Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 17, 2009
By: Hilzoy

"The Righteous Nation"

Steve already mentioned GQ's article about Donald Rumsfeld. You should really read the whole thing. I just thought I'd highlight this bit, about the Biblically-themed cover sheets that Rumsfeld attached to the President's daily intelligence briefings on Iraq:

"In the days before the Iraq war, Shaffer's staff had created humorous covers in an attempt to alleviate the stress of preparing for battle. Then, as the body counting began, Shaffer, a Christian, deemed the biblical passages more suitable. Several others in the Pentagon disagreed. At least one Muslim analyst in the building had been greatly offended; others privately worried that if these covers were leaked during a war conducted in an Islamic nation, the fallout -- as one Pentagon staffer would later say -- "would be as bad as Abu Ghraib." (...)

The Scripture-adorned cover sheets illustrate one specific complaint I heard again and again: that Rumsfeld's tactics -- such as playing a religious angle with the president -- often ran counter to sound decision-making and could, occasionally, compromise the administration's best interests. In the case of the sheets, publicly flaunting his own religious views was not at all the SecDef's style -- "Rumsfeld was old-fashioned that way," Shaffer acknowledged when I contacted him about the briefings -- but it was decidedly Bush's style, and Rumsfeld likely saw the Scriptures as a way of making a personal connection with a president who frequently quoted the Bible. No matter that, if leaked, the images would reinforce impressions that the administration was embarking on a religious war and could escalate tensions with the Muslim world. The sheets were not Rumsfeld's direct invention -- and he could thus distance himself from them, should that prove necessary."

Gosh: who could possibly think that something like this could make people think that we were on a crusade against Islam?

righteous nation

The full slideshow is here. I also very much liked the one that said: "Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed" (from Proverbs). In view of Rumsfeld's actual record on this point, it would have been more accurate to say: "Plans? We Don't Need No Stinking Plans!"

Hilzoy 2:12 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (50)

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Comments

and I guess a few years down the road we will have FOG OF WAR PART II starring Donald Rumsfeld. Even looks a little like that prick McNamara.

Posted by: john r on May 17, 2009 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget about "Therefore put on the full armor of God" accompanying a fetching pic of a tank in the desert at sunset.

That "evil or stupid" meter is pointing more and more toward "stupid" all the time, with the possible exception of Cheney.

Posted by: Joe Bourgeois on May 17, 2009 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Were these reports served with a mild hallucinagen to make sure the President would agree?

Posted by: jen f on May 17, 2009 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

The real obvious point here (as is becoming apparent now regarding Cheney also) is that you have a guy who's an experienced, longtime bureaucratic operator who knows exactly how to, and is completely unembarrassed about, manipulating his dimwitted boss.

This whole dynamic is the essence of the conservative movement -- get some halfwit front man who looks kinda nice to the electorate, and do whatever you want behind him, without the burden of actually getting elected (with your crackpot ideas and lack of trustworthiness) yourself.

Posted by: jimmy on May 17, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

OMFG.

Posted by: jcricket on May 17, 2009 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

This story and the pictures are getting a lot of attention on liberal blogs today. Let's see if the traditional media picks up on it.

The MSM complains about losing readers. Well, they missed the two biggest stories in the last eight years - the lies about Iraq and the financial meltdown. Then they ignored the Pentagon pundit story.

This Memogate story was published by the alternative media. I wonder if the author first tried to "sell" it to the MSM, but they weren't buying. Was GQ the only publication which would touch this story? Just wondering.

Posted by: sheridan on May 17, 2009 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Not to Rumsfeld: Follow Dick's lead. These are serious charges. You need to address them. Go on every show you can get booked on and explain each and every aspect of this story. And use the term "culture of life" as often as you can.

Posted by: Danp on May 17, 2009 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Dag nabbit. That's "Note to Rumsfeld".

Posted by: Danp on May 17, 2009 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Well, it seems that Rumsfeld was of the opinion that W wasn't that bright a light and, if done right, could be manipulated quite easily.

From what we know, Rumsfeld appears to have been correct in this judgement, and the recipe seems to have worked pretty well until Bush urgently needed a scapegoat after the '06 election disaster when it turned out that Roves secret voter math was just hot air bravado talk.

Posted by: SRW1 on May 17, 2009 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

Sheridan,

Don't forget the purging of the US Attorneys General. MSM barely mentioned that. It was Talking Points Memo that kept digging up info. Only when it got to a critical mass did MSM start pretending to cover it.

