September 22, 2006
Column Included Wrong Portrayal Of Rumsfeld
Two assertions in Robert Seltzer's recent column ("Living in confusing times," Sept. 19) are inaccurate.
First, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld did not merely say "my goodness," responding to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton during Senate hearings in August, nor did he treat her "as if the senator were some junior leaguer."
He offered a point-by-point response to Senator Clinton's concerns, reflecting on such issues as the level of violence in Iraq, U.S. troop levels in Iraq, how the Iraqi Army largely disbanded itself, and the steps taken by the government planning for post-war Iraq.
Second, the secretary did not liken critics of the Iraq war to "weak-kneed politicians who tried to appease the Nazis" in his remarks to the American Legion National Convention.
In fact, the secretary never mentioned any critics of the Iraq war in his remarks. This mistaken interpretation of the secretary's remarks was corrected by The New York Times and the AP.
Instead, the secretary's remarks were an effort to remind people of the similarities between past and current periods in U.S. history, so that a mentality of dismissing real and gathering threats while focusing nearly exclusively on American imperfections does not undermine our nation's ability to prevail in what will be a long and difficult struggle against violent extremists.
We invite your readers to read the full text of the secretary's remarks at www.defenselink.mil/speeches.
Bryan Whitman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Washington, D.C.