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DOD Disputes Weekly Standard Column

Oct. 18, 2006

The Weekly Standard.

To the Editor:

Bill Kristol’s recent article “No More Huffing and Puffing” manipulates Secretary of Defense Donald’s Rumsfeld’s comments at a recent press conference and misleads your readers.

Mr. Kristol’s article quotes at length from a recent press conference by Secretary Rumsfeld. The Secretary opened his remarks by noting the sixth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the USS Cole. The Secretary then moved into a discussion of the threat posed by North Korea.

Mr. Kristol interrupts Secretary Rumsfeld’s remarks by interjecting a question, asking, “But on the sixth anniversary of the attack on the USS Cole, what are we doing about these threats and trends?” He then proceeds to use the rest of the Secretary’s remarks—in which he discusses the need for cooperation of the international community on stopping North Korea—to answer a question the Secretary was never asked.

Mr. Kristol conducts this misleading parsing of Secretary Rumsfeld’s statement so that he can make his point that, in his words, “the lesson Rumsfeld takes from the USS Cole and all that has happened since, is this: We’re dependent on the ‘international community’ and we need to cooperate with others.” (emphasis added.)

Though it may strike some as odd that Mr. Kristol takes issue with the notion of the “need to cooperate with others,” Secretary Rumsfeld said nothing of the sort. His discussion of the international community pertained specifically to the President’s policy on North Korea, not our reaction to the Cole bombing or other terrorist attacks. If anything, in fact, the Secretary’s comments on the international community could be read as exactly the opposite of what Mr. Kristol implies. Indeed, a few days earlier, the Secretary noted at another press event the following: “The international community’s going to have to do a lot better or else face a world that will be quite different, with multiple nuclear nations and . . . the added risk of these very lethal weapons falling into the hands of non-state entities.”

A full transcript of the Secretary’s comments in both press conferences—absent Mr. Kristol’s commentary—is available at http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/.


Dorrance Smith

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs

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