Does finding out that a top military intelligence official was sending Donald Rumsfeld briefings emblazoned with religious crusader talk about the invasion of Iraq, like “open the gates so that the righteous may enter” fit “the leftâ€™s narrative that the Iraq war must have been conceived with an ulterior motive â€” war for oil, war for Israel, war because Bush heard Godâ€™s voice in his head”?
Robert Draper of GQ has a searing profile of ex-Sec Def Rumsfeld and how he botched the 2003 war of choice against Iraq. It includes a description of Gen. Glen Shaffer’s daily briefings to Rumsfeld:
on the morning of Thursday, April 10, 2003, Donald Rumsfeldâ€™s Pentagon prepared a top-secret briefing for George W. Bush. This document, known as the Worldwide Intelligence Update, was a daily digest of critical military intelligence so classified that it circulated among only a handful of Pentagon leaders and the president; Rumsfeld himself often delivered it, by hand, to the White House. The briefingâ€™s cover sheet generally featured triumphant, color images from the previous daysâ€™ war efforts: On this particular morning, it showed the statue of Saddam Hussein being pulled down in Firdos Square, a grateful Iraqi child kissing an American soldier, and jubilant crowds thronging the streets of newly liberated Baghdad. And above these images, and just below the headline secretary of defense, was a quote that may have raised some eyebrows. It came from the Bible, from the book of Psalms: â€œBehold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Himâ€¦To deliver their soul from death.â€
This mixing of Crusades-like messaging with war imagery, which until now has not been revealed, had become routine. On March 31, a U.S. tank roared through the desert beneath a quote from Ephesians: â€œTherefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.â€ On April 7, Saddam Hussein struck a dictatorial pose, under this passage from the First Epistle of Peter: â€œIt is Godâ€™s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.â€(snip)
These cover sheets were the brainchild of Major General Glen Shaffer, a director for intelligence serving both the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense. In the days before the Iraq war, Shafferâ€™s staff had created humorous covers in an attempt to alleviate the stress of preparing for battle. Then, as the body counting began, Shaffer, a Christian, deemed the biblical passages more suitable. Several others in the Pentagon disagreed. At least one Muslim analyst in the building had been greatly offended; others privately worried that if these covers were leaked during a war conducted in an Islamic nation, the falloutâ€”as one Pentagon staffer would later sayâ€”â€œwould be as bad as Abu Ghraib.â€
But the Pentagonâ€™s top officials were apparently unconcerned about the effect such a disclosure might have on the conduct of the war or on Bushâ€™s public standing. When colleagues complained to Shaffer that including a religious message with an intelligence briefing seemed inappropriate, Shaffer politely informed them that the practice would continue, because â€œmy seniorsâ€â€”JCS chairman Richard Myers, Rumsfeld, and the commander in chief himselfâ€”appreciated the cover pagesâ€¦
No matter how you parse it — this is creepy. On one level it calls into question judgment. Why spend millions of dollars on cultural and religious sensitivity training and anthropologists to game out the war, if you are going to spit in everyone’s eye anyway? But even darker, it calls into question, again, the motivation behind the invasion and subsequent occupation ofÂ Mesopotamia.
And yes, Hot Air, it does call into question the very sanity of the operation. Bloggers there would prefer we pretend it was all about indulging the chief :Â “Proof that Don Rumsfeld was actually a closet crusader?” quips Allapundit. ” No, more like proof that Rumsfeld tried to speak Bushâ€™s language in the early days of the war to give him strength as the first casualties were taken.”
We all have our crosses to bear.
UPDATE: Former aide to Rumsfeld said his boss disputes he “appreciated” religiously tinged briefing papers