Posted by: jen f on May 17, 2009 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

I blame the Founders. They really should have thought things through when they were setting up this nation and added some sort of separation of church and state. They sure did drop the ball on that one. Thanks a lot, guys!

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on May 17, 2009 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Wait, so the classification info at the top of pages is classified / redacted to boot?

Can I WFT it?

Posted by: MobiusKlein on May 17, 2009 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

mhr - You might want to hold that complaint for a post that Steve Benen writes.

Posted by: Danp on May 17, 2009 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Just a reminder that this sort of thing was pretty comprehensive and extended into the purely worldly arena.

For instance, detention centers for Iraqis named after dead first-responders to the Sept. 11 events: Camp Bucca, Camp Ganci (itself located at Abu Ghraib).

This nomenclature seems like a fairly cynical attempt to confuse participants in the adventure into imagining they were on a vengeance mission. No wonder the atmosphere was so ripe for abuse.

Posted by: Doug Bostrom on May 17, 2009 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

These pages just make me think: WWJB?

Who Would Jesus Bomb?

What makes it even creepier is that Rummy was no Christianist himself- he just knew a good way to manipulate his boss. And yet this Christianist BS is deeply woven into our military. Creepy, indeed.

Posted by: biggerbox on May 17, 2009 at 4:02 PM | PERMALINK

I'm going to tell my own "we don't need not steenking badges" story:
In 1994, I received a commission for SAS Institute, the software firm in Cary NC, for a fiber hanging for what was then their Education building (SAS had a corporate campus with great perks, a superb cafeteria). Me and my helper arrived early on the day I was to deliver and hang the piece, an approx. 27x19 'tapestry', and got there around 8AM. The cleaning lady let us into the locked building, and we were looking at the 3 or 4 story wall it was to go on when a tall red haired guy (with a perfect pornstasch) in gym clothes sort of jogged up and said "you don't have on your badges!", and I said (having always wanted to say it) "Badges! We don't need no steeking badges!".
The guy was the Head of Security, and he put us in a class room until the head of Facilities 'bailed' us out in about 20 minutes.
Here's a link to the piece. http://www.flickr.com/photos/20940335@N03/3488380347/
In three sections, SAS took it apart and hung the center panel on the opposite wall the next year, and I suppose it's still there.

Posted by: MR Bill on May 17, 2009 at 4:03 PM | PERMALINK

Doug: "This nomenclature seems like a fairly cynical attempt to confuse participants in the adventure into imagining they were on a vengeance mission. No wonder the atmosphere was so ripe for abuse."

Mission from God, you mean. It was a Mission from God. Bush even believed he was channeling God.

Posted by: bob5540 on May 17, 2009 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Here's what mystifies me. Rumsfeld didn't suddenly lose all his marbles and become a ninny on January 20, 2001. He'd progressed smartly upward through various organizations for decades -- presumably with the same wretched judgment and attitude all along.

How? Why did he ever have any cred?

Posted by: lotus on May 17, 2009 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Because abusiveness is what conservatives are all about.

It's what they've only been about, ever.

Posted by: alan on May 17, 2009 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

WWJSAB == Who Would Jesus Shake And Bake?

Posted by: melior on May 17, 2009 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Shoot or torture them all and let God (our lordy-guordy grape on high, everlasting) figure our warplan out.

Don "Snuggles" Rumsfool

Posted by: The Galloping Trollop on May 17, 2009 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen has a serious anti-Mexican obsession.

1. Not Steve Benen
2. Post is not about Mexicans
3. The line is "I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges" and the fact that Hilzoy attributes it to Rumsfeld pretty much annihilates your claim that has anything to do with race, since Rumsfeld is not Mexican. Instead, it pretty clearly shows that Hilzoy is pointing to the fact that Rumsfeld is impersonating a law officer enforcing the law, but relying on force the moment that justification is questioned. Just as in the movie.

Posted by: MarkC on May 17, 2009 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Attack where they beat the loudest...

Rummy's no dummy:
The path to Dub's heart was his...
Religious tummy

Posted by: koreyel on May 17, 2009 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Is there no bottom to the rottenness of the Bush administration? I can see no way to restore America's reputation in the world that doesn't involve hanging some of these motherfuckers.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on May 17, 2009 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Those people just weren't/aren't all that bright. Which makes it all the more astonishing that so many even still accord them an undeserved respect.

