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Friday, April 14, 2006

Rummie on the Ropes

(Keywords: politics, Iraq, President Bush, borrowing from Torquemada )

I saw the pieces yesterday about Retired Maj. Gen. John Batiste calling for Rumsfeld's head. I didn't think Rummie would be going anywhere. Rumsfeld's been in trouble like this before - he tendered his resignation over Abu Graib and had it refused. I figured he was golden with the administration.

I saw that Tennessee rep. Harold ford called for Rumsfeld to be replaced with Colin Powell this morning and I thought that that would never happen (I still don't - Powell's been too talkative lately). But then I saw something from Salon and my certainty that Rumsfeld's still golden has been set back. Ghosts of Abu Graib have come back to haunt him. Here is an excerpt (courtesy of Raw Story):

"Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was personally involved in the late 2002 interrogation of a high-value al-Qaida detainee known in intelligence circles as "the 20th hijacker." He also communicated weekly with the man in charge of the interrogation, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the controversial commander of the Guantánamo Bay detention center.

"During the same period, detainee Mohammed al-Kahtani suffered from what Army investigators have called "degrading and abusive" treatment by soldiers who were following the interrogation plan Rumsfeld had approved. Kahtani was forced to stand naked in front of a female interrogator, was accused of being a homosexual, and was forced to wear women's underwear and to perform "dog tricks" on a leash. He received 18-to-20-hour interrogations during 48 of 54 days.

"Little more than two years later, during an investigation into the mistreatment of prisoners at Guantánamo, Rumsfeld expressed puzzlement at the notion that his policies had caused the abuse. "He was going, 'My God, you know, did I authorize putting a bra and underwear on this guy's head?'" recalled Lt. Gen. Randall M. Schmidt, an investigator who interviewed Rumsfeld twice in early 2005."

If this story breaks big - and it hasn't, so far - I can tell you what the administration's defense will be. Khatani was a terrorist and one Pentagon insider, Jeffrey Gordon, called Khatani a 'treasure trove' of information.

But the bigger picture is that it brings the abuses at Abu Graib back to the forefront and puts Rummie square at the heart of it. It may be that the story comes back to us from overseas, where the news may be taken a little less than casually.

I think Rumsfeld should go. But I've thought that for a while. In the end, it may be the opinion of people in the muslim world that finally drives him out.

That would be a fitting end.