Sunday, December 12, 2004

Chuck Hagel speaks out against Rumsfeld

Senator Chuck Hagel appeared on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer early this afternoon. He did not have positive things to say about Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld answers his own questions. I don't get that idea. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware was also on the show. Directly from the transcript:
BLITZER: What about you, Senator Biden? There has been a lot of speculation about a lot of names, including one Democratic senator, Joe Lieberman, a friend from Connecticut. What do you think?
BIDEN: Joe would be great. But I would like to find a Republican from a blue state. Maybe we could pick up a seat (LAUGHTER). I shouldn't be so facetious. But all kidding aside, Joe would be great. I agree with Senator Hagel. And I think this is an important point to emphasize: Up until now, we have thought of the homeland security as sort of the local cop. The truth of the matter is, the guy who is heading -- or woman who heads Homeland Security Department has to have a clear understanding of American foreign policy, has to be able to sit at the Cabinet table and be able to have his or her view heard along with the secretary of state and the secretary of defense. We have put an incredibly large number of people under that office. We have given it a wide, wide area of responsibility. And it has been a stepchild up to now. So, I hope whomever it is has a broader portfolio than just merely being a first-rate law enforcement officer, as Bernie Kerik was.
I am reposting this part of the transcript in full. Sen. Chuck Hagel expresses a vote of no confidence in Secy. Rumsfeld.
HAGEL: Well, I have always believed that if you want to know what's going on in the Army, go to the guys who really fight and the guys who lead and are the backbone of the Army, and they're the noncommissioned officers. And that's exactly what I did do. Joe is correct.
But beyond that, a couple observations.
One, Secretary Rumsfeld's response to this young soldier -- that soldier and those men and women there deserved a far better answer from their secretary of defense than a flippant comment. That might work in a news room where you can be cute with the television audience but not when you're putting these men and women in harm's way, who will be wounded, some, some will be killed.
And I wonder what the parents thought. I wonder what the parents thought, the parents who have men and women over there, sons and daughter who are fighting. I don't think they appreciated that answer.
Enough about that. What we've got here...
BLITZER: Well, let me interrupt you, Senator Hagel.
BLITZER: Let me interrupt you, Senator Hagel, because it sounds to me like you're expressing a vote of no confidence in the defense secretary.
HAGEL: Well, the secretary of defense reports to the president of the United States. I've had my differences with this secretary of defense, and I have been very clear on it.
I don't like the way he has done some things. I think they have been irresponsible. I don't like the way we went into Iraq. We didn't go into Iraq with enough troops. He's dismissed his general officers. He's dismissed all outside influence. He's dismissed outside counsel and advice. And he's dismissed a lot of inside counsel and advice from men and women who have been in military uniforms for 25 and 30 years.
One of the reasons we've got this problem, Wolf, in my opinion, is that we were unprepared for what we were going to face, what we are facing, in a post-Saddam Iraq. And this is just one more manifestation of the problem.
Listen, when I talk to these young troops that come back from Nebraska, National Guard Reserves, active duty, and I sit down with them alone in a room and no one there, no cameras, I ask them -- I was hearing some of these same things over the last year: not the right kind of weaponry, personal body armor they didn't have. They didn't have armor for their vehicles.
But yet too many of our leaders in this administration were going around the country telling and reassuring Americans our troops had everything they wanted. Certainly the Congress was passing a lot of money to make sure they had everything they wanted.
So there are a lot of pieces in this.
I do think there is some good news. I do think the military is working to resolve these issues. I do think we are putting more armor on those vehicles and we are getting the personal armor to these troops and the weapons.
But it goes beyond that, Wolf.
BIDEN: Hey, Wolf, can I make one...
BLITZER: I want to take a quick break, Senators. Hold on one second.
BLITZER: But very briefly to you, Senator Hagel, were you disappointed that the president asked Rumsfeld to stay on?
HAGEL: The president's decision is his decision. He will live with that decision. He'll have to defend that decision. And that's all I want to say about it.
In other news, I keep getting flame mail saying that I have gone GOP-Lite or Bush-Lite. That is simply not the case. I am what I am. A loyal Democrat who hopes the party wakes up and realizes that Howard Dean is not the answer. Here's why (from a comment in
DNC Committee person friend of mine:
"I hate the Deaniacs!!! I checked the number that I had listed with the DNC, and the voicemail was full with 30 messages from people I didn't know telling me to vote for Dean."
DNC people are pissed that they'll have to clean out their voicemails, email, and snailmail boxes of junk mail advocating for Dean. While from an advocate perspective, it may seem innocuous, multiply it by a 1000 and you can see why people are pissed.

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