Posted by: JL on May 17, 2009 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. THe hatred of the Bible and Christianity here is palpable.

Is there some better caption that should have accompanied these pictures that you people can recommend? Probably some far left, anti-nationalistic condemnation of our troops?

Posted by: svetlana on May 17, 2009 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

I have just one question: GQ??? Really? Nobody else wanted this scoop?

Posted by: GP on May 17, 2009 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Wow. THe hatred of the Bible and Christianity here is palpable.

I didn't notice any hatred of Christianity here, but I did detect a surge in stupidity when you posted that.

Posted by: synykyl on May 17, 2009 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK
Wait, so the classification info at the top of pages is classified / redacted to boot?

Yep. It's the nature of Special Compartmented Information that often the codeword for a compartment is itself classified.

Posted by: idlemind on May 17, 2009 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

Is there some better caption that should have accompanied these pictures that you people can recommend? Probably some far left, anti-nationalistic condemnation of our troops?

Um, don't you think that in a secular democracy with a pluralistic religious tradition that military progress reports should focus on facts and data, and not try and slant the effort as some kind of Christian holy war?

Well of course you don't, because as synykyl pointed out, you lack intelligence. I'm sure you'd have been happier with captions that read "WE'RE KILLING THE MUSLIM INFIDEL!!!" despite the fact that Iraq was the most secular nation in the middle east, had a tradition of religious toleration, and had neither attacked nor threatened us.

Posted by: trex on May 17, 2009 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

We love the bible! If you need to manipulate a mental defective, there's nothing like bibles. As John said in his first epistle to the Crustaceans, "Lo, Jesis sez Iraq killed your Daddy."

Posted by: howling void on May 17, 2009 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

"Perceive the difference between religion and the cant of religion; piety and the pretense of piety; a humble reverence for the great truths of Scripture and an audacious and offensive obtrusion of its letter and not its spirit in the commonest dissensions and meanest affairs of life. . . It is never out of season to protest against that coarse familiarity with sacred things which is busy on the lip and idle in the heart, or the confounding of Christianity with any class of persons who. . . have just enough religion to make them hate, and not enough to make them love, one another." - Charles Dickees, Preface to The First Cheap Edition, The Pickwick Papers, 1847

Posted by: MR Bill on May 17, 2009 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

crud, the above quote was from Charles DICKENS, of course...
And protesting the abuse of scripture, as where Mr. Rumsfeld is attempting to use the words of the Bible to give cover to his sorry enterprise is quite in the spirit of Jesus, if not Christianity.

Posted by: MR Bill on May 17, 2009 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

"Lo, Jesis says, war ain't worth fightin without war crimes!" Why you think they call 'em the Beatittudes? Ya gotta beat em till they legs is like squishy mush! Ya gotta slice up their Johsons, make em curl all around when they angry, foevamoah.

Posted by: howling void on May 17, 2009 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, beat em up, when they hepless in chains wit dem hoods and can't hurt you none. Drown em till they go blub blub blub. Jesis love dem rough tough hombres who beat up the hepless captives.

Posted by: howling void on May 17, 2009 at 6:18 PM | PERMALINK

"...Rumsfeld likely saw the Scriptures as a way of making a personal connection with a president who frequently quoted the Bible."

When did George W. Bush ever quote the Bible? He was biblically illiterate, and probably unaware of most teachings by Jesus.

Posted by: happyfungirl on May 17, 2009 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

I have had time only to view the slide show. What struck me immediately is how - once again - the Bush administration did all it could to make us over in the image of Al Qaida. Acts of war supported by your God? Check. Use of shock (and awe) and brutality to acheive your goals? Check. Intolerant of competing ideas / ideologies / religions? Check. Self righteousness taken to hubris and beyond? Check.
These "cover sheets" make Bush look like a complete marionette. And, I cannot make up my mind who exhibited more cynicism in making him dance - Rumsfeld or Cheney. What an embarrassment.

Posted by: TuiMel on May 17, 2009 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Hilzoy, not to be fussy, but Isaiah isn't part of the New Testament, so it connecting it to the Crusades seems odd.

Maybe a Jewish Crusade? A "milkhome"?

Yes, Rumsfeld should be horsewhipped.

