Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld quietly left Washington yesterday, flying
first to Kuwait, and then on to Baghdad. Rumsfeld was accompanied by only a
few reporters, Pentagon lawyers, and Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff. After arriving in Baghdad, Rumsfeld immediately met
with the commander in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez.
Both Sanchez and Rumsfeld have been under fire as pressure is building toward
legal actions in the case of Abu Ghraib prison. Some Congressional Democrats
have called for Rumsfeld to resign.
with the reporters during the secret 15-hour
journey to Baghdad. Addressing accusations that the Pentagon is trying to keep
information about Abu Ghraib covered up, he called the accusations, "garbage."
Pundits in Washington have speculated that Rumsfeld’s visit to Iraq was a
stunt to pump up his falling stock with Congress and segments of American
public. However, overlooked in all of the hoopla over Rumsfeld’s trip, is the
probability that something less obvious was behind the trip’s stated goal of
holding a morale boosting "town meeting" with American troops.
After meeting in Baghdad with Lt.
General Sanchez, Rumsfeld took a helicopter
to Abu Ghraib prison, where he arrived during a sandstorm.
Outside the walls of Abu Ghraib, in the flat desert, an Israeli-made armored
bus circled the prison camp where most of the thousands of prisoners live.
Inside the bus, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld peered out of the smoked
out windows, as hundreds of Iraqi detainees rushed at the razor wire. As the
bus went past, churning up clouds of dust, US attack helicopters circled
Only a short distance from the razor wire, tearful family
members waited patiently for any news of their loved-ones who might be incarcerated
Secretary Rumsfeld’s trip to Abu Ghraib, may not have been a media stunt,
but it surely was not an in-depth fact finding visit either, for he did not
visit the notorious "1A"cell block where American personnel tortured
Rumsfeld met with the commander at Abu Ghraib, Major General Geoffrey Miller,
himself implicated in the scandal. Rumsfeld spoke to an assembly of the prison
As Rumsfeld spoke to the guards in the prison mess hall, standing behind him
both figuratively and literally
was Major General Miller. Rumsfeld spoke about the mission in Iraq and the responsibility
of the guards.
After speaking at the prison, Rumsfeld flew to a hastily organized Camp Victory
"town meeting." Camp Victory, just north of Baghdad International
airport is a sprawling military version of a miniature American city. Complete
with shopping centers, Burger Kings and third world fast food workers, it
is home to thousands of American GIs.
At the town meeting, Rumsfeld spoke at length and answered 9
questions from the troops, interrupting each solder’s question with a gag
All told, Rumsfeld spent seven
hours in the Iraq. According to the transcript made available by the Department
of Defense, his brief "town meeting" could not have taken an hour.
Is it reasonable to believe that Rumsfeld flew 15 hours to spend a few hours
doing media events at Abu Ghraib and Camp Victory?
There is no way to know what Rumsfeld and Sanchez discussed, but considering
that both have their jobs on the line right now, it would be a stretch of the
imagination to conclude that they did not take time to strategize their personal
The presence of Pentagon lawyers only adds to this probability.