Remember that Tammy Wynette song from more than 20 years ago, "Stand by Your Man?" Well, it looks like if there were to be a remake, in the capitol, of the movie "Brokeback Mountain," George Bush would be singing the tune to Donald Rumsfeld.
An article in Britain's "Guardian" yesterday says that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was "personally involved" in the interrogation of Saudi detainee, Mohamed al-Qahtani, at Guantanamo Bay. al-Qahtani's "degrading and abusive" treatment at the hands of American soldiers, while not specifically ordered by Mr. Rumsfeld, received his blessing. Ostensibly, Rumsfeld was apprised of the implementation of "creative" strategies such as forcing this alleged 20th hijacker into women's clothing, making him stand naked in front of a female interrogator, and perform "dog tricks" on a leash, as well as other Abu Ghraib-style aberrations which no rational person could deny were tantamount to anything less than torture.
The president has been talking about how he's "seen first-hand how Don relies upon our military commanders in the field and at the Pentagon to make decisions about how best to complete these missions (in Iraq)." While Rummy often looks more like a wet pigeon than a military mastermind, never underestimate the power of "the little bastard," as Richard Nixon was fond of calling him.
Beneath his calm, cool, wrinkle-free exterior, Don Bomb has at least one trick up his sleeve and, in the best sense of the word, serves at the pleasure of the president. Moreover, quite possibly, it gives this president pleasure to play football with the family values, and core ideals upon which this great country was founded. I, for one, can't recall when, in our nation's history, we've seen leaders this proficient at passing the buck, and dodging the bullet, even when the smoking gun is aimed right at them. For this, I'm afraid, we citizens must take responsibility. We've learned from American History 101, and the words of another president, Thomas Jefferson, what our rights are, as well as our moral imperatives, and still we vote by remote, and remain pregnant with apathy.
That Mr. Bush, the commander-in-chief of our military, would issue a written statement, this holiday weekend, from Camp David, in which he endorses what he calls "energetic and steady leadership" by Mr. Rumsfeld is almost as alarming as those prisoner abuse scandals which have come to light since he took office.
What's more, if an al-Qaida detainee who is as high profile as Mohamed al -Qahtani is being subjected to such abuse, one can only wonder about the treatment received, at the hands of their American captors, by less notorious, and more anonymous inmates in prisons throughout Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, as well as Guantanamo Bay. That Mr. Rumsfeld, aka "Don Bomb," is reported to have regularly monitored interrogations which were nothing less than human rights abuses under the shield of wartime legitimacy while using hard earned taxpayer money to do so is an effront to every service man and woman, and to all who believe that the "new normal" really began with the Magna Carta.
Make no mistake, should the defense secretary, and only the defense secretary, step down for mismanaging the war, as well as sanctioning cruel and unusual punishment as an interrogation technique, history will rightly regard him as only the fall guy. It is not the secretary of defense who must be held accountable for ineptitude and torture, but those from whom he takes command.