
Military vs. civilian leadership
JIM LEHRER: Now, General Tommy Franks, Army general, was the man in charge of the plan and has taken, in fact, full responsibility for the military plan going into Iraq. Are you and your fellow generals saying that that's not the case, that the civilians were actually running the whole thing?
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE: I believe that's the case, Jim. You know, we went to war with a plan to beat the Iraqis. That was the easy part. The tough part was to go to Iraq and build the peace.
As General Powell has said before: If you break it, you own it. And that's exactly the case. We have enormous experience. I personally have experience in Bosnia and Kosovo; I understand, as many of us do, the complexities of the mission.
It is much harder than warfare, and you need to have sufficient troops on the ground to control the people, to secure the borders, to intimidate the insurgency, to own the ground in every respect. My area in Iraq was the size of the state of West Virginia, huge. And we were forced over time to conduct a series of movements to contact where we only controlled the ground for a moment in time; that's not how you fight an insurgency.
JIM LEHRER: Did you ask for more troops?
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE: We always asked for more troops, within our chain of command.
JIM LEHRER: And what happened when you asked for more troops?
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE: We saluted and executed; I had to keep my soldiers alive and focused on the mission at hand.
JIM LEHRER: As you know, Secretary Rumsfeld has said from the beginning every time the military asked for more troops in Iraq, they were given what they wanted. Not true in your case?
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE: I suspect, going way back five years to the beginning of this whole war, there were ample times when people said to him, as General Shinseki did, "We need more." In the case of General Shinseki, he was retired early. And as I recall, the secretary didn't even go to his retirement ceremony; I have never forgotten that.
JIM LEHRER: A lot of people have said none of you, none of you other generals spoke out in support of General Shinseki at the time. He was left out there by himself and, until recently, has been pretty much by himself. Why was that?
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE: General Shinseki has more support than he ever knows.
JIM LEHRER: I'm talking about public support, General, as you know.
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE: At the time, I was active duty and I kept it within my culture.
Calling for a change of leadership
JIM LEHRER: What do you say to those who say it's all fine and well to say this now, talking about you and your other generals that we've just reported on. Why not earlier? Why when it could have made a real difference? We're already there; things are happening. Well, you know the criticism you and others are drawing right now.
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE: Sure. As I explained, we all lived in a culture. From June of 2002 until August of 2005, I was focused on Kosovo, I was focused on Turkey, and I was focused on Iraq. I wasn't concerned with the politics.
There comes a point in time where you speak out. In my case, it was after I chose to leave the Army.
JIM LEHRER: Did you...
MAJ. GEN. JOHN BATISTE: I do think that our military is incredibly resilient, unbelievably resilient. No organization, from the Department of Defense on down, depends on one person. That leader can be replaced tomorrow and the organization will continue. What I'm saying is that we have some issues of accountability here that need to be addressed.
JIM LEHRER: Do you have any basic problem with the civilian leadership of the military?