Posted by: Charles on May 17, 2009 at 8:14 PM | PERMALINK

Arg. Link above should point to www.yiddishdictionaryonline.com/

Posted by: Charles on May 17, 2009 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

not for nothing, but for more than a few of the religious whack-pack within and outside the bush regime, religious war on Islam was/is the intent, not the least of whom to a not insignificant degree was bush - his self-righteous self.
.

Posted by: pluege on May 17, 2009 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

I always knew W was being manipulated by the Neo-Cons, but I never thought it was THIS bad.

Oh My God.

Who would Jesus bomb?

Posted by: Cal Gal on May 18, 2009 at 12:52 AM | PERMALINK

"Don't forget the purging of the US Attorneys General. MSM barely mentioned that. It was Talking Points Memo that kept digging up info. Only when it got to a critical mass did MSM start pretending to cover it."

Yeah, and the only time they cover the current investigation is when Karl Rove is interviewed. ROVE is the media magnet, not the scandal.

The MSM just loves to cover those wacky Republicans. The thoughtful intelligent Democrats just don't yell and shout enough and their theories are just boring, the don't call people traitors and interesting stuff like that. We can show those bits over and over and over again.

Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich call Nancy Pelosi a liar and a threat to national security.

Stop the PRESSES!

Posted by: Cal Gal on May 18, 2009 at 12:58 AM | PERMALINK

"Because abusiveness is what conservatives are all about.

It's what they've only been about, ever."

That and the money.

Posted by: Cal Gal on May 18, 2009 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

He'd progressed smartly upward through various organizations for decades -- presumably with the same wretched judgment and attitude all along.

How? Why did he ever have any cred?

Rumsfeld has the classic corporate executive mind.
It's not about your capabilities or intelligence; it's all about how aggressive, manipulative and ruthless you are at playing political games that would make non-sociopaths retch.
The Bush Assministration was filled with these corporate assholes who are all ambition and no talent.

Posted by: Mike G on May 18, 2009 at 3:05 AM | PERMALINK

I'm so sorry that all you Americans here appear to be so uneducated about scripture. These verses were used out of their context. The Bible is NOT hate literature as its implied. I can't believe you all are into bashing Jesus and the Word.

Posted by: justardr on May 18, 2009 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

@justardr:

If I assume that you consider both the OT (what we Jews call the Scriptures or the Tanakh) and NT both legitimate parts of your Bible, I suggest you read carefully the Book of Exodus's references to Amalek, and the entire Book of Joshua. And Deuteronomy on wise-ass children. Not to mention numerous passages in Kings (e.g. the fate of Baal's priests after the contest with Elijah or the latter's response to the children who tease him)...then there are the salivating descriptions of Hell in Revelation --- hard to feel the love in such passages --- along with a few verses in Leviticus about lying with men as with women seems to be the only books that many self-proclaiming Xtians seem to know. (BTW, according to the Gospels Jesus uttered not one word about homosexuality or abortion). Hard

The Bible has some of everything --- elevated moral wisdom, tales of stupidity, lust, and greed (hey, King David was an adulterer, mercenary, highwayman, and murderer as well as poet, ruler and conqueror), talking snakes and asses (of the 4-legged kind and many more with 2), meaningless suffering (Job) and even a joke or two (Sarah a mother at 99? she laughs at God!). What else could you expect from a collection of folktales, writings, aphorisms, mythical (and some real) history compiled and edited over a thousand years, then translated, mistranslated (a classic is Isaiah's supposed "virgin" conceiving, which most likely was really just "young woman") and re-translated over the next 2000?

Even if you think those words were dictated by the Lord Himself, they were still written down by mortal men, and who can be so sure they got it right? And there are numerous words in the original Ancient Hebrew of which no one really knows the original meaning. So good luck with really understanding what is being said.

Posted by: J Rosen on May 18, 2009 at 12:07 PM | PERMALINK

Jesus and The Word is great! I waggle it around, do whatever I wants to do, kill people and stick bananas up they asses and Jesis he still love me! Now I gotta go pull the arms outa the sockets of some hepless prisners, Jesis he says to, he tole me so when I kneeled and prayed to hee-im.

Posted by: howling void on May 18, 2009 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

So we have a group of people who realize that our enemies (the slimeball Muslims) are waging a religious war against Christianity and Judeaism and want to emphasize our basic values and the leftists find that the Americans are the ones to be vilified? We are doomed by our own wishy-washiness.

Posted by: fred on May 18, 2009 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

fred you ignorant slut. Your "basic values" are from 1095.

Posted by: Daddy Love on May 18, 2009 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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