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Tilting at Windmills

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March 24, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

PACE vs. RUMSFELD, PART 4....General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the military shouldn't be in the business of secretly paying off journalists to write favorable stories:

"I think there are ways to get your message out, but get it out in a form that people understand how the message got there."

Speaking aboard an aircraft flying from Saudi Arabia, Pace added: "They need to know that, so they can make their own judgment about what they believe and don't believe in the article. The worst thing you can have is people feeling like somehow they've been snookered."

....At a Pentagon news conference later in the day, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said he expected the department to review its policy, but he declined to state his view of the practice.

It's a little late, but Pace's consistent willingness to disagree publicly with Rumsfeld on questions of military ethics is refreshing and far more effective than anything his critics could do to show up Rumsfeld for the shallow opportunist he is. Now if we could only get Pace to do the same on military tactics.

Kevin Drum 12:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (28)

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Comments

Anyone want to start a pool on whether Pace resigns before Rumsfeld does?

Posted by: Gregory on March 24, 2006 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, and I love this:

The worst thing you can have is people feeling like somehow they've been snookered

Given the obvious buyer's remorse the electorate is feeling about Bush, I'd say Pace's statement is spot on.

How about a pool on how long it takes some conservative pundit or blogger to call Pace a "liberal"?

Posted by: Gregory on March 24, 2006 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

"Pace's consistent willingness to disagree publicly with Rumsfeld" I'm sure this will end with Pace holding the short end of the stick.

Posted by: nutty little nut nut on March 24, 2006 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory:
Pace has been playing this game for about two years now. Nobody's raised a fuss. Beyond Kevin, nobody even seems to be tracking the trend. I thibk an ousterwatch is a little premature.

Posted by: dunno on March 24, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the military shouldn't be in the business of secretly paying off journalists

And what's wrong with paying journalists? You get paid for writing your liberal views on this blog. Why shouldn't the military pay journalists for reporting the truth especially when the mainstream media can only report bad news from Iraq and none of the good news? How hypocritical of you.

Posted by: Al on March 24, 2006 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

Yup - it amounts to nothing. Rummy obviously can do no wrong in the eyes of this Admin.

Personally, I think Rum's wasting a great opportunity. If any of us were similarly untouchable, wouldn't we milk it for all it's worth? The guy could live out his wildest dreams right now (Cheney too).

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on March 24, 2006 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

That is, "I think." ('Cause Lord knows I can think, I just can't tttyppe).

Posted by: dunno on March 24, 2006 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

I think comparing Kevin, whom we all know is writing this blog and for whom he works, to planted stories in the forign press by anonymous sources in hopes of the MSM picking it up as a "real" story is absurd.

Posted by: nutty little nut nut on March 24, 2006 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

For what it's worth (and I suspect the answer is: very little), I had the chance to attend a lecture given by Pace at my graduate school. In a short time he managed to convince a very large room of his almost scary level of integrity and intensity. Under questioning, he basically boiled his outlook down to: "The decisions I make determine whether people die, and I've lost enough loved ones in war to take that responsibility seriously. My ultimate duty is to this country, which means its laws, Constitution and people, not its governing party. And if I were ever put in a position where my official duties required me to act in a way out of step with my personal values, I would try to change the situation or, failing that, resign."

The real world is surely unkind to some of Pace's ideals, but my first-hand impression was that he is exactly the type of guy you want running your military.

Again, for what it's worth. For all I know, Rumsfeld probably comes across very nicely at cocktail parties as well.

Posted by: Adam S. on March 24, 2006 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK


KEVIN DRUM: Pace's consistent willingness to disagree publicly with Rumsfeld on questions of military ethics is refreshing

What's your definition of "consistent?" Pace has disagreed with Rumsfeld a grand total of once. And on that occasion he basically retracted his disagreement the next day. As for this current matter, since Pace made his remarks ahead of Rumsfeld being questioned about them, and since Rumsfeld didn't respond to questions concerning the matter, it's hardly a disagreement, hardly refreshing.


Posted by: jayarbee on March 24, 2006 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

THIS SPACE FOR RENT.

Want to get your message out? Just contact me, Stefan, and I will post your message here under my name!

Only $5 per word, easy payment terms.

Posted by: Stefan on March 24, 2006 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

So Pace is for torture, body armor shortages, and current troop levels now?

Posted by: nutty little nut nut on March 24, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Way too late. All this kind of thing needed to be said publically three years ago. No one wants to politicize the military (shudder), but when the creator of the Powell doctrine himself has become a butt boy for the most corrupt administration in modern times, then someone else in authority needed to step up.

Posted by: JeffII on March 24, 2006 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin - why didn't you entitle this post "MORE EVIDENCE OF THE REPUBLICAN CRACKUP" ??

