Wordly advice to Rumsfeld, from Gingrich, Wolfowitz & Co.

By Al Kamen
Friday, March 4, 2011; 12:41 AM

The Rumsfeld Papers are an absolute treasure trove for scholars and citizens looking for insights into both the inner workings of the George W. Bush administration's foreign policy apparatus and the mind of the former SecDef, Donald Rumsfeld, and his pen pals.

Best of all, the "search" function at the Rumsfeld Papers site ( www.rumsfeld.com ) works very nicely. For example, if you type in "Gingrich," up pops a note from Rumsfeld to top aide Larry Di Rita asking Di Rita to "Please see me" about a six-page memo that Newt Gingrich wrote in June 2003, three months after the Iraq invasion, titled "Seven Strategic Necessities."

Gingrich, the newly suspended Fox News contributor and, if the water's right, presidential candidate, wrote that "Palestine may present us with the challenge of trying to win a total war against an enemy hiding among civilians." Hamas leaders talk about driving the Jews out of Israel, he wrote, calling that a "declaration of total war."

"America has a sound doctrine for total war against an entire nation," he wrote. "Dresden, Hamburg, Tokyo and Nagasaki are among the memories of how decisive Americans can be when faced with a threat of total war."

"However America does not have a doctrine for total war against an enemy who is hiding behind a civilian population," Gingrich continued. "Furthermore that civilian population is likely to be terrorized by the forces of total war and so simply appealing to their better interests is useless." Rumsfeld put a small check mark next to that paragraph.

No, Gingrich was not really advocating nuking Gaza. He's talking about a plan for helping Palestinians "who favor real democracy" and oppose the terrorists.

Gingrich also wanted the Pentagon not to continue to "yield the territory" on foreign policy to the National Security Council and the State Department and "other interests" but to "maximize DoD's influence."

So "the seventh strategic necessity is to establish a system of DoD detailees throughout the federal government ," he wrote, by "sending good people to every point in the federal government."

Well, they're always looking for help at the antitrust division.

Is it gripping? Yes.

Be very careful when you go to the Rumsfeld Papers. The stuff can be addictive. Try to limit yourself to maybe no more than 30 minutes a day. Do not ignore the really important things in life.

We were about to spend some time with friends and family, maybe even do some work, when we came across a Rumsfeld "snowflake," or little action memo, three months after 9/11, that Rumsfeld sent his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz.

"Subject: Potential Outcomes," Rumsfeld wrote on Dec. 3, 2001. "Please get back to me within 48 hours with a list of things that could go wrong, a separate list of things that could go right, and what we ought to do about each," Rumsfeld wrote.

"The perfect is the enemy of the good," he reminded. "Please respond."

Two days later, some two months after the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, Wolfowitz wrote back to "Don," sending him a "first cut of the two lists of surprises we should be anticipating. Actually, I've added a third 'neutral' list. I'm sure many more will come to mind as we think about it."

Some of the "Good Things" are "Capture UBL" (Osama bin Laden) and "Afghanistan results quickly come close to complete 'victory.' "

Other Good Things: "Saddam dies," "People take to the streets in Iran" to support President Mohammad Khatami against the ruling religious leadership, "Collapse of North Korea" and, rounding out the list, "Civil War in Cuba."

"Bad Things" would include Afghanistan turning "bad next spring," various terrorist attacks, a "North Korea missile launch" (got that right) and a "Russian move into Georgia." Wow - he saw that one almost seven years before it happened.

The "Neutral Things" are most curious. One is "Iraqi move against the Kurds." ("Neutral" - unless you're a Kurd.)

The other is "We find conclusive evidence of a state sponsor of 9/11."

Guess that's "neutral" because it's not really necessary? Besides, didn't we always know it was Saddam Hussein?

Appears Wolfowitz didn't respond to Rumsfeld's request for a plan for "what we ought to do about each." For a look at the memo, type "neutral things" in the search box and see result No. 7.

Fox in the henhouse?

Much eyebrow-raising amongst the enviros on rumors that former Republican senator Bob Bennett of Utah, who lost a renomination bid last year for another term, is being hired by the Wilderness Society.

Bennett's League of Conservation Voters scorecard has him at a dismal 6 percent lifetime rating, a number of enviros noted, which puts him in some very bad company as far as they're concerned. That means he's in the range of folks like GOP Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison (Tex.) and Mike Enzi (Wyo.) at 5 percent, Jim Inhofe (Okla.) at 4 percent, and David Vitter (La.) and John Cornyn (Tex.) at 3 percent.

Wilderness Society head Bill Meadows says no deal has been signed with Bennett, who's got his own consulting firm these days. But "we're in a pretty serious conversation," Meadows added, noting that he and Bennett "really developed a good working relationship, a warm relationship" collaborating on wilderness-protection efforts in Utah. Bennett can open a lot of doors there and in other places, Meadows said.

"Of all the things I did in the Senate," Bennett said Thursday, getting that wilderness-protection bill passed "was among the most satisfying." He said he understands he's not a favorite of the enviros, but he may get some support from those "who really want to solve the problem" in terms of protecting wilderness, rather than being "absolutely pure."

GAO moves

Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro on Tuesday announced a personnel and office reorganization at the Government Accountability Office as a result of the GAO's controversial report on deceptive marketing practices at for-profit colleges.

One of several colleges highlighted in the report was Kaplan College, part of Kaplan Higher Education, which is owned by The Washington Post Co.

The changes will "ensure greater attention to the issues that led to the need to produce the errata to the for-profit schools report and by the subsequent inspection," which "identified areas to improve quality control," the announcement said.

Gregory D. Kutz, who had submitted the report as managing director for forensics, audits and special investigations, was named director of audit services, reporting to Rick Hillman, who was named managing director of a restructured and renamed operation called the Forensic Audits and Investigative Service (FAIS) team.

Staff researcher Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.

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