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Rummy’s Body Count

The New York Times has an annoying habit of declaring, on its front page, that this or that government memo is hugely significant, and then failing to post said memo on its Web site. They did it March 31  (TimesSelect subscribers only) with the CIA’s summary of Sheikh Mohammed’s comments for the Moussaoui trial (see “Al-Qaida’s Gomer Pyle“), and they did it again April 16  with the Pentagon’s memo saying that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld does too meet with members of the uniformed military. I suppose I should be grateful to the Times for helping to create a niche for my new column. But jeez, fellas, it’s no fun when you make it this easy.

The Pentagon memo, which Pentagon officials prefer to call a “fact sheet,” was a somewhat lame reponse to calls from three retired generalsMaj. Gen. John Batiste *, Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, and Army Maj. General Paul Eaton that Rumsfeld step down. The criticisms are essentially the same ones that have been made practically since the day Rumsfeld arrived: He’s bullheaded, he’s vindictive, he equates dissent with disloyalty, he refuses to acknowledge mistakes. What’s different is that former military officials who worked under Rumsfeld are now sufficiently pissed off by the mounting disorder in Iraq that they’re willing to put these criticisms on the record.

Note the self-defeating nature of the heading. See Nixon, Richard, "I am not a crook."
Not one syllable that follows justifies use of this adjective.
Note the strangely diffident tone. Pointless insider detail: in Pentagon-speak, the Senior Level Review Group is "slurg."

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* Correction, April 19, 2006: An earlier version of this column identified Batiste as “Gen.” John Batiste. The proper way to describe a general of his rank is “Maj. Gen.” Click here to return to the corrected sentence.