Posted by: FrequencyKenneth on March 24, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

Al,

This was not just a matter of paying journalists to write something. This was a fundamentally deceptive program, because the articles were written by the U.S. military but often passed off in the Iraqi press as the work of independent journalists. Even if you want to claim that the content of the stories was accurate, the authorship of the stories, as presented, was a flat out lie.

See e.g. here.

Posted by: Foo Bar on March 24, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

For all I know, Rumsfeld probably comes across very nicely at cocktail parties as well.

My guess is he doesn't.

But I was interested in your post.

Posted by: shortstop on March 24, 2006 at 12:51 PM | PERMALINK

FrequencyKenneth wrote: "Kevin - why didn't you entitle this post 'MORE EVIDENCE OF THE REPUBLICAN CRACKUP' ??"

Well, probably because it wouldn't be accurate and because it would be really, really stupid, both of which we've come to expect from you.

Posted by: PaulB on March 24, 2006 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

It is worth remembering that this program of writing our own good news and secretly feeding it to publications in the Mid East is just part of a series of programs which, when first made public after 9/11 were supposedly shot down by Congress. They also included the Poindexter "data mining" concept.

But just as with the Administration's reaction to a Congressional rejection of proposed changes in wiretapping laws, the Pentagon simply, completely and flatly ignored the Congressional order, stuck the whole program in one of their many "black budget" sectors not usually subject to congressional review (not that Congress has much interest in investigating anything anyway) and carried on with what they wanted to do in the first place.

The tragedy is that the American public seems obvlivious to the total breakdown of Congress' normal role as a prober and investigatgor and the fact that the Executive Branch and the Defense Department are essentially running a rump government in which whatever they decide to do is fine because THEY want to do it, regardless of whether it is illegal, unconstitutional...or both.

WAKE UP. Your government and your democracy is steadily being destroyed!!!!! ....and with it your freedoims.

Posted by: dweb on March 24, 2006 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, what is the skinny on IED components from Iran? Richard Clarke seems to think he knows Iran is lending a hand, last week Pace said he knew nothing.
Anybody?

Posted by: Cassandro on March 24, 2006 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Forget the military, Kevin. Any person who accepts money from a source to write these kind of stories doesn't deserve to be called a journalist.

Posted by: stand on March 24, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

What about planting stories in the US news too? Next time OBL or Zarqawi "releases" a statement declaring their hatred for our freedoms, or their opposition to democracy, ask yourself if that isn't just a bit too convenient.

Likewise, I'd caution suspicion of any story that comes out of a war theater, which can't be independently confirmed - the press usually relies on official sources, or Iraqi politicians (some of whom, like Allawi are/were explicit CIA employees).

Posted by: luci on March 24, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Kevin, Kevin,

When are you and your cohorts going to admit that the Iraq debacle is fukt? We have a choice of what bad outcome to accept. Pace could disagree with Rumsfeld on tactics and it wouldn't matter.

Pace deserves credit for disagreeing with Rumsfeld on the stuff where differentiating the military from the psychopath pols in charge makes sense and the stuff where it doesn't matter much.

Posted by: Carl Nyberg on March 24, 2006 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

I was watching Rumsfeld the other day and he acted as if the war were over. This stands in direct contrast to anything from Grant after Vicksburg, or Eisenhower after D-Day. (And that's generously saying anything in Iraq is the historical equivalent of those battles.)

Anyone who's watched two boys fight in a schoolyard knows it's over only when the loser gives up.

PS Is it too soon to start calling him "Rumstud"? Can we throw it back in their faces?

Posted by: Sandy Tinfins on March 25, 2006 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK

If wonkery is going to be possible , the problem hit by Lance Gay (13 Mar 06 - Scripps Howard News Service - article "Reclassify Documents...") shows how PYA is going to make censure and science hobbled in the future, regardless of Congress.

Posted by: opit on March 25, 2006 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

I wish someone would point out that Bush and his sick, degenerate friends wanted to invade Iraq before 9-11. Every false argument about Bill Clinton thinking there were WMDs there or this revisionist history nonsense about spreading democracy in the Middle East, falls away like diseased timber, when you realize that Jim Baker and the other neocons has the invasion of Iraq cooked up long before September 11th. It was all about the oil from Day One.

Impeach and imprison George W. Bush and Richard Cheney for war crimes..

Posted by: Stephen Kriz on March 25, 2006 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: 45454 on March 25, 2006 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

The term philosophy comes from the ancient Greek word (philo-sophia). It means the love of wisdom (philosophy, history, divisions, solutions, methods, currents, orientations, sciences, religion, teaching, aristotle, plato, socrates).

Posted by: philo on March 27, 2006 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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