The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, May 10, 2004  

Wolfowitz and Feith Also Under Fire

The Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday joined the growing chorus of newspapers calling for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.

In “After Abu Ghraib,” May 9, the editors wrote:

Donald Rumsfeld should resign as U.S. secretary of defense.

If he lacks the decency and courage to do so, President Bush should fire him.

A river of shame washes over America because of the deaths, torture and humiliation of prisoners held by the American military in Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly at the Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad.

Prosecuting a few grunts who used torture tactics (and were depraved enough to grin while doing it) will not expiate this shame.

An outraged world will see such “handling” of the problem for what it is: an attempt to contain a scandal by blaming it on a few low-level scapegoats.

That is unacceptable.

The damage these crimes have wrought on America’s standing in the world, particularly the Muslim world, is incalculable. It will linger. No one gesture can erase it.

America has no choice but to begin showing by deeds that it grasps just how despicable and damaging these prison abuses were. It must hold accountable the powerful men whose policies, decisions and omissions led to these outrages and let them fester.

Foremost, that means Donald Rumsfeld, who has run the Defense Department with a freewheeling, confident hand for three years.

Accountability also means the departure of Rumsfeld’s top lieutenants, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, the architects of the dubious invasion rationales and the disastrously incompetent occupation. All must go.

Meanwhile, President George W. Bush issued a strong endorsement of Rumsfeld: “You are courageously leading our nation in the war against terror. You’re doing a superb job. You are a strong secretary of defense and our nation owes you a debt of gratitude.”

Talking about downplaying the controversy: The New York Times reports President Bush traveled to the Pentagon to meet with Secretary Rumsfeld rather than calling his subordinate in to the Oval Office.

More evidence of the Age of Unseriousness.

[Post-publication addendum: Sen. John Edwards late yesterday called for Rumsfeld’s resignation.]

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