By Al Kamen
Friday, November 17, 2006
Seemed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had barely left his Oval Office firing ceremony when the Pentagon Web site popped up with a new feature titled "Six Years of Accomplishments" with Rummy.
First and foremost were his accomplishments in the "war on terror," where overall, military efforts "liberated 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq." More specifically, they've "liberated 31 million Afghans from Taliban control and destroyed Al-Qaeda sanctuary." And they've "liberated 27 million Iraqis from a brutal dictatorship and turned over sovereignty of the country to an Iraqi government."
Math, apparently, is not a strong point. Somewhere it seems they lost -- or gained -- 8 million people.Following Rumsfeld Out
Meanwhile, Rumsfeld's firing is sure to spark the departure of many of his top aides. One assistant secretary, Peter Rodman, has already moved back to the Brookings Institution -- but that was long planned, we're told.
Several others are on the endangered species list. Stephen Cambone, the undersecretary for intelligence, is surely gone. His deputy, Lt. Gen. Gerald Boykin-- famed for his memorable remark that "my God was bigger than his" and other sage observations -- won't be far behind.
Others on the various DOD departure lists include acquisitions chief Kenneth Krieg; comptroller Tina Jonas; assistant secretary Thomas W. O'Connell, who runs Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict; and top Rumsfeld aide Robert Rangel, though Rangel is highly regarded in the building and among some House folks.
Reporters will be watching to see if spokesman Dorrance Smith, who just beefed up his public affairs staff with a "rapid response" team to correct media lies, mischaracterizations and inaccuracies, hangs on.
When the media rebuffed press office demands for corrections or declined to publish editorials, Smith had them printed in the Pentagon's "Early Bird" compilation of important news. Not just printed, but put right at the very top.
The "war on media" produced as many as six letters or "corrections" demands in a single day on Oct. 30, five of them signed by Smith.
But in recent days, there haven't been any, which would indicate either that the media have become accurate -- a near impossibility -- or just that we've lightened up on the nearly departed.
As for Smith, oddsmakers are thinking he'll probably go after Robert Gates comes in. But we're told the White House is supportive of his efforts, and we recall that Smith worked closely with Gates on the latter's successful CIA confirmation hearings. Also, Smith is on the Bush Library board at Texas A&M, where Gates is university president; they see each other and enjoy "a more-than-cordial relationship."Financial Advice for War Zone
What Iraq really needs, World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz opined on Tuesday, is advice on rebuilding its institutions -- not just money from the international community.
"I am not saying they don't need money," Wolfowitz told the European Parliament's development committee, "but they have a lot of money on their own and it's not managed right."
"What they need is help in constructing better institutions, public financial management and advice on how to better manage the petroleum sector," he said, according to Reuters. "Help, I believe, in how to manage social safety nets."
Of course, money management isn't easy in the middle of a war that has killed or made refugees of a huge chunk of the managerial class.
Wolfowitz said he didn't know if U.S. Mideast policy will change with the Democratic takeover of Congress. "I know that they are not going to come and ask me for my opinion," he said. That's a safe bet.
"I am not sufficiently well informed on political and security issues to give sensible advice," he added. Wolfowitz was much better informed when he predicted Iraqi oil revenue would pay for the war.