Thursday, May 6, 2004

Rummy In The Doghouse

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON, May 5 — President Bush on Wednesday chastised his defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, for Mr. Rumsfeld’s handling of a scandal over the American abuse of Iraqis held at a notorious prison in Baghdad, White House officials said.

The disclosures by the White House officials, under authorization from Mr. Bush, were an extraordinary display of finger-pointing in an administration led by a man who puts a high premium on order and loyalty. The officials said the president had expressed his displeasure to Mr. Rumsfeld in an Oval Office meeting because of Mr. Rumsfeld’s failure to tell Mr. Bush about photographs of the abuse, which have enraged the Arab world.

In his interviews on Wednesday with Arab television networks, Mr. Bush said that he learned the graphic details of the abuse case only when they were broadcast last Wednesday on the CBS program “60 Minutes II.” It was then, one White House official said, that Mr. Bush also saw the photographs documenting the abuse. “When you see the pictures,” the official said, “it takes on a proportion of gravity that would require a much more extreme response than the way it was being handled.”

Another White House official said, “The president was not satisfied or happy about the way he was informed about the pictures, and he did talk to Secretary Rumsfeld about it.”

The disclosure of the dressing-down of the combative Mr. Rumsfeld was the first time that Mr. Bush has allowed his displeasure with a senior member of his administration to be made public. It also exposed the fault lines in Mr. Bush’s inner circle that have deepened with the violence and political chaos in American-occupied Iraq.

See what happens when you let the president actually watch TV? I guess it was Rumsfeld’s turn to hide the remote control from Bush, and he blew it.