Rummy reality check, part 2

Published December 9, 2004 10:00PM (EST)

Today the Drudge Report is trumpeting a "purported" email memo from an embedded reporter claiming that he in fact "coached" the soldier who gave Defense Secretary Rumsfeld an earful on Wednesday regarding the lack of armor for U.S. troops operating in Iraq.

At this point we'll try to reserve judgment as to the alleged email's authenticity (maybe the righty watchdogs who broke "CBS-gate" are jumping all over it?), but for starters, the tenor of it comes off just a wee bit funky: "I just had one of my best days as a journalist today. As luck would have it, our journey North was delayed just long enough see I could attend a visit today here by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. I was told yesterday that only soldiers could ask questions so I brought two of them along with me as my escorts."

Uh huh... As luck would have it, we happen to think that whoever's idea it was to grill Rummy on why the troops are still under-equipped nearly two years into the war isn't really the issue here. It's Rumsfeld's response. For anyone focused on Drudge's little red herring, Slate's Fred Kaplan offers some coaching on the issue:

"Rumsfeld's answer was, first, unforgivably glib, reminiscent of his shrugged line about the looting in the days after Saddam's fall ('Stuff happens'), but more shocking because here he was addressing American soldiers who are still fighting and dying, 20 months after Baghdad's fall, as a result of Rumsfeld's decisions.

"More than that, his answer was wrong. If you're attacked by surprise, you go to war with the army you have. But if you've planned the war a year in advance and you initiate the attack, you have the opportunity -- and obligation -- to equip your soldiers with what they'll need. Yes, some soldiers will get killed no matter the precautions, but the idea is to heighten their odds -- or at least not diminish them -- as they're thrust into battle."

By Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

MORE FROM Mark Follman

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